Tim Buckley, Greetings From L.A.

In the bistro queue in regional New South Wales, upon hearing my audibly American accent amongst a sea of Aussies, my friendly, rotund and unavoidable neighbour in line exclaimed that his favourite record — which he apparently plays regularly to this day — was this one. As a resident of the greater City of the Angels, I promised him I'd give it a spin. The album art is promisingly snarky enough, with a postcard of the suffocating smog I remember as a kid and Buckley in stamps on the back in a gas mask (the postcard, written to Herb Cohen and Mo Ostin, no less, also doubles as the track listing and was even removable in the earliest pressing), and Buckley's delivery here has all the sensuously hazy Jim Morrison depth of those L.A. days but a much more flexible range. Unfortunately, it's the actual songs that are the problem. There's some decent rock ("Night Hawkin'" in particular) and a fair bit of competent acid jazz, and as no prude I appreciate the submerged eroticism inherent in those styles, but Buckley is just far too horny to listen to. Between encouraging infidelity ("Move With Me") or foot fetishes ("Devil Eyes") or even prostitution and, gulp, a little whippin' ("Make It Right"), there's nothing this man wouldn't have indulged in; the excessive "Get On Top" is probably the most egregious of these, and with that title it doesn't take much imagination to figure out why. "Sweet Surrender" shows he was perfectly capable of cooking with the lid on, and his mournful bluesy elegy to a lover who left ("Hong Kong Bar") is maturely earthy without being dirty, but the rest of this smouldering pay-by-the-hour motel room comes across as way too much and way too strong. My wife and I had a nice dinner, and I had a nice chat, but as pleasant a chap as he was I don't think we have much overlap in music. (Content: sexual references and adult themes.)