This site too slow? Try a mirror  --  Subscribe to the Guide  --  Find artist:
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

Nick Drake


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Folk/altpop or folk/rock with some jazz influences

Status:

Nick Drake died in 1974 but there have been several posthumous releases

See also:

Bryter Music: The Estate of Nick Drake

A Nick Drake fan site and another

Comparisons:

Hard to think of any, but he's had a huge influence on many contemporary folk musicians. Perhaps John Martyn or John Renbourn's early work. Others here mention Jeff Buckley and Kristin Hersh. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

Nick Drake's music is understated and haunting, more than a bit melancholy. Nick Drake is quiet angst and bluesy/folkie. Low-key. The feel of these albums is very early '70s, so if that kind of orchestration bothers you, it might take you a while to appreciate this music—it's worth the effort, though. This is music that has a greater effect on me than I realize at first—it's powerful in a subtle way. (Neile)

Acoustic guitar and vocals—somewhat melancholy. Nick Drake's songs and vocals have a beauty and delicacy and ethereal quality to them which few other artists, male or female, can come close to. Album recommendations for Nick Drake don't matter: get the boxed set, Fruit Tree, because as soon as you have one you'll want all the others anyway. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

His work is stunning—the guitar work, the vocals, the songwriting. It reminds me of Jeff Buckley in some ways. Definitely music that shouldn't be forgotten. (JavaHo@aol.com)

There are many more Drake songs that are so good—I'd just recommend you pick up the boxed set, Fruit Tree. :) I couldn't pick my favorite Nick song if I tried, but if I had a squirt gun to my head, I guess I'd go with the one that many Nick fans pick, "Northern Sky," one of the most stunningly beautiful songs ever, ever written. (alundra@netos.com)

Nick Drake is a brilliant singer/songwriter. I adore his voice and his songwriting. The song played in the VW ad is "Pink Moon" from the LP of the same name released in 1972. It is also on a compilation CD on his music, Way to Blue, and on a box set compilation called Fruit Tree. Way to Blue is a very good compilation and intro to his music. (wpm@value.net)

Recommended first album:

Way to Blue is a good sampler, but the Fruit Tree box set is essential and Five Leaves Left and Pink Moon (both included in the Fruit Tree set) are especially brilliant albums. (Neile)

If you're not familiar with Drake's music, do yourself a favor and get Way to Blue (a fine collection) or Bryter Layter (probably his best album). Very ecto (I think). (j.donahue@smtphost.elsevier.com)

Recordings:


Five Leaves Left

Release info:

1970—Island Records (U.K.)—IMCD 8

Availability:

Can be found in U.S. and U.K..

Ecto priority:

Essential for folk music fans

Group members:

Nick Drake—vocals, acoustic guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Paul Harris—piano on tracks 1 & 8
Richard Thompson—electric guitar on track 1
Danny Thompson—bass on tracks 1, 3 6, 8, & 10
Harry Robinson—arrangement of track 2
Rocki Dzidzornu—congas on track 2 & 6
Robert Kirby—arrangement of tracks 4, 5, 7 & 9
Clare Lowther—cello on track 6
Tristam Fry—drums, vibraphone on track 10

Produced by:

Joe Boyd

Comments:

Nick Drake's first album. The orchestration and overall sound of this album seem very dated today, but Nick Drake's haunting guitar playing and lyrics are timeless. I find this, together with Nick Drake's other albums, to be perfect for ending a long evening of listening to music: partly because the gentle and melancholy music is well suited to the early hours of the morning, but also because they leave a magic in the air which one can't spoil by playing anything else afterwards. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

This is the Nick Drake album I enjoy the most. It's very much a mood piece. (Neile)


Bryter Layter

Release info:

1970—Island Records (U.K.)—CID 9134

Availability:

Can be found in U.S. and U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Nick Drake—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Dave Pegg—bass
Dave Mattacks—drums
Richard Thompson—lead guitar
Ray Warleigh—alto sax
Mike Kowalski—drums
Lyn Dobson—flute
John Cale—viola, harpsichord, celeste, piano, organ
Pat Arnold and Doris Troy—backing vocals
Robert Kirby—bass & string arrangements

Produced by:

Joe Boyd

Comments:

A follow up from Five Leaves Left, this album has a similar feel to it but differs in that it has some purely instrumental tracks. I don't find this album quite as inspiring as the first, though I recall reading that John Wood and Joe Boyd considered this to be the best album they've ever produced. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

This collection isn't quite as essential to me as Five Leaves Left. It took me a long time to value it as much as Five Leaves Left and Pink Moon. (Neile)


Pink Moon

Release info:

1972—Island Records (U.K.)—IMCD 94, 842 923

Availability:

Can be found in U.S. and U.K.

Ecto priority:

Essential for folk fans

Group members:

Nick Drake—vocals, guitar, piano

Guest artists:

None

Comments:

This album marked Nick Drake's return to recording after a period of severe depression, and was his last. At only 28 minutes long this album appears to be bad value, until one considers the unequaled intensity and beauty of the music it contains. The songs feature only Nick and his guitar and were recorded over a very short period. Having finished, he refused to let anyone alter the music in any way, and refused to add any more claiming that that was all he was capable of playing. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

Pink Moon is a haunting album. Like Five Leaves Left, it has an immediate emotional affect on me when I play it, so there are times I simply don't want to play it, but there's nothing like it. (Neile)

I'm one of those persons who bought Pink Moon after seeing the VW commercial (sigh). I knew *of* Nick Drake before the commercial came out, but didn't know what he sounded like; I was even meaning to buy one of his albums, then the commersh came out and I heard the song 'Pink Moon' and didn't know it was Nick Drake until I was surfing on Amazon one day when they featuring his album. I immediately bought the album. I am so glad I did! His songs and his delivery are magic. He is simultaneously sweet and scary. It is hard to describe his style except to say that it is sparse; just he and his guitar (a little piano solo on "Pink Moon" itself). His voice is thin, but pleasing—wispy. I listen to it all the time—morning or late at night, but I'd say it's definitely more for late at night. (russvr@blarg.net)


Time of No Reply

Release info:

1986—Hannibal/Ryko—HNCD 1318

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for Nick Drake fans

Group members:

Nick Drake—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Richard Hewson—orchestra arrangement and conducting on 1 track
Richard Thompson—electric guitar on 1 track

Produced by:

Frank Kornelussen and Joe Boyd

Comments:

This is a collection of various songs released posthumously. It contains some long forgotten alternative tracks recorded for Five Leaves Left, some demo and home recordings, and also the last four songs Nick Drake recorded, prior to his death in 1974. By its nature this album is somewhat inconsistent. I particularly like the home recordings, and the last four tracks are utterly stunning. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

Fruit Tree

Release info:

1986—Hannibal/Ryko

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

A box set including Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, Pink Moon, and Time of No Reply.

This is a box set containing Nick Drake's four albums, together with an excellent booklet, containing a brief biography, lyrics to all the songs and various photographs. A substantial investment, but well worth it. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)


Tanworth-in-Arden 1967/68

Release info:

No date—Anthology (Italy)—Ant. 15.11

Availability:

At one time it was fairly easy to find—may be harder to find now

Ecto priority:

Recommended only for Nick Drake fans

Group members:

Nick Drake—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Unknown woman—backing vocals on 1 track

Comments:

This is likely a bootleg, though I found it in a store that doesn't carry bootlegs. Hmm. Anyway, it's a poorly recorded (fuzzy and buzzy) collection of home recordings of Nick Drake doing a bunch of covers and early songs. Any Nick Drake fan will be delighted to have this, though the sound quality might bother some. I don't listen to this often, but when I do I am struck again by Nick Drake's talent. (Neile)

For the completist, I recommend the boot Tanworth-In-Arden 1967/68, a collection of various tunes culled from work tapes. (alundra@netos.com)


Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake

Release info:

1994—Island (U.K.)—IMCD 196

Availability:

Fairly wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for those who only want a sample of Nick Drake's talents

Comments:

After hearing raves about him here on ecto I thought I'd pick this up when I saw it used. Definitely nice work. The instrumentation is much better than I expected it to be—and opening with the "Cello Song" definitely helped win me over. His voice reminds me a lot of David Massengill. Definitely nice work. Sounds much more modern than I expected—hard to believe it was recorded about 25 years ago. (jjhanson@att.net)

This has wonderful lyrics and an haunting voice. It strikes the same chord in my brain than Kristin Hersh's solo work. Definitely worth buying. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

So many "best-of" albums seem to leave out that song that you consider quintessential, but a lot of thought went into the song selection for Way To Blue, and if you haven't yet experienced the life-change that you'll get from discovering Nick Drake's music, I highly recommend this compilation as an excellent primer. The only other song I would have put on that album would have to be "Man In A Shed," speaking of thinking about that guy/girl you once loved. I lied—I'd also add "Clothes of Sand." (alundra@netos.com)


Further info:

In addition to the albums listed above, Scott Appel's album Nine Of Swords is also notable. It contains a number of Nick Drake compositions including some that Nick Drake never recorded himself, and was made with the approval of Nick Drake's family. While his guitar technique is excellent, Appel's voice does not, I feel, do justice to Nick Drake's music. This is only really worth getting for those (like me) who feel compelled to obtain every last scrap of Nick Drake music available. (anthony@csr.lbl.gov)

After you've gotten to know Nick's music, I also highly recommend the tribute album Brittle Days, on Imaginary Records, ILLCD 026, if you can find it, that is. It's a UK release, and I feel this album is a tribute that drips love from every pit (since CDs don't have grooves). This tribute contains covers done in the styles of the various contributors, as opposed to trying to sound like Nick did. (alundra@netos.com)

There is an email discussion list for Nick Drake. Subscribe by sending a message of "subscribe" to place-to-be@lists.fixedpoint.org


Thanks to Anthony Kosky for his work on this entry.

Why the ads?
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-05-26 18:38:31.
Please request permission if you wish to
reproduce any of the comments in the
Ectophiles' Guide in any context.

The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music is copyright © 1996-2004 by the editors.
Individual comments are copyright © by their authors.
Web site design and programming copyright © 1998-2004 usrbin design + programming.
All rights reserved.