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Jeff Buckley | Grace Legacy Edition | review | rock | Lollipop
Grace: Legacy Edition (Columbia)
by Tim Den
In the 10 years since its release, Grace has gone from critics'/underground darling to global phenomenon. With millions of copies sold worldwide and the likes of Thom Yorke/every-emo-band-ever citing it as a timeless statement, it's safe to say that Grace has taken on biblical proportions for many. After all, who can argue with Jeff Buckley's angelic/not-of-this-earth delivery on classics such as "Last Goodbye," "So Real," and "Mojo Pin"? Indeed, Buckley hit any note he wished, emotionally or melodically, and gave us vulnerability, unrepentant glamour, unending sorrow, and pitch-perfect execution with every exhaled breath. He's an icon for a reason.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his only studio record's release, Columbia has issued Grace: Legacy Edition, a remastered version of the album replete with tons of unreleased material. Some are absolutely freeze-you-in-your-tracks astounding ("Forget Her"), some show his knack for improving any song he covered ("Mama, You Been on My Mind"), and some... well, depending on how you feel about "outtakes," some could've been replaced with more worthwhile entries. For example, the Screamin' Jay Hawkins cover "Alligator Wine." Sure, Buckley's "photographic ears" allowed him to imitate the bluesman's howls and noises perfectly, but there's just something uncomfortable about the way he gurgled and wheezed over repetitive riffs. Ditto with the "road version" of "Eternal Life": The sped-up, almost metalified approach is beefy and gutsy, but it just doesn't sound right without the original's lock-and-cock groove.
And then there's "Kang-Roo," one of the band's live favorites rumored to have reached past 20 minutes in length at times. The studio version here's 14 minutes long, but didn't the world get the point when it showed up on Mystery White Boy: Live 95-96? The version here is better recorded, but so what? Same goes for the aforementioned "Eternal Life (Road Version)": The fans already got the treatment on Mystery White Boy, do they need it again?
But I guess that's just personal taste. And hey, I've got the fwd button if I want to use it. Thankfully, there are enough good extras to make the bonus disc worthwhile. Buckley's collaboration with Shudder To Think is a beautiful '50s pop ditty, and his covers of "Lost Highway" and "The Other Woman" can make a grown man cry. Which, in the end, reminds us why we're still so eager to eat up every posthumous release thrown our way: No matter how much time has passed since his untimely death, the sound of his unique voice still owns our hearts, even if we've heard it a million times.