Dave Allen wrote:
I must say that, without wanting to get into too impassioned a spat about music, that I have never been able to understand why the Buckley version is so vaunted. I find the Buckley version very slick, but also rather soulless, and the heavy sigh at the start sets me on edge - it all seems so contrived.
Now I realise ALL music is contrived, and that the quest for authenticity so beloved of music journalism and bands who think that 'integrity' is necessary for good music is essentially fake in itself. I don't rationally reckon that there is anything more wholesome about arranging string quartets than standing alone with your telecaster...
However, I just think there's a bit more piss and vinegar to the John Cale version, it's got dirt under its fingernails and hair under its armpits. It's thick oil paint smeared on a rough canvas, as opposed to some fancy airbrushing in photoshop.
No disrespect intended toward Cale or his version of that classic. It's a great version of the tune. He, and in my opinion like Buckley, captured that antique jazz/blues tradition of performing classics in a unique way.
But I do have a few things to say about the Buckley version. First, to compare his recording to "airbrushing in photoshop" is, well, beyond imagination. In the dual biography Dream Brother
, the author discusses the recording of Grace
and I can assure you that there is nothing 'airbrushy' about the recording.
And I also think we can say that the Buckley version has "dirt under its fingernails"... that's the beauty of the recording, Buckley brings us from sweet and slick to rough and emotional, and then, just as the roughness reaches a climax, he descends into a cry... a lonesome sound if I've ever heard one.
Hearing Jeff's voice for the first time raises some questions: can he possibly sing that well? Truly? I think the live album, Mystery White Boy
, proves without a doubt that, not only can he sing as well as he did on Grace
, but that he can outperform that record at will. Well, that he could, anyway...
Dave Allen wrote:
Good call on the blooze though, though I think the best blooze is far from melancholy.
It's tough to beat the roots, the place where everything else comes from. But for me, the best blues isn't melancholy or aggressive or jovial - the best blues is all of these things. From Kindhearted Woman
to Traveling Riverside Blues