If this is your first listen to Jeff Buckley, and it doesn’t get you straight down...
Helen Groom 2007
10 years after his tragically early death, Jeff Buckley’s name is one that constantly crops up when bands list their influences. The list of those who have recorded tribute songs is equally impressive, including PJ Harvey, and Rufus Wainwright.
So Real acts as an introduction to Buckley’s legacy, comprising material from the only full-length album he recorded, 1994’s iconic Grace, demos he was working on at the time of his death in 1997 (the posthumous unfinished album Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk), live tracks and previously unreleased recordings.
It also serves as a way of getting round all the hype now attached to Buckley. The decade since he died has seen a flood of releases on a scale that must come near to the Tupac offerings, and his elevation into musical sainthood, accompanied by wailings about his early death and comparisons with his father, Tim Buckley.
Ignore all that – the best way to approach Buckley is to sit down and listen, and make up your own mind as his incredible voice soars around you and wraps you up in a blanket of sound.
While it was almost inevitable that there would be a compilation to mark the anniversary of his death, and a question of whether one was needed, this one does run the range of his music. You’ll find songs here where Buckley unleashes his intensity in blistering live performances, as on 'Eternal Life'', to the achingly beautiful ''Hallelujah'', and the burning passion of ''Lover You Should Have Come Over''.
Buckley completists should note the previously promo-only version of ''So Real'', showcasing the beauty and power of Buckley’s vocals, and a previously unreleased cover of The Smith’s ''I Know It’s Over''. In fact the only track striking an off note is ''Everybody Here Wants You'', which veers dangerously close to nu soul.
There is little here that doesn’t merit its place on this unofficial greatest hits. If this is your first listen to Jeff Buckley, and it doesn’t get you straight down to the record shop to buy a copy of Grace, you clearly can’t hear properly.