Occasionally a recording surfaces that represents not only a holy grail for fans of the artist in question, but stands as an important historical document of an era. For those listeners fascinated with the strange and wonderful career of Tim Buckley or those with an interest in the `60s Greenwich Village folk scene, LIVE AT THE FOLKLORE CENTER NYC: MARCH 6, 1967 is such an item. Recorded at one of urban folk music's most important breeding grounds on a 2-track tape machine with no amplification, in front of a casual audience of a few dozen people in a living room-like setting, the disc captures Tim Buckley in between the release of his first and second albums, a watershed moment in his unusual development as an artist. Here, the listener can hear the first inklings of Buckley's later blossoming as an uncompromising, highly influential, and totally enigmatic singer. Though still firmly in the singer-songwriter mold of his debut self-titled Elektra LP, the late Orange County, California native is starting to explore the concept of his incredible voice as an instrument, letting his vocals fly freely above his energetic guitar strumming with a bristling energy and powerful enthusiasm that must have been electrifying to behold. In addition to wide-eyed, still innocent-sounding renditions of compositions from TIM BUCKLEY and the follow-up/psychedelic masterpiece GOODBYE AND HELLO, Buckley performs six songs never previously released either on studio or live albums, including the driving, catchy, shoulda-been-a-hit "I Can't Leave You Loving Me" and the gentle, yearning, "Norwegian Wood"-like "Cripples Cry," both of which capture his voice at its most crystalline and heart-piercing. Perhaps the show's most poignant moment, however, is Buckley's version of Fred Neil's song "Dolphins." The difference between the performance captured here and the studio version from 1973's SEFRONIA is striking; in 1967 the singer seemed to be searching for meaning in the song, still hopeful, but just beginning to intuit the vast challenges and heartache that the world had in store for him. By 1973 however, less than two years away from his tragic death, Buckley sang the song with the voice of a man tortured by demons and wizened by years of trying to make his way in an ever-critical, unforgiving commerical environment. Recorded in the year of SGT. PEPPER'S and ARE YOU EXPERIENCED, the album is a snapshot not only of one man in creative transition, but of a shining moment when a few brave popular musicians were fully putting aside financial considerations in the pursuit of great art.
Q (Magazine) (p.122) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] vital historical document of his early years....His unique qualities as a singer-songwriter still shine through."
Clash (magazine) - "His famously soaring voice illuminates favourites like 'Wings' and 'Aren't You The Girl'..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.81) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] crystalline example of Buckley's transcendental power."
Uncut (magazine) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] breathtaking document....It presents a fleeting vision: Buckley as a wet-behind-the-ears folksinger, stripped down to just voice and guitar, pouring out 16 subtly complex, inner musings of the soul."