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A year after Tim Buckley delivered his 1966 eponymous debut on Elektra Records, the label asked for a followup album, as well as a standalone single. Excited by the challenge of a non-album 45, Buckley holed up with best friend/songwriting partner Larry Beckett to create two perfect sides. The single idea was quickly scrapped in favor of the sophomore album, relegating the intimate demos to near-mythical status. For the very first time, those sessions see the light of day, coupled with an acetate of other demos recorded later in New York City for the upcoming Goodbye and Hello LP.
Roughly recorded with only Buckley and his guitar, Lady, Give Me Your Key offers a glimpse into what the singer-songwriter would sound like if he were playing in your apartment without the added production of strings or rock instrumentation to get in the way. The first half, culled from the single demo, show the LA troubadour at his most passionate and confident, though very rooted in the folk-blues of the time. Of the seven songs, only three would make it to Goodbye and Hello, allowing the others to fade into obscurity. While not all of the material boasts equal strength, it’s still miles ahead of what was happening in popular music at the time. The acetate, on the other hand, sports a different vibe. Here, the songs become more progressive a la Donovan and Roy Harper, while Buckley’s strong, yet tortured voice would become the blueprint for Arthur Lee’s on Love’s 1967 LP Forever Changes. Only three of these compositions would make it to the forthcoming album, leaving the remaining three to stand as priceless treasures that have remained in obscurity for nearly fifty years.
Tim Buckley went on to explore different musical styles, alienate his fans and die of a drug overdose in 1975, leaving everyone to stand and scratch their heads in confusion. This, however, offers a snapshot of the tortured folk singer in his raw, vibrant, vulnerable youth. Hear him again for the first time.
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