6-19-12 Nick Drake
Singer / Songwriter Nick Drake born 1948, Heart’s Singer / Songwriter Ann Wilson born 1951; Pink Moon.
I was quite infatuated with Island Records UK when I was a youngster, even writing off to them for catalogues etc. I was of the opinion that everything in their catalogue bared investigation; indeed, it still does, 40 years hence. Of course, many things that were once obscurities are now accepted and “known”.
I believe that 2 of Nick Drake’s 3 LP’s got a US release, at the time. Why Capitol / Island didn’t do “Bryter Layter” then is a bit of a mystery to me. I believe I originally had a US copy of the “Five Leaves Left” LP, with it’s totally different cover to the UK LP packaging; I don’t remember if I had a US or UK LP of “Pink Moon”; My “Bryter Layter” was definitely a UK Island copy. All of these LP’s were sold in the 1980’s, when they first went for fantastic prices; I never paid more than $4 for any of them.
As my tastes went more towards rock bands, Nick Drake’s introspective SSW ( = singer / songwriter) style was not really my bag, then. Yes, I had some UK folk music on LP, but – was this “folk” music? Aah, produced by Joe Boyd! I certainly loved other records produced by Joe Boyd, notably Island Records 1969 masterpiece “Kip Of The Serenes” by Dr. Strangely Strange, 100% a contemporary of Nick Drake.
In 2009 (or so), a got an SA-CD of Nick Drake, “A Treasury” – which has been re-mastered into 5.1! Wow, a totally different experience to the somewhat claustrophobic exercise of his original LP’s. Yes, it’s real 5.1, but – as you can imagine, Nick is center stage, instrumentation is spread all around. Nice stuff, find a copy if you can, it’s worth the $10 – $15!
I remember being somewhat shocked that “Pink Moon” was being used to sell Volkswagens! At the time, I figured that some earnest publisher had done their job by getting this obscure music “placed”, and generating some revenue. But from that point onwards, it seemed like he became, “The Legendary Nick Drake”. Yes, I bought the first mass production book about him, which seemed to shed little illumination upon his sad story.
I figured I had the 3 albums, so what could they put into a boxed set that I didn’t already have? Oh, I guess there were a few ‘song bones’ that got properly polished etc. But I’ll stick to the 3 albums, and a few latter day Island UK CD singles, for my Nick Drake collection; that, and the aforementioned SA-CD, of course.
But as the sidemen pass away, for me each year the story grows slimmer. I believe one of the arrangers passed away now too. Joe Boyd still speaks glowingly of his hesitant protégé, but who will speak up for Nick Drake when Mr. Boyd can no longer speak?