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It is a sad reality of today’s music industry that style often triumphs talent, and style beats substance. Once again, this point was brought home to me as I listened to the latest posthumous collection of songs from Jeff Buckley. For those of you who have never heard of him, Jeff Buckley was a promising singer/songwriter who in the summer of 1994 released the studio album Grace. Despite its amazing collection of songs, the album peaked at #149 on the Billboard charts. But like many great artists, Buckley would not be appreciated until after his untimely drowning death outside of Memphis in the Mississippi River at the age of 30 on May 29, 1997. Since his death Grace has gone on to sell 2 million copies worldwide.

What separates this latest release from the other collections that have been put out since his death, is that this is the best single disc packaging and collection of songs yet assembled to cover Buckley’s too brief career. For people whose knowledge of Buckley might be limited to hearing his breathtaking cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on television dramas like The West Wing , The O.C., and Crossing Jordan, So Real’s combination of studio and live material serves as the perfect introduction to Buckley’s music. The original album versions of “Last Goodbye,” “Lover You Should Have Come Over,” “Grace,” and “Hallelujah” are all included here. Previously released live versions of the songs “Mojo Pin,” “Je N’en Connais Pas La Fin” are here too, as well as the previously released “Forget Her,”  “Eternal Life (Road Version),” “Dream Brother (Alternate Take)”,“The Sky Is A Landfill,” “Everybody Here Wants You,” and “Vancouver.”

For longtime Buckley fans the highlights of this CD are the previously only available as a promotional single acoustic version of “So Real,” recorded in Japan, and a previously unreleased cover of the Smiths song,  “I Know It’s Over.” The liner notes by David Fricke are excellent. The photographs and packaging is top notch as well. It shows that this CD was put together with loving care. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the too short life of such a talented artist.

You can buy SO REAL: SONGS FROM JEFF BUCKLEY right here.


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