Grace (Legacy Edition)
hose who have maintained an allegiance to legal album purchasing merit a respect secondary only to that reserved for veterans and Children's Miracle Network volunteers. The days of guiltless music listening are months or years behind many of us, as we cleave to our mp3-riddled iPods and laptops, dirtied by electronic sin. While our actions don't reflect this truth, the economic benefits of downloading pale in comparison to the value of an album's liner notes and artwork. In fact, the emotions evoked from an album's music are often tinted by the aesthetics of its respective liner notes. Whether this connection occurs because of a musician's intent to match the album art with their songs' timbre, or simply because of an associative reflex within the listener, the standard CD-R freak is missing out on a valued aspect of the album.
The re-issue of Jeff Buckley's Grace captures this cohesion between music and art. Just as tracks from Sgt. Pepper's swirl about the sailor suites' psychedelic color scheme, and the melodies of Sigur Ros' ( ) cleanse the listener's mind with the frosty nakedness of its infamous cover, the photographed cover of Grace (Legacy Edition) captures the richness and prestige of Buckley's only completed album, while providing an introspective allusion to his existence.
The cover photograph comprises an intense Jeff Buckley, illuminated by stage lights, while his backdrop broods in dark shades of purple. Just as his youthful glow stands out within the photo, Buckley' prodigious talent formed a class of one in a generation whose eyes were covered by undercut hairstyles.
Ten years removed from its original release, Grace (Legacy Edition) reintroduces the heavenly abilities of Jeff Buckley through a remastered version of the original L.P, a slew of rarities, and a DVD featuring "The Making of Grace" and seldom-seen music videos. "The Making of Grace", alone, almost offsets the $30+ price tag of the Legacy re-issue. Beautiful, contrasted footage captures Jeff Buckley's early solo performances through a lens filter, while verifying that the cherubic figure was, indeed, human. His hands glide across a Telecaster's fret board with a surgeon's precision, as his vocal cords spread across four octaves, transcending the limitations of the typical male voice box. Within his rendition of the "Corpus Christ Carol", he sings not like a woman but as one, squashing the conviction of a traditional falsetto.
Revealed within "The Making of Grace," is Buckley's desire to perform not as an indulgent singer-songwriter son-of-a-gun, but as a member of a band. His selflessness paid great dividends, as the core members of the band were all integral forces during the creation of Grace. Drummer Matt Johnson and bassist Mick Grondahl practice impeccable timing and restraint, switching from complementary components to driving forces whenever the spotlight calls. And though he didn’t join the band until the tail end of the recordings, additional guitar player Michael Tighe's writing forever changed Grace as we know it. He introduced a guitar riff to Buckley so moving, it became the verse to a new track, "So Real", which went on to oust "Forget Her" in the final track list.
That track and it’s smooth anti-balladry begins a collection of rare, mostly previously unreleased tracks on the second disk of the three-disk set. Two-thirds of these tracks are covers that reflect the expansive musical taste of Buckley: everything from the rootsy folk of Bob Dylan's "Mama, You Been On My Mind" to the deafening garage rock of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" gets its due. Though not all the covers are incredibly impressive, the opportunity to taste the various musical sides of Buckley is both enlightening and thrilling.
Sure, my stark refrigerator is still feeling the effects of Grace (Legacy Editon)'s hefty price tag, but the bonus music, music videos and revealing "Making of..." documentary make this young re-issue a worthy buy, even for an owner of the original version.
Reviewed by: Kyle McConaghy
Reviewed on: 2004-09-03