Buck 65 has often been compared to Tom Waits. I see the point but so far this comparison has been over-flattering. I like Buck 65, I especially like Man Overboard, even though his voice has grown much manlier since then. I understand what people mean when they compare Waits and 65: the voice, the genre bending (centered on rock for Waits, on hip hop for 65), the tough lyrics. I think Buck 65 might have the talent to write this century's Swordfishtrombones but he still has to write his Closing Time.
This Right Here is Buck 65 is his introduction to the US market. He's on v2 you know. It's weirdly constructed, this record. Old songs re-done, new songs, alternate versions, album cuts, it appears quickly put together but sounds impressively cohesive, without sounding boring like some of his previous records which suffered from excessive cohesion. My favourite is the new version of Man Overboard's "Pants on Fire" complete with the new bear voice. Talkin Honky Blues' "Roses and Blue Jays" is also a stand out, like the acoustic version of "Centaur," the dance-y "Wicked and Weird", "Out of Focus" which sounds like Sage Francis in a slowcore band. "Phil" was my favourite part of Square
There are a few painful ones, moving stories told too explicitly to really move, like "Cries a Girl," featuring a chorus reminiscent of your future teenage boy's pick up lines: "she tries to hide the scars/her eyes remind me of the stars i saw/diamonds divine/in the corners of her eyes." The backing music was brilliant, and ends up a bit wasted. And that's what makes him no Tom Waits. Waits always had a wiseman's approach to the stories in his songs, tired at 25, almost dead since 74.
If you're not familiar with Buck 65 i wouldn't think of a better record to start with. If you're familiar with him you've already heard most of these songs and even though most of them were redone you may find it difficult to find this record truly satisfying. I enjoy it quite a bit. It nurtures my insomnias.
/feb 1st 2005/