While on the road following the release of his debut album, Bloomed, Richard Buckner compiled and sold this cassette-only collection of early performances as a concert souvenir, and while it's hardly "the Great Lost Buckner Album," Unreleased is certainly an intriguing look at what this artist was up to before he gained a hearing outside San Francisco. While most of Unreleased's ten songs would be re-recorded on Buckner's first three albums, this marks the only release to date for four of the tracks, the best being the tape's first two selections, "House of Rotten Timbers" and "Sister," both fine and intimate examinations of people on the emotional brink. (On the other end of the scale, "Tracy Truly" richly deserves its obscurity as the silliest thing Buckner has ever put to tape, if only for the line "Pull that truck around/Let's get the f--k out of this town.") The set also features three performances with Buckner's early band the Doubters, and if the version of "Gauzy Dress" pales compared to its re-recorded version (as "Gauzy Dress in the Sun" on Bloomed), the twangier take of "Jewelbomb" makes for an interesting companion to his later rendition on Since. Hard to find and not likely to receive greater circulation any time soon, Unreleased is nevertheless a compelling look at the formative years of one of the most gifted singer/songwriters to emerge in the 1990s, and fans will find it an entertaining bit of musical archeology.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming