As grunge lay flailing in the rain of Seattle, the last thing anyone expected was a bona fide prodigy appearing, messiah-like, to save the day for passionate melodic intensity. But that’s precisely what Jeff Buckley did 10 years ago. The fact that his legacy has been a regrettable line of mewling Brit impostors (Coldplay, Keane and their kind) should not count against him. On first hearing Buckley’s Grace, time stopped as one drank in the miracle of its beauty?a kind of unbearable ecstasy that recurred throughout his modest body of work, not least on the sorely under-appreciated Sketches For My Sweetheart, The Drunk. Posturing as Buckley could be, music oozed from his every pore. The sweet pain of “Grace”and “Last Goodbye” remain an aural elixir for all true rock romantics. Ten years on and remastered, Grace sounds more swoopingly lyrical and breathlessly eclectic than ever. “Lilac Wine” is soppy, and the take on Britten’s “Corpus Christi Carol”is mannered, but the soaring assurance of the rest? Zep echoes, Asiatic strings, Leonard Cohen cover and all?belies the album’s short gestation.
Eclectic isn’t the half of the Legacy Edition’s second CD. Here we have Buckley the chameleon having a stab at Hank Williams, Nina Simone, Alex Chilton?even the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams”. It all sort of works, too, complementing two versions of “Dream Brother” and one of “Eternal Life”?as well as “Forget Her”, a sorrowful near-classic and this set’s “You Know You’re Right”.
Finally, there’s a DVD featuring the four Grace videos, a new clip for “Forget Her”, and a doc on the making of the album?complete with footage of Buckley and band working on it at Bearsville’s Studio A. “I’m an easily distracted person,”Buckley admits as he wanders through Bearsville’s back roads in Ernie Fritz’s footage. “So this is great.”It was great. And it produced some of the most thrilling music of our time.