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Various Artists | Sing a Song For You - Tribute to Tim Buckley (Manifesto)
In the pages of the last issue of this very magazine the singer with The Czars admitted to recording a version of Song to the Siren for this album because of his love of Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser's version of the song, rather than any feelings for the work of Tim. So I feel less bad myself also admitting to being more of an admirer of some of the artists who cover his songs here than of the man himself. The Cocteau connection continues with Morning Glory covered by Simon Raymonde (another ex-Twin) and Anneli Drecker (singer with Bel Canto) - piano-based and a rare and lovely highlight. Then there's Dream Letter by Brendan Perry, ex-Dead Can Dance and the maker of a fine and under appreciated solo album a year or so back, from which this sounds like a regrettably lost out-take. Even more reminiscent of Scott Walker, but a bit ordinary nonetheless, is Cousteau's Blue Melody. The modern face of the 4AD label is represented by Mojave 3 who fail to get too excited about Love from Room 109 at the Islander. Their lead singer Neil Halstead does an infinitely better job on his own with Phantasmagoria In Two which is dominated by some cute chiming guitar, and is one of the two or three real gems here. This album comes from America, but most of the artists are Brits. A rare exception is Heather Duby, who comes from over there and covers I Must Have Been Blind. She produced a trip-hop-meets-4AD flavoured album in 1999 so good you'd have thought she was from over here, and she provides one of the rare songs on this set that works up some feeling. Fellow trip-hopper Dot Allison brings us back down a few dozen notches on the passion-o-meter with a plodding Sweet Surrender. Which mention of the p-word brings me neatly to my conclusion. My knowledge and experience of Tim Buckley is not extensive, as I've said, but qualities I do remember are jazzy originality and quirky vocal passion. This lot don't have much of the latter, and seem unable to rustle up much of the former, especially when they try too hard to do so, by trying to sound like the man himself. It all ends up sounding a bit too Leonard Cohen, a bit too Goth, for my taste.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001