Would Jeff Buckley be as revered if he were still making music today? My guess is yes, but tragically, no one will ever be able to truly prove me wrong. Instead, we have mostly memories. And Jeff Buckley will surely be remembered as many things - vocal acrobat, otherworldly conduit, and - most of all - tragic romantic hero. "Mystery White Boy" does much to warrant adding 'inspired bandleader' to that list. A truly galvanizing solo artist (as evidenced by 1993's "Live at Sine" EP), Buckley proves here that he could deftly lead his expert and impassioned band of kindred musicians through the great unknown that was a Jeff Buckley gig - no set lists, no limits. Only The Moment.
A collection of digitally remastered soundboard DATs recorded around the world during the Mystery White Boy Tour, this album draws heavily from Buckley's full-length debut LP "Grace". Highlights include a recklessly seething reworking of "Eternal Life", a soaring performance of the moody "Grace", and the hypnotic, somber fan-favorite "Hallelujah" (performed as a medley with a cover of The Smiths "I Know it's Over").
The album's true treasures are the live show staples that Buckley never intended to record for official release. Three original unreleased Buckley compositions - "I Woke up in a Strange Place", "What Will You Say" & "Moodswing Whiskey" - are undoubtedly the centerpieces of the album. "What Will You Say" in particular deserves special mention. A particularly moving ballad, it directly addresses the issue that dogged the singer most during his brief recording career - the legacy of his late folk-singer father, Tim Buckley, and the long shadow he cast over Jeff's life, musical and otherwise.
Buckley's eclectic choice of
cover songs and his capacity to interpret them with integrity and passion
was the strongest evidence of his unique ability to meld distinct and
sometimes dissimilar styles of music into a fluid, singular musical expression
of his own. Nowhere is this more apparent than on a rendition of Big Star's
"Kangaroo", which features both the best individual and band
performances of the album. At once lilting and bruising, the Buckley band
version manages to inject a drama and fervor lacking in the original.
As the song careens towards a blazing, flailing finale, the overwhelming
sense is that you are bearing witness to the end product of a lifetime's
worth of struggle and effort - the reason why these four musicians lived
to take the stage night after night, week after week, city after city
- to share with you, the Moment.