So where do we start with this review? Where can we start? May be an even better question. “Sketches for… My Sweetheart The Drunk”, was going to be “My sweetheart the drunk”, the follow up to the critically acclaimed “Grace”, the 1994 album Jeff Buckley recorded with his band (Matt Johnson, Micheal Tighe and Mick Grondahl-Percussion, Guitar and Bass respectively) (others are creditted such as Gary Lucas, and Karl Berger for lesser roles).
After “Grace” Jeff and the band did several years of touring, until the record label became impatient and wanted a second album from Jeff. This album was going to be “My sweetheart the drunk”, the album that never got completed.
Whilst on tour Matt Johnson left, and the band were forced into getting a new drummer (eventually settling for Peter Kindred), but the rest of the line up remained intact . And with this they set off to record new material for “My sweetheart the drunk”.
To begin with the band recorded a session with Tom Veraline (a former punk lead man from the band “Television”) (this appears on the first disk of the album). These are all fully mixed and studio recorded, but Buckley was displeased with them (which is why it wasn’t released as an album).
The second disk consist’s mainly of the 4 track demo’s he made in his house away from the band whilst spending time on his own and contemplating the album. It also has 2 unmixed versions of songs from the Veraline saessions and the song with which his memorial ended.
Disk 1 track listing- (credits are in brackets where the whole thing wasn’t Buckley)
“The Sky Is a Landfill” (Jeff Buckley, Michael Tighe) – 5:09
“Everybody Here Wants You” – 4:46
“Opened Once” – 3:29
“Nightmares by the Sea” – 3:53
“Yard of Blonde Girls” (Audrey Clark, Lori Kramer, Inger Lorre) – 4:07
“Witches’ Rave” – 4:40
“New Year’s Prayer” – 4:40
“Morning Theft” – 3:39
“Vancouver” (Jeff Buckley, Mick Grondahl, Michael Tighe) – 3:12
“You and I” – 5:39
So the opening track “The sky is a landfill”, has been noted as being anti-establiment from the lyrics (“You sing in praise of suicide. We know you’re useless,
Like cops at the scene of the crime,
With your steroids and your feedbag and your stable
and your trainer,
I got a mail bomb for you, Mr Strong Arm.”)
And it has also been noted as being about the way men treat women badly
(“Moving with grace the men despise,
and women have learned to lose.”)
This (like the whole of the first disk) was recorded with Tom Veraline, and has been compared to “Eternal life” from “Grace” with the angry lyrical composition and strong charging vocals. The musical backing adds to the feel of the song which right from the opening line shows one way that Buckley could have taken his career had it not been cut short. The heavy almost post-punk feel with anger strained along every word which is sang as clear as day. An excellent start to the album, and questions must be asked as to why this wasn’t released as “My sweetheart the drunk”. 10/10
The second track, “Everybody here wants you”, is somewhat ballad like, and shows a second direction where Buckley could have taken his talents. A tender, soft caring love song, with lyrics that rival the opening tracks and a voice that would bring an angel to it’s knees in tears. The song has emtions, images, brilliant lyrics and vocals and everything you need to make a perfect song. The best of the lyrics though, are probably the opening ones:
“Twenty-nine pearls in your kiss, a singing smile,
coffe smell and lilac skin, your flame in me.”
The third track “Once opened”, is another softer tender song, with lyrics that will again blow your mind and the vocals will blow your blown mind ever more. A simple single guitar offers the musical support for Jeff’s vocals to shine as ever. Although this song is brilliant, it does seem like a let down compared with the two previous songs (then again “Stairway to heaven” would also feel like a let down compared to them).
The fourth song, “Nightmares by the sea” is on the first and second disk (the second disk version is a none mixed version, and sounds basically the same just without the polish). This song shows a darker side musically to Jeff that we rarely see, and this is shown in both the vocal and lyrical content as well as the musical one. Despite the praise I’ve heaped upon it, it’s not as good as the opening two songs, but it’s standard is high. As with all of Buckley’s work it’s hard to review it with any consistancy compared with other artists’ as he was (and is) so much better than a high marjority of them. 8/10
“Yard of Blonde girls” is the fifth song, and is the only non-Buckley written (or collaborated) song on the first disk. It was written by Audrey Clark, Lori
Pages: 1 2