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Jeff Buckley Grace 25th Birthday

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Editor’s Note

I’ve always loved music. Even from my pre-teens when I used to lock myself in our council house “best room” and sing along to my father’s 78s - happy days. When we eventually joined my father who was working in Hong Kong that love for music persisted and I remember going into a record shop on Hong Kong island and purchasing 45s which I actually marked with the date of purchase (and still have them!). It was on our second visit to Hong Kong that the Beatles arrived at the colony and although not hooked immediately did eventually succumb a few years later when we returned to the UK. My first job was an apprentice at Harrods department store in the kitchen furniture department, just round the corner from the record department with its wide range and listening booths…

Skipping ahead many years, I moved to Australia for 7 years when my music purchases virtually ceased. In 1984 we returned to the UK and a few years later I began to improve my hi-hi system and recommenced music purchasing. I started by buying all fifty CDs recommended by a major hi-fi mag as the best sounding recordings. I have always had a eclectic taste in music and this selection covered every genre excluding classical. In 1999 I came across Jeff Buckley’s GRACE and for some unknown reason bought it - I knew neither the artist of the album - perhaps because it was so cheap. I played it the same evening along with another major favourite of mine, Phil Campbell’s FRESH NEW LIFE. I was taken aback by Buckley’s distinctive voice with a vocal range I’ve never heard before. I had started to play ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ when the phone rang. It was a young friend’s mother who informed me that her son (and my daughter’s ex-boyfriend) had died after suffering from cancer. Deeply upset, I went back to my listening room and played the song which matched the atmosphere and emotional feelings - it moved me to tears.

I then delved into this uniquely talented artist and found out about his fatal accident and his father Tim Buckley whose voice bore some resemblance to his son’s. After I started Shakenstir I got to know Glen Hansard of Irish band The Frames (and now a major solo artist). During an interview he told me that while the movie The Commitments was being promoted in the USA (in which he starred as then band’s guitarist) Jeff Buckley was a roadie for the band. The band was due to perform at the Sin-e club but with the other band members engaged Glen took Buckley with him. On the night Jeff Buckley performed ’Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ for the first time. Glen was stunned and the club was so impressed they eventually offered Buckley a residency.

Buckley and his band were also superb live performers as previous live releases have indicated (including a recording I have of his only Glastonbury performance recorded by the BBC), so the new live recordings should be very interesting, enormously welcome and must-haves for all Buckley fans. GRACE is an album every music lover of every age should own. And while many of his recordings have been unearthed following his tragic death GRACE remains his crowning achievement, and one of my top ten albums of all time.

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