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Starsailor is a 1970 album by Tim Buckley (see 1970 in music), released on Herb Cohen's Straight Records label. It marks the moment Buckley's folk rock origins became invisible as he fully incorporated jazz rock and avant-garde styles into his music. Although it alienated elements of his fanbase upon release,[1] it also contains his best known song "Song to the Siren". This more accessible song was written much earlier than Starsailor's newer material, originally in a more traditional folk arrangement, as shown on the later released compilation album Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology. Bunk Gardner, a former member of the Mothers of Invention, joined Buckley's normal band to record the album. Also, Buckley began working again with lyricist Larry Beckett, after a three-album absence.

TimBuckley Starsailor.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1970
Recorded10–21 September 1970
StudioWhitney Studios, Glendale, CA
GenreExperimental rock, psychedelic folk, avant-folk, jazz-pop
LabelStraight Records LP
Enigma Retro CD
4 Men with Beards LP (2007 Reissue)
ProducerTim Buckley
Tim Buckley chronology
Greetings from L.A.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Down Beat5/5 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideC–[3]

Leontyne Price attended a concert in New York City during the supporting tour and told Buckley, "Boy, I wish they were writing things like that for us opera singers," to which Buckley responded, "Well, do what I did; get your own band."


Renewed interestEdit

"Song to the Siren" has been covered by a variety of artists, most notably This Mortal Coil, which featured on the 1984 album It'll End in Tears. John Frusciante, in 2009, covered this song on his album The Empyrean. Amen Dunes covered the song on their 2015 released "Cowboy Worship" EP. The British trance act Lost Witness also released a remix single; "Did I Dream (Song to the Siren)".

While the revival of "Song to the Siren" renewed interest in Buckley amongst independent artists in the 1980s, the success of his estranged son, Jeff Buckley, in the 1990s, inspired indie rock artists to look at the career of his father.[4] The British band Starsailor took their name from this album.

The album had a brief reissue on CD by the Enigma Retro label, but like the other Tim Buckley release on the Straight Records label, Blue Afternoon, it drifted out of print due to legal battles over who owned the rights to the music. This stems back to a 1976 separation and lawsuit between Herb Cohen and Frank Zappa, the co-owners of Straight Records.[5] As a result, many of the albums released on Straight (including Captain Beefheart's Lick My Decals Off, Baby) are very difficult to find on CD. In 2006, the album was released on the iTunes Music Store, making it available to the general public once more. In 2007, 4 Men With Beards reissued the album on vinyl, as well as the rest of Tim Buckley's nine-album catalogue. However, CD copies of this and Blue Afternoon remained out of print and difficult to find on the market until the release in 2017 of The Complete Album Collection box set.


It was featured at #50 in Pitchfork Media's Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.[6]

In addition, Starsailor was selected as the 47th best rock record of all time in the 1987 book The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time.[7]

Track listingEdit

All lyrics by Larry Beckett and all music by Tim Buckley, except where noted.

Side One

  1. "Come Here Woman" (Buckley) – 4:09
  2. "I Woke Up" – 4:02
  3. "Monterey" – 4:30
  4. "Moulin Rouge" – 1:57
  5. "Song to the Siren" (Buckley) – 3:20

Side Two

  1. "Jungle Fire" (Buckley) – 4:42
  2. "Starsailor" (John Balkin, Beckett, Buckley) – 4:36
  3. "The Healing Festival" (Buckley) – 3:16
  4. "Down by the Borderline" (Buckley) – 5:22



  1. ^ a b Allmusic review
  2. ^ Down Beat review
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: B". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 22, 2019 – via
  4. ^ "The Rough Guide to Rock". Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  5. ^ "Herb Cohen - Random Notes". Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  6. ^ " Top 100 albums of 1970s". Retrieved 2008-05-03.
  7. ^ Gambaccini, Paul. The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books. 1987