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Tim Buckley

Straight/Warner WS 1881
Released: 1970

The lyric content is the same, but Buckley has put a slightly more improvisational background behind it to emphasize a spiritual existence in the universe. "Jungle Fire" conveys the small existence of a human being, "Star Sailor," follows along the same lines with Buckley's version of the sounds from outer space. This LP represents a distinctive change from the usual Buckley fare.

- Billboard, 1970.

Bonus Reviews!

In which a man who was renowned for his Odetta impressions on Jac Holzman's folkie label switches to Frank Zappa's art-rock label, presumably so he can do Nico impressions. C-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Let us remember the unfortunate ones like Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, singer/songwriters of considerable talent and little commercial success, who died young. Buckley passed away on June 29th, 1975, from the effects of drugs. He was only 28.

Starsailor never charted. The artist himself once said, "It's very tricky sometimes for a singer/songwriter because you just cannot be objective about what you're doing. Sometimes it's not commercial and you overdo it for the general public's ear." Even those music buffs who have heard Buckley's best-known song may not recognize it as his: "Morning Glory" was rendered by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys under the title "Hobo."

Starsailor did hit home, though, with Steve Lake, who praises it's "intensity, imagination, integrity, and musicianship." Buckley told Zigzag that he recorded portions of the album the same month in 1969 as he laid down his first two Straight albums, Blue Afternoon and Lorca.

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In 1987, Starsailor was chosen by a panel of rock critics and music broadcasters as the #49 rock album of all time.

- Paul Gambaccini, The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books, 1987.

After his beginnings as a gentle, melodic baroque-folk-rocker, Buckley gradually evolved into a downright experimental singer-songwriter who explored both jazz and avant-garde territory. Starsailor is the culmination of his experimentation, and alienated far more listeners than it exhilarated upon its release in 1970. Buckley had already begun to delve into jazz fusion on late-'60s records like Happy Sad, and explored some fairly "out" acrobatic, quasi-operatic vocals on his final Elektra LP, Lorca. With former Mother of Invention Bunk Gardner augmenting Buckley's group on sax and alto flute, Tim applies vocal gymnastics to a set of material that's as avant-garde in its songwriting as its execution. At his most anguished (which is often on this album), he sounds as if his liver is being torn out -- slowly. Almost as if to prove he can still deliver a mellow buzz, he throws in a couple of pleasant jazz-pop cuts, including the odd, jaunty French tune "Moulin Rouge." Surrealistic lyrics, heavy on landscape imagery like rivers, skies, suns, and jungle fires, top off a record that isn't for everybody, or even for every Buckley fan, but endures as one of the most uncompromising statements ever made by a singer-songwriter. * * * *

- Richie Unterberger, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Adventurous listeners should proceed directly to Starsailor, Buckley's most uncompromising work -- by a long shot. Consciously experimental, its raw passion still outweighs its avante-garde pretensions. * * * *

- Doug Pippin, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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