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2 June 2010

Tim Buckley - 'Sefronia' (Discreet/Warner Bros)

About halfway through side one of this record I started wondering why this is in my collection. Then I remembered that the two-part title track, buried near the end of side 2, which is an interesting little suite of melodies that hint of past glories (Blue Afternoon in particular). Maybe. And it begins with something redeemable -- the side 1 track 1 is a Fred Neil song called 'Dolphins' that's pretty great in a country-rock/70's smooth kinda way, sounding a bit like Dennis Wilson or that awesome Donnie and Jo Emerson record. But then two songs later, my throat is trying to cut off oxygen to my brain, or maybe that's just the effect I get from staring at Buckley's tropical button-down shirt on the back cover. And when I start to think I'm just exaggerating, I get to 'Peanut Man' and things are even worse. Buckley's last three records (of which this is the second) are called "sex-funk" records by Wikipedia, but I don't see it. It's not fair to funk, or to sex, to be compared to this music. There are many tunes on Happy Sad, Starsailor and Lorca that are funkier and sexier than this. But maybe I've just always screwed weird people. "Pour another glass of cola and pass it to me / I 'm looking through you, yes I can / I should do you, peanut man" is some of the most erotic poetry ever put to music, indeed. I guess my negativity surrounding this comes from the fact that it follows a truly spellbinding run of innovative music, which I've really enjoyed revisiting, listening to some of them multiple times (technically beyond the Underbite requirements, you know). I can find a few positive notes in 'Martha' , which is influenced by Jimmy Webb and/or John Prine (though actually penned by Tom Waits), a sad slice o' life that finds Buckley holding back his own vocal fire. But 'I Know I'd Recognize Your Face' is so completely fucking terrible that it feels a bit like a parody 70's duet that would be in a comedy sketch. The next round of purges will have to seriously consider the argument that this is worth keeping just for 'Sefronia' and 'Dolphins', and right now I'm leaning heavily against it. It's a sad way to end our minor Buckley gauntlet, but I guess it was a sad way for his career/life to end.

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