When I think about Jeff Buckley and his music there’s one word that comes to mind. Untainted. His only gift to us (not counting posthumous album Sketches For My Sweetheart the Drunk) was 1994’s Grace, a collection of some of the most ethereal recordings the world has ever had the pleasure of hearing. He was renowned for being a gentle and warm person, effortlessly caring and loving for all those that surrounded him in his life. However, he was taken from us all too prematurely in a freak drowning incident at the tragic age of 30. So why, 19 years on from his death, are people trying to make money out of his name?
The culprits behind all this are Legacy Recordings (Or a catalog division of the more recognisable name Sony Music Entertainment), who recently released a ‘new’ Jeff Buckley compilation entitled ‘You and I’, featuring, and I quote, “10 previously unreleased and virtually unheard studio recordings”. An odd statement, considering that literally every track on this album has found it’s way onto the internet and various unofficial Jeff Buckley compilations numerous times over the years. It’s kind of an insult to devote Jeff Buckley fans, who i’m sure are all growing horribly tired of these people trying to profit from everything the Buckley name has to offer.
As far as releasing albums goes, it’s usually a given for a band or an artist to release music videos to accompany certain tracks on the album. Not really commonplace for compilation albums though, especially when they’re full of covers and not original material…oh, and when the artist behind the music is, well, dead, and therefore has no creative say in said videos. Yet Legacy Recordings were clearly insistent on making videos to coincide with the release. Modern, cool, ‘interactive’ videos, should I say. These videos were released for people to see on Jeff Buckley’s official Facebook page, and it’s safe to say that the fans caught wind of the phony attempts at credible, accompanying videos.
It’s also apparent, just by being on Facebook and the internet, how much Sony Music are trying to promote the album. Yes, this is obviously what any label or company would try and do during the release of an album, however given the circumstances and the actual quality of the album, it just makes them seem even more desperate and slimy than they initially come across as.
Not only is all this insulting to his fans, but I think it’s not allowing him, to a certain extent, to truly rest in peace. People need to move on and stop discrediting his name by trying to flog a (literal) dead horse. Let the man rest and let his music be remembered for what it really is, honest and pure, and not some gimmick. I’m not saying let’s stop talking about him, or let’s stop listening to his music, i’m saying that big labels and companies need to stop trying to squeeze every last bit of money out of a big artists’ name when they pass, especially when the actual release from the label is a lying, distasteful and generally poor piece of art that i’m sure Jeff would not have wanted to be released in such a tacky way.
Sony Music could offer up a half-baked response to these accusations if they wanted to. For example, they might say that the aim of this album was to introduce new people to Jeff’s music, who maybe haven’t heard any of these recordings. It would be a fair point, but we all know that it wouldn’t be genuine and would have been the last thing on their mind during the making of the album. It would be a fairly short-lived, shallow counter-argument.
Jeff Buckley isn’t the only victim of this kind of treatment, with other former artists’ music being re-heated and served to the public after passing, such as Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, with an endless amount of posthumous albums being released under their names. However, things like this aren’t going to stop happening anytime soon as long as there’s still money to be made from it. It seems cash truly does rule everything, even after death.
On a more serious, final note, let’s also not forget that the same Sony Music behind all this has recently been in the news regarding Kesha’s allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Luke, Kesha’s producer and employee of Sony Music. Kesha has since said on Instagram that Sony Music offered to release her from her contract with them, if she apologised publicly and said that she was never sexually assaulted by Dr. Luke, which we all can tell would be a lie. It would be an injustice and an insult to not only Kesha, but victims of sexual assault worldwide. Don’t let corporate monsters get away with stuff like this. Name and shame.