Mystery White Boy
RELEASED: May 9, 2000
Dream Brother – (Jeff Buckley / Mick Grondahl / Matt Johnson)
I Woke Up in a Strange Place – (Jeff Buckley)
Mojo Pin – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas)
Lilac Wine – (J. Shelton)
What Will You Say – (Jeff Buckley, Chris Dowd, C. Azar)
Last Goodbye – (Jeff Buckley)
Eternal Life – (Jeff Buckley)
Grace – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas)
Moodswing Whiskey – (Jeff Buckley / Michael Tighe)
The Man That Got Away – (H. Arlen / Ira Gershwin)
Kanga Roo – (A. Chilton (Big Star)
Hallelujah/I Know It’s Over (Medley) – (Leonard Cohen/ Johnny Marr – S. Morrisey (The Smiths))
It’s been only three years since Jeff Buckley’s untimely death by drowning, and Mystery White Boy marks the second posthumous release from the immensely talented singer-songwriter in that three-year span. It’s not quite on par with Jimi Hendrix, who for a while seemed to have a new album out every month, but it may provide some minimal comfort for Buckley’s fans.
Whereas Sketches (for my Sweetheart, the Drunk) was comprised of unreleased material from Buckley’s never-released second album, as well as other rarities, Mystery White Boy is a live collection, featuring mostly previously available songs from Buckley’s 1994-1996 tours. Because those did turn out to be the only tours for Buckley on an international scope, it’s hard to separate the tragedy from this 12-song disc, but taken strictly as a live album on its musical merits, Mystery White Boy is a stunning CD, capturing an intensity from Buckley that transcends his studio work.
Buckley’s backing band — Michael Tighe (guitar), Mick Grondahl (bass), and Matt Johnson (drums) — is stellar, and its tightness has much to do with the passion of the performances. The group provides a perfect complement to Buckley’s forceful singing/yelling on such tracks as the opening, guitar-heavy rocker “Dream Brothers,” a compelling “What Will You Say” marked by a rising urgency in the music, and a heavy “Last Goodbye” with an almost psychedelic guitar intro.
But even in hushed tones, such as through much of the hypnotic “Lilac Wine,” a song with a cabaret-esque tinge, Buckley is never less than riveting as the focal point of these shows.
Buckley’s stature has grown quickly since his passing. And in many ways his command of the listener’s attention is reminiscent of another performer who died too young and went on to legendary status — Jim Morrison. Much like Morrison, Buckley seems capable of exploding at anytime during these songs. When he does, it is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Mystery White Boy is more than just a tossed-off live CD from a performer gone too soon and more than yet another reminder of the loss music suffered when Buckley drowned. It may be one of the best live albums rock has produced.