He’s been called an edgy urban poet, the sound of New York, a confessional singer-songwriter, and an explorer of the links between rock, race and rebellion whose work should be taught in schools. With songs covered by artists as diverse as punk pioneers The Circle Jerks (“Wild in the Streets”) and the neo-folk band Vetiver (“Lon Chaney”), Jeffreys is truly unclassifiable.
After a hiatus from recording during which he helped raise his daughter, Jeffreys released The King Of In Between on his own Luna Park label. Co-produced with Larry Campbell (Grammy-winning producer with Levon Helm) the album marks a return to the more rootsy sounds of his earlier work, especially the acclaimed 1977 Ghost Writer.
Long known for his amazing roster of supporting musicians, with names such as Dr. John, Sonny Rollins, James Taylor, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Phoebe Snow, and Sly and Robbie, The King of In Between doesn’t disappoint. Among the contributors are Duncan Sheik, with caterwauling guitar on “I’m Alive,” and old friend Lou Reed on the insinuating doo-doo-doo backing vocals on “The Contortionist.” “My then fourteen-year old daughter came to the studio and laid down a doubling vocal on top of Lou’s part. I don’t think she understands how cool that really is—yet,” said Jeffreys.
Another theme that emerged was the strong connection to his childhood and growing up next to Coney Island. That affection led to the ripping last-minute one-take track “Coney Island Winter.” The song is a wintry clarion call to the powers that be, to the politicians who “say they’re going to fix this town,” but meanwhile “Jobs are gone, they came and went/all the money has been spent/all the games are broken down.”
After a string of records in the seventies including American Boy & Girl, One-Eyed Jack and Ghost Writer, the eighties brought the fiercely rocking Escape Artist, which yielded radio favorites “R.O.C.K.” and a cover of garage classic “96 Tears.” After Guts for Love, a record chronicling the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, Jeffreys returned with Don’t Call Me Buckwheat, a complex and searingly honest exploration of being biracial in America.
“I couldn’t be happier with the new record. It’s been a labor of love and it’s completely true to me, a real reflection of everything I stand for. I’m back and I plan to remain on the never-ending tour.”