Remastered CD Starsailor is a culmination of Buckley's experiments and with former Mothers of Invention Bunk Gardner on sax and alto flute, the story is complete. This album endures as one of the most legendary albums ever made by a singer/songwriter. Tim Buckley's most experimental album and one of his most artistically successful. Buckley's recorded output was uneven; he never quite comfortably fit into the singer-songwriter mold and tried out all sorts of musical personas during a cut-short career. As much influenced by Cathy Berberian as Bob Dylan, Buckley saw himself as a vocalist extroadinaire, an ambition which in my opinion led him to musically overreach even on his best work. On Starsailor, the stars were aligned so to speak. The material is strong in an avant-garde vein and his musicians, especially his underrated guitarist and collaborator Lee Underwood, are particularly sharp this time out. The title cut itself is an overdubbed accapella tour de force; Cathy would have been proud!
After his beginnings as a gentle, melodic baroque folk-rocker, Buckley gradually evolved into a downright experimental singer/songwriter who explored both jazz and avant-garde territory. Starsailor is the culmination of his experimentation and alienated far more listeners than it exhilarated upon its release in 1970. Buckley had already begun to delve into jazz fusion on late-'60s records like Happy Sad, and explored some fairly "out" acrobatic, quasi-operatic vocals on his final Elektra LP, Lorca. With former Mother of Invention Bunk Gardner augmenting Buckley's group on sax and alto flute, Buckley applies vocal gymnastics to a set of material that's as avant-garde in its songwriting as its execution. At his most anguished (which is often on this album), he sounds as if his liver is being torn out -- slowly. Almost as if to prove he can still deliver a mellow buzz, he throws in a couple of pleasant jazz-pop cuts, including the odd, jaunty French tune "Moulin Rouge." Surrealistic lyrics, heavy on landscape imagery like rivers, skies, suns, and jungle fires, top off a record that isn't for everybody, or even for every Buckley fan, but endures as one of the most uncompromising statements ever made by a singer/songwriter.