All content copyright © Roll Publishing, Inc

Visit us on the web at

Roll Back
< back

Leonard Cohen Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Columbia/Legacy)

Tim Buckley Live at the Folklore Center, NYC ~ March 6, 1967 (Tompkins Square Records)

Peter Walker Long Lost Tapes 1970 (Tompkins Square Records)

Though he’s now a frail 75, Leonard Cohen’s return to performing after decades of monastic isolation might go down as the greatest comeback since the Resurrection. Unfortunately—a word used in the literal sense here—much of what brought him back was the need to replace the near millions in royalties his former manager stole when he was away. But dating from long before all of that, of course, there’s his towering oeuvre of classic Columbia albums beginning with Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs From a Room. Taped the year after those two masterpieces were released, the CD/DVD package Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 documents the singer-songwriter’s riveting set at the historic British music festival, a performance that must rank as one of the greatest ever captured. Thanks to fire-starting fence-jumpers the atmosphere at the Woodstock-inspired outdoor event had turned downright ugly by the time Cohen and his band took the stage—after a not-exactly crowd-calming set by Jimi Hendrix. Wide-eyed, sardonic, and clearly stoned, Cohen magically quells the tension-thick night air with breathtaking renditions of “Bird on the Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Suzanne,” and other jewels. Amazing. The DVD features commentary from Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and band member Bob Johnston.

A veritable saint to today’s freak-folk contingent, Tim Buckley drew on traditional folk, rock, and progressive jazz to become one of the chief architects of psychedelic folk. With a multi-octave voice not unlike that of his likewise-departed son Jeff, he left us a handful of groundbreaking LPs whose searching sounds proved too challenging for the mainstream of their day. But for all of his bold experimentalism Buckley was at his roots a folkie, and Live at the Folklore Center shows the young troubadour in solo acoustic mode mere months before the release of his sophomore LP for Elektra, the genre-defining Goodbye and Hello. Here, before an audience of about 35, Buckley pours his soul into soaring, intricately picked tunes like “Song for Jainie” and Fred Neil’s “The Dolphins.” Fans will revel in the stripped-down performance of Goodbye and Hello’s “I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain,” but they’ll go absolutely gaga for the six previously unreleased songs.

Guitarist and Woodstock resident Peter Walker is another figure cited as a huge influence by contemporary acid-folkers. A regular on the early Greenwich Village circuit, Walker was at the forefront of Indian classical music’s Western crossover and studied with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. His mind-melting, modal raga style puts him in the company of John Fahey, Davy Graham, Robbie Basho, and his late friend Sandy Bull, but, unlike those players, Walker freely utilizes both electric and acoustic guitar. For inner voyagers Long Lost Tapes 1970 is a gift from the gods, a transcendental drone-fest recorded at Levon Helm’s house that features jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson, Detroit drummer Muruga Booker, and tabla master Badal Roy. The titles here say it all: “Meditation Blues,” “Camel Ride,” “Mellowtime.” It may be 40 years old, but this is the best local release of the last year by far.—Peter Aaron

Leonard Cohen:
Tim Buckley, Peter Walker:

Roll magazine -

Ulster County Tourism