Album Reviews

Tim Buckley

Wings: the Complete Singles 1966-1974

Artist:     Tim Buckley

Album:     Wings: the Complete Singles

Label:     Omnivore

Release Date:     11/18/2016


Born on Valentine’s Day, 1947, Tim Buckley went on, in many ways, to become Cupid’s troubadour. By 6/29/1975, the singer was dead from a lethal overdose of alcohol and heroin. In between, he left us nine unique studio albums and a legacy that thrives to this day. Even die-hard Buckley fans may not know he also released a plethora of singles throughout his brief career. But Buckley was not just another ‘60s singles artist. His musical concepts gravitated naturally to albums. He disdained the pop star persona, and showed an almost indifference to his own popularity. He would not compromise his artistic vision. Yet, Elektra kept trotting out singles, never succeeding in charting anything close to hit.

So why this collection? Why would a Buckley fan want it? Well, for one, it is the first and only compilation of his singles, in chronological order, and includes his early 1966 single, “Once Upon a Time” backed with “Lady Give Me Your Key,” never before released. The singles reflect the distinct phases his art went through: folk/rock, psychedelia, jazz, funk, soul. In the end, he was making recordings that seemed to have rock radio in mind. But, by his sixth album Buckley was lost. The free form jazz album was a logical extension of his experimentation, and he wanted it to be his masterpiece. It was far from that. Irritating and almost impossible to sit through, it was a commercial– and artistic– bomb. He switched gears on his last three albums, serving up a dish of funk/soul clearly aimed at an audience.

Death intervened before he could finish a screenplay and novel he was writing and finally find his musical niche. Possessed of one of the greatest rock voices of all time, his first three albums stand as timeless masterpieces. I, personally, consider his second album, Goodbye and Hello, the best album of the 1960s. A great and unique talent died with Tim Buckley. He left behind a valuable legacy of recordings and a son. A son who also died tragically young. You may have heard of him, his name was Jeff Buckley.

-Robert Myers

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