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JEFF BUCKLEY - Grace (Legacy Edition)   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Sunday, 05 September 2004
"One must show respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth" - Voltaire.

Jeff Buckley is not God. Good, yes. Very good, yes. Promising, yes. And if he'd made ten albums he's be as influential and as revered as anyone. And by then he'd probably deserve it. But Grace is his baby pictures : his formative years. He never fulfilled the potential he had : and here it shows.

Grace is a great record : but is not as good as everyone else wants you to believe. It's not the best album ever, or the best album of the decade, of even the year it came out. (I can personally think of at least ten better records that came out that year). Grace however is a ‘must-have', but more for the talent behind it than the music within.

But does the world need this? A 3 CD set, one of the original album, one of songs that weren't good enough to stick out at the time; rehearsals, demos, live tracks, remixes, and a DVD of promos and a 26-minute documentary (a brutally castrated version of the 46 minute version shown on BBC4, at that)?

Frankly, no.

The first disc, the album itself, is as good an album as any you will hear released this year. Whilst at times his band strain to be great when they're merely good, it's some feat that they are as good as they are - considering they formed just three weeks before the album was recorded.

But the second disc? The unreleased songs remained unreleased for a simple reason : they weren't very good. By the time you get past the fabulous "Forget Her", it's all downhill. The nadir is "Alligator Wine" that sees Buckley making grunting noises like a badly overdubbed Karate movie, and collapsing in giggles at the shiteness of the song : you soon realise that this is for the hardcore.

The Legacy Edition devalues the original album, because it shows that for all Buckley's talent, he was often fumbling in the dark, hoping for greatness, and often missing it. The heart of blankness at the core of the second disc is a selection of Blues covers that don't really go anywhere or do anything. Had Buckley not died, these would the stuff of legend : until someone had actually heard it.

If you have Grace, and need more, you can buy this. No doubt there's a soon-to-come archival boxset of his between song banter due on RipOffRecords you can start saving for. If you don't have Grace, you can't go far wrong in picking this up : it's everything you need in one handy package. But if you have Grace and aren't that bothered either way, don't bother. The Legacy Edition is an unnecessary addition to the Buckley canon. You don't need it to complete your collection.

The dead can't stop crass exploitation. The dead can't stop reissues. The dead know only one thing : it is better to be alive, than it is to be dead. If only the Mystery White Boy had some mysteries. If only we hadn't seen and heard his every last utterance. If only we still had some mystery. If only his legacy has been treated with something approaching Grace.


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