New Album Of Previously Unheard Jeff Buckley Recordings To Be Released : The Record The album You and I, due in March, is made up of songs recorded in Buckley's very first studio sessions after signing to Columbia Records, and displays the singer's wide range of influences.
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New Album Of Previously Unheard Jeff Buckley Recordings To Be Released

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New Album Of Previously Unheard Jeff Buckley Recordings To Be Released

New Album Of Previously Unheard Jeff Buckley Recordings To Be Released

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Singer Jeff Buckley is considered one of the most distinctive rock singers of the last 20 years, despite the fact that he died in 1997, at the age of 30, after producing only one studio album. It's called "Grace." It contained a now-famous cover of Leonard Cohen's song, "Hallelujah."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HALLELUJAH")

JEFF BUCKLEY: (Singing) Well, it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled king composing hallelujah.

WERTHEIMER: Today, his record label announced a new album of previously unheard recordings. The album is called, "You And I." The 10 songs were never intended for sale or distribution. They were Buckley's effort to help his producers understand the feel and sound that he wanted to achieve with this album. As NPR Music's pop critic Ann Powers explains, this collection gives a new sense of the singer's talent and range.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: Putting these songs together, songs from jazz and R&B and rock and heavy metal, shows us what Jeff Buckley would become and how he knew from the beginning what he would become.

WERTHEIMER: So we asked Ann to pick a few songs from the upcoming release that provide the best windows into Jeff Buckley. Her first choice, a Smiths cover, "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE BOY WITH THE THORN IN HIS SIDE")

BUCKLEY: (Singing) The boy with the thorn in his side, behind the hatred there lies a murderous desire for love, love. How can they look into my eyes and still they don't believe me?

POWERS: Well, Jeff Buckley loved The Smiths. There are two Smiths covers on this record. And I think what he got from songwriters in The Smiths was a sense of how to make songs that are both extremely theatrical but also subtle and sensitive. And it's a very forthright version that shows Buckley at his calmest and clearest.

WERTHEIMER: So, Ann, you are a critic. You obviously analyze this man's music. Does this latest release advance the story? Does it enrich the legend? Or do you think that this is, like, the end of it? Do you think we've come to the bottom of the well, here?

POWERS: (Laughter) I think what we get out of listening to these very, very, very early studio recordings of Jeff Buckley is that clarity into what he was doing and really how that influence extends today. Today we have, in indie music, artists who are crossing all kinds of boundaries. You know, it's very standard. But when Jeff Buckley was doing it, it felt like a more divided time, I think. And it's just a joy to be able to hear him playing and vamping on these songs and trying different voices. There's some hard blues. There's some real metal. And there are those tender recordings too. And there's funky stuff, like his recording of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People."

WERTHEIMER: Let's listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY PEOPLE")

BUCKLEY: (Singing) Sometimes I'm right, others I'm wrong. My own beliefs are in my song. The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then, makes no difference about the group I'm in. But I am everyday people...

WERTHEIMER: You can hear all of this song, Jeff Buckley's cover of "Everyday People," from the album of unreleased songs. The album is called "You And I," and you can hear the song at npr.org. Ann, thank you very much for doing this.

POWERS: Thanks so much for having me, Linda.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY PEOPLE")

BUCKLEY: (Singing) We've got to live together...

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