The elastic-voiced Jeff Buckley only released one CD in his lifetime – the gale-force triumph “Grace” – but since his death from drowning in 1997, an avalanche of demos and live tracks have seen the light of day. One of the best of the posthumous releases is “Grace Around the World.”
It’s a boxed set which goes the DVD route and unearths 17 of Buckley’s TV appearances from 1994 and 1995, including a goose-bump raising rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” from MTV Japan and a mesmerizing 12-minute workout of “Mojo Pin” from German television.
Less than essential is the included documentary “Amazing Grace,” an hour-long tribute to Buckley that alternates EPK interviews with concert footage and comments by everyone from Sebastian Bach to Duncan Sheik. Strangely enough, Jeff’s famous father Tim Buckley doesn’t merit a mention.
On the plus side, Buckley’s bandmates discuss in considerable detail his final days in Memphis working on his second CD. If there are any lingering doubts that Buckley’s death at age 30 was anything but accidental, those suspicions are put to rest by buddies who say the musician was jazzed about the Memphis sessions despite his decision to junk some early, Tom Verlaine-produced demos. The best moment of the doc comes when Buckley is asked about his influences and he answers, “Love, depression, anger, joy . . . and Zeppelin.”
Also included in the three-disc set is a CD containing audio versions of the DVD tracks. All and all, the set is a dazzling reminder that the Mystery White Boy walked a tightrope between melodrama and easy humor, despair and eternal life.
[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in “Blender,” “People,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Toronto Star,” and “Newsday.” She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]