Tim Buckley

Copenhagen Tapes

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This 1968 archival recording captures Tim Buckley in his prime, live in Denmark during the 1968 European tour. With a stripped-down version of his band, with Carter C.C. Collins and John Miller absent, he enlisted local bassist Nils Henning and went without drums throat-first into one of the most enchanting live Buckley sets on record. Those in love with Live at the Troubadour will find many similarities in the sound here, and Buckley's vocal performance is, expectedly, outstanding. None of the burning funk of Starsailor or the folk picking of Happy Sad, the renditions are assimilated into the jazzy, brooding forms explored on Blue Afternoon and Lorca. Non-expendable sideman Lee Underwood and his Telecaster were right there on the groove, providing that inimitable harmonic backdrop. It was Underwood's highly distinguished lead guitar sound that guided the group through the cascading warbles of Buckley's voice; the guitarist seemed to be the only instrumentalist who could really predict where the singer's flights might take them. Apparently, the 21-minute opener, "I Don't Need It to Rain," was Buckley's vocal warmup exercise. If that was the case, one could imagine that the sound of him reading a telephone book would be sublime -- this is one of the most beautiful pieces he recorded, live or in the studio for that matter. Following this moody rumination, the group render classics "Buzzin' Fly" and "Strange Feeling," which thus far have kept the mood deeply blue, extending the songs into slow-motion sketches of the album versions. Buckley closed the set with a 12-minute "Gypsy Woman," where the group improvises on its theme with fiery jazz intensity. If you can imagine sitting in Denmark in 1968, you can also imagine walking the icy streets home with your perception changed forever following such an extraordinary performance. For those who couldn't make it -- well, thankfully documents like this exist.

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