The Album Collection – #6: 1994, Jeff Buckley, Grace

by Ray_North on April 30, 2013

Unknown-4Thus far, my colleagues and I have highlighted new albums in our feature on great albums – but, I wanted to go back a few years and explore one of the great albums that I have in my own record collection, Jeff Buckley’s Grace.

It has a story to it, it has a personal resonance, and it is, quite simply a stunning piece of work.

I remember the day I got it – myself and Mrs North had not long moved into our first house together, we had no kids then and Saturdays were spent reading the papers, idly wandering around shops and then going out in the night, usually to Liverpool. We had a lime green sofa, and on the Saturday I discovered this album, I lazed on it and read a remarkable story about a young musician called Jeff Buckley who had been found dead in an open water swimming accident at the age of 30, and how his father, Tim Buckley, had also been a singer had also died tragically young of a heroin overdose. The article suggested that the single recorded album by Jeff Buckley was a remarkable piece of work in which Buckley’s angelic falsetto voice and poignant song-writing were an eerie echo of his father’s work which similar in tone, even though the two had only met once, when Jeff was just 8 years old.

Now that is a rock and roll story, a truly great rock and roll story – that morning, I purchased a copy of Grace from HMV Birkenhead and that afternoon, myself and Mrs North curled up on our green sofa and listened to it together.

What an album.

It is a beautiful piece of work, made even more romantic by the story that surrounds it, and the fact that it will remain forever Jeff Buckley’s contribution. But what a contribution.

His voice is simply mesmerising. The album opens with the willowy Mojo Pin in which his voice competes with the haunting tremolo acoustic guitar, reaching as it does orgasmic crescendo. You know from the off, that you are in for a fantastic album. But, it doesn’t let up. Buckley’s performance on every song is just exquisite – you feel his pain on Last Goodbye, his confusion on the title song Grace and his euphoria on So Real. It is just relentless genius. Even, the much played, cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, is just sumptuous.

I read later that Jeff had once played a gig in Glasgow University, just him and his acoustic guitar. In the audience was the young Thom Yorke who had not long released Pablo Honey and was writing and recording The Bends, but such was the influence of Buckley that night, that he immediately went back to his band, scrapped everything that they had done and re-recorded the everything again.

I get that.

By the time Mrs North and I had reached the last haunting track Dream Brother, I knew that we had experienced something special and that this was an album that was always going to be really important to us. And that is precious.

If you don’t have Grace, you need to get it, curl up on your own green sofa and let the beautiful forever young, Jeff Buckley take you to a special place.

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