Grace [Bonus CD + DVD] [RMST]

by: Jeff Buckley

Considering that Grace is the only actual album the late Jeff Buckley released during his lifetime, this Sony Legacy Edition, containing completely remastered versions of the original album, a 12-track bonus disc with bona-fide rarities, and a full-length DVD, proves a definitive and worthy addition to his catalog. Grace has been written about and discussed since its auspicious release in August 1994, and catapulted its creator to the forefront of popular music discourse. Since his death in 1997, the album has sold steadily and garnered an entirely new generation of fans. This new edition, remastered by the estimable engineer George Marino, complements producer and engineer Andy Wallace's original mix. It's full of warmth, depth and dimension, without rounding any of the album's wooly edges. The bonus disc is another prize. It contains the long-rumored but never issued track "Forget Her." This cut was tracked and finished for inclusion on Grace but was replaced by Buckley with "So Real" in the final sequence. There is also a previously unissued version of "Dream Brother" with different lyrics, as well as unreleased covers of Bob Dylan's "Mama You've Been on My Mind," Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Alligator Wine," a blues medley that begins with "Parchman Farm," and Nina Simone and Jesse Mae Robinson's "The Other Woman." In addition, two cuts from the oft-bootlegged but never commercially released promo the Peyote Radio Theater EP: Alex Chilton's "Kanga-Roo," and the Nag Champa remix of "Dream Brother." The other wildly bootlegged but otherwise unreleased promo rarities here are a cover of the MC5's seminal "Kick Out the Jams," the road version of "Eternal Life," from the Columbia Radio Hour disc, and the out of print Buckley/Shudder to Think collaborative cut "I Want Someone Badly," that appeared on the First Love, Last Rites soundtrack. What isn't here that was supposed to be is "Strawberry Street," written about -- but not included in -- the press materials that accompanied an early advance of the set. It's a vintage 1988 song recorded with John McNally and bassist Tom Goodkind of the Washington Squares. Hopefully it will turn up on something in the future. The DVD features the four Grace videos of the tracks "Grace," "Last Goodbye," "So Real," and "Eternal Life." But there's more: There is a new video for "Forget Her," with unseen footage, as well as an expanded version of the Making of Grace, with extra footage and interviews with bandmembers and Wallace that's still geeky in all the right ways. There's also a neat little discography chapter. The booklet contains notes on the cuts by Steve Berkowtiz, the reissue's producer, and a new essay by author Bill Flanagan. What it all adds up to is a fine, detailed package that gives fans a way to officially own superior versions of pirated items in much better quality and presentation, and a stunningly beautiful version of one of the '90s most important and defining albums; one that has, and will, one suspects, endure well in to the 21st century, and have its own place in the classic rock & roll canon. ~ Thom Jurek

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