Review: Jeff Buckley – Mystery White Boy
Nearly 20 years have elapsed since the initial release of this amalgam of live recordings compiled by Jeff Buckley’s mother Mary Guibert from performances in Germany, Australia, France and the US as Buckley toured debut album Grace. It captures his outrageous vocal talent and uninhibited guitar playing, although lacks the natural flow of a complete live set and the quality of the recordings is inconsistent. While the performances are extravagantly thrilling, on occasion, things stray a little too far into the realms of excess. What Will You Say meanders past the seven-minute mark and the sludgy thrash through Eternal Life doesn’t improve on the album version. The highlights make this a worthwhile purchase, though. On a ragged six-minute Mojo Pin, Buckley lets rip with an anguished scream that shifts to become vulnerable and delicate as Matt Johnson hammers away urgently behind the kit, and the shimmering subtlety of the guitar playing on Lilac Wine and Last Goodbye is seriously affecting. The sheer drama of Buckley’s delivery on Grace is the highlight, before a 20-minute series of covers – Arlen and Gershwin’s The Man That Got Away, Big Star’s Kanga Roo and the medley of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and The Smiths’ I Know It’s Over – closes the record. Fans will find this document of an extraordinary talent and fatally troubled soul an enticing purchase for the glorious finale alone.
Written by Gary Walker. Released on Columbia.