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Sketches (For My Sweetheart the Drunk)

4.5 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 26, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Perhaps the most talented "son act" in pop music, Jeff Buckley combined the often harrowing eclecticism of estranged papa Tim Buckley with the rock acrobatics of Robert Plant. This posthumously released collection of four-track demos and sessions helmed by Tom Verlaine indicates that Buckley's astonishing full-length debut, Grace, was no fluke. The young singer-songwriter puts his falsetto to good use on an extraordinary collection of original material, from the soulful "Everybody Here Wants You" to the psychedelic "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave." And while his bluesy take on Porter Wagoner's "Satisfied Mind" may not be as revelatory as his earlier version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," this album offers ample proof that Buckley was among his generation's most gifted voices. --Bill Forman

Review

Jeff Buckley’s death was so rife with rock-star symbolism--he drowned after playfully jumping into a Memphis marina only to get swept away by a Mississippi undertow--that it’s easy to forget that he never quite became one.

The two-disc Sketches collects Buckley’s work-in-progress--selections from the awkward Verlaine sessions plus the aforementioned demos--into a typically mercenary and reputation-tarnishing memorial. Tempering his bluster into sultrty quiet storm probably seemed like a smart move for this sad-eyed sex symbols. But "Everybody Here Wants You" is strictly sub-Spandau Ballet balladry. Sketches is more unneeded proof that, in rock & roll, dead men ultimately tell whatever tales they’ve committed to tape, no matter how inconsequential or unfinished. -- Spin

Though the posthumous Sketches contains only rough drafts of tunes intended (and a few deemed inadequate) for the singer's follow-up to the outstanding 1994 debut Grace, its musical shimmer and emotional resonance compensate for missteps and a lack of polish.... From the salacious rock of Your Flesh Is So Nice to a forlorn cover of Porter Wagoner's country ballad Satisfied Mind," Buckley demonstrates a stylistic range and vocal honesty that few '90s singer/songwriters share. -- USA Today

[A] terrifying blend of the sparklingly wide-eyed and the sighingly world-weary.... Transplant his acrobatic musical suppleness into the human physique and Buckley would have been Olympian. -- NME

[A] testament to Buckley's role as a lifelong student of rock history.... [An] incomplete, yet affecting, farewell. -- Entertainment Weekly

[I]t's the clarity and punch of these [Tom] Verlaine versions [of Buckley's songs] that help bring out the promise of Buckley's rock-punctuated folk style.... -- The Los Angeles Times

[The late Jeff] Buckley had a trove of material prepared for his next album.... Powerful, impassioned and haunting, [these songs] are a sadly fitting legacy--sketches of what might have been. -- People

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 26, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: May 26, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • ASIN: B000006O7C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,266 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Weed on January 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I'll add a few thoughts for the person considering this CD, particularly who only knows the album Grace: The first disc of this set is a relatively finished product produced for Buckley by Tom Verlaine (with some subsequent minor clean-up). The second disc consists mainly of rough drafts for unrecorded songs, and should be considered as such. The second CD is not easy listening, and is really for the most devoted fans only (as is fully disclosed in the liner notes).

It is said that Buckley was dissatisfied with the Verlaine sessions. I recall that Buckley's biographer reported that Verlaine told Buckley, essentially: "If you don't like the tapes, destroy them, or they'll find their way into the public eye eventually." Buckley didn't destroy them. He and Verlaine worked on them in Memphis, then Buckley set them aside.

Buckley chose Verlaine to produce the sessions. Verlaine produced Buckley's music with a far more stripped-down sound then you find on Grace. Buckley and his band (save for the drummers on the tapes) had been touring for quite some time, and were deeply attuned to one another's playing. They had a wonderful sound, simple, centered on electric guitars (played with relatively few effects), bass, and drums, supporting Buckley's vocals. This is the sound that Verlaine, and perhaps Buckley, wanted to capture. And they did, very well.

I describe the sound as "simple"--what I mean is that the ingredients were as straight-forward as your basic bar band. What they did with those ingredients was 10 levels beyond your basic bar band. Buckley had developed into a first-rate writer of deceptively complex songs. A song, like "The Sky is a Landfill," might start out rather like a basic rock 'n roll song, but pretty soon you're in another place...
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By Jeffrey Ellis on September 26, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Assuming that I've heard correctly, this CD was compiled and released following Buckley's untimely death and that probably explains why the recordings have a certain rough feel to them at times. But no matter -- the unpolished production is actually perfect for Buckley's moody style. Jeff Buckley was one of those all-too rare artists whose power as a musician came not from slick producers but instead from the mournful yet exhilirating sound of his own voice. Though he died without acheiving the success that he deserved, Buckley had that most elusive of qualities -- a natural born charisma. He had one of those voices that could automtically posess the mind of the listener and that charisma comes through even in the most unpolished of recordings. Whenever I hear this unpolished album, its easy to imagine being in some obscure club and discovering, for the first time, a truly great talent with all the promise in the world ahead of him -- its the type of exhilirating feeling that I think everyone hopes to possess whenever they see some unknown band take the stage.
This is one of those CDs that to which I find myself continually drawn and its rare that a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one or two songs from it. Especially when one considers Buckley's eventual fate, the songs on this album have a certain fatalism on them. As a friend of mine put it, "It has a real drowning quality to it." I don't know if I'd go that far but the music is truly haunting as is Buckley's voice, its amazing range thankfully preserved here. Among the songs themselves, my personal favorites are the three that start off the second disk -- Nightmare by the Sea, New Year's Prayer, and especially Haven't You Heard.
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Format: Audio CD
This two-CD set represents, with the exception of one song, the work that would've become Jeff Buckley's follow-up to his magnificent debut album "Grace". It never quite reaches the dizzying romantic riff-filled goth/folk/R&B-inflected highs of that album, but it has its own beauty that cannot be overlooked.
The first disc comprises Jeff and his band's sessions with legendary Television guitarist Tom Verlaine. As detailed in David Browne's fine memoir "Dream Brother", Jeff had come to identify with Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's balancing act between artistic integrity and commercial success. Like Cobain, Jeff had come to resent the gloss liberally applied to his last album courtesy one Mr. Andy Wallace (although it suited Buckley's style far better than Cobain's), and decided he wanted a more "indie" feel to his follow-up. The Verlaine sessions did not culminate in a finished product, but rather finds Jeff feeling out his creative potential and directions.
"The Sky is a Landfill" is an explosive anti-media anthem, and "Witches' Rave" is a sweet piece of Smiths-inspired goth pop. "Everybody Here Wants You" is an outgrowth of the blues leanings present on 'Grace', complete with a fine, sensual lyric ("Coffee smell and lilac skin/You're a flame in me"). The cover of "Very Sexy" entitled "Yard of Blonde Girls" finds Buckley exploring grunge, and the off-kilter "Vancouver", a tale of infidelity set in London (leaving the title fairly inexplicable), is a likewise ennervating piece of rawk. The sparse ballads "Opened Once", "New Year's Prayer" and "Morning Theft" are the closest in spirit to 'Grace', but only hint at the greatness acheived there.
The real revelation from these sessions is the Nirvana-esque ballad/rocker crossbreed of "Nightmares by the Sea".
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