To celebrate the late musician’s upcoming collection, we delve into the tracks that deserve another listen
Next month, previously unreleased music from the late music icon Jeff Buckley will be unleashed into the universe, over twenty years after it was recorded. The 10-track collection, titled You and I, includes both covers and original material – all of which was unearthed during research for the 20th anniversary reissue of his influential album Grace. “We quickly realised how remarkable they were,” Adam Block, Sony Legacy’s president explained, speaking about the album. “They offer an incredible, rare glimpse of an artist, alone, in the sacred space that is the studio. There’s an intimacy and an honesty to the performances that’s literally breath-taking.” Of course, we’re ridiculously excited to hear new music from Buckley, who was one of the most original, haunting and poetic artists of the 20th Century. To celebrate the unveiling of these hidden musical gems, here are five of Buckley’s most astonishing creations, all of which deserve a deeper look.
“ALL FLOWERS IN TIME BEND TOWARDS THE SUN (FT. ELIZABETH FRASER)”
Arguably, this rare, unfinished duet with Cocteau Twins’ reclusive singer Elizabeth Fraser isn’t just one of Jeff Buckley’s most underrated songs – it’s one of the most underrated songs full stop. With its simple, rich jangling melody and a distinct, unusual vocal pairing that manages to bury its way into your insides, “All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun” has a meaning and depth that changes slightly with every listen. “My eyes are a baptism, oh I am filth, and sing her to my face, oh phantom elusive thing,” sings Fraser, her voice cracking as Buckley chimes in for the uplifting (and heartbreaking) chorus.
“I KNOW IT’S OVER”
The sound of Jeff Buckley was never that dissimilar to Morrissey, with both of their music darting in poetic, romantic, sometimes depressing and always unexpected directions. So it was only natural that Buckley would cover The Smiths’ classic “I Know It’s Over”, his voice lending a melancholy edge to a song already steeped in sadness. “Jeff was a huge Smiths fan,” his mother, Mary Guilbert, has explained. “He thought Morrissey was a living legend, so this song was a very meaningful choice”. It appears the appreciation is mutual, as Morrissey named Buckley’s Grace as one of his favourite albums of all time.
“I WOKE UP IN A STRANGE PLACE”
Most of us have woken up in a strange place at some point in our lives, whether on the floor of a stranger’s party, or someone else’s bed. Jeff Buckley takes it a step further, and wakes up splashed in blood and vomit. “I woke up in a strange place, my mind a blur and some blood on my chin,” he sings over the off-kilter guitar melody. “I lied to my host I told him I knew how far I could go, then I emptied my guts out on his brand new stereo.”
“LET’S BOMB THE MOONLIGHT”
Some of Jeff Buckley’s most astonishing tracks are the ones steeped in walls of distorted noise, from the chaotic, thrashing climax of “So Real” to the heavy crescendo of “Mojo Pin”. In “Let’s Bomb The Moonlight” (below), Buckley’s voice wails and howls over thick, sludgy guitar riffs and warped, fuzzy melodies, as he sings: “the world is diagnosed with terminal cancer, flesh is not human this culture is not freedom”, his music and words managing to embody the powerful act of losing control.
This 1988 track appeared on Jeff Buckley’s first ever demo tape The Babylon Dungeon Demos, and then again on the “legacy edition” of Grace. With its pummelling drums and thrashing guitar that spirals off into hypnotic shapes, it’s easy to hear Buckley’s darker, harder influences, from Led Zeppelin to Bad Brains. The lyrics take a bleak and sinister turn also, as he sings: “Drinking for hours alone, kill memory, watch it die, pornographic, dead, f**king ripped and bloody, shredded steaming mess.”