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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Half of the Balance
This book is as relevant and as interesting to read as the Patrick Humphries version and if both are read, the two together will probably provide the closest interpretation there will ever be on the life and recorded works of the enigmatic Drake. Dann does take a different slant to Humphries it wouldn't be worth the effort if it wasn't - perhaps it's a more clinical...
Published on 1 May 2006 by Terry Smith

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Way to go..
Cards on the table, I've really liked Nick Drake for the last 20 years or so, but that's no thanks to the efforts of his various biographers.

Trevor Dann's book is no exception; maybe it has to be accepted after all these years that there's really very little story here, but I didn't even think he made the most of what he had; way too much of what Salinger...
Published on 31 July 2008 by Robert Machin


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Half of the Balance, 1 May 2006
This book is as relevant and as interesting to read as the Patrick Humphries version and if both are read, the two together will probably provide the closest interpretation there will ever be on the life and recorded works of the enigmatic Drake. Dann does take a different slant to Humphries it wouldn't be worth the effort if it wasn't - perhaps it's a more clinical interpretation, warts and all. Dann (in much the same way that Humphries did) traces Drakes life and recording history based on interviews (and reference to other written records) with contempories of Drake but it's best remembered that the recall of individuals can change a lot over 30 years (for better or worse). Dann's view that Drake had a schizophrenic form illness that may or may not have been a substance abuse psychosis is interesting based on what a modern day psychiatric diagnosis of the symptoms would conclude - but again the truth can never be known, lots of questions are left unanswered and are perhaps unaswerable. A biography of this type can never be totally accurate - but it's still worth reading!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The (Continuing) Search for Nick Drake, 6 Mar 2006
For fans and others who have read Patrick Humphries's biography (Nick Drake, Bloomsbury, 1977) Trevor Dann's book may come as something of a disappointment. Although an enjoyable read, to the casual reader it adds little to Humphries's work. What it does have that Humphries's lacks, is permission (I assume) to quote lines from Drake's songs, which makes interpretation of the songwriter's increasingly fragile mental state a much easier task. Dann's book also suggests that Drake's drug use was far greater than is suggested in the Humphries book and as a result the reason for Drake's rapid spiral into despair appears much more clear cut. In a sense, although this "another late-60s/early 70s artist destroyed by drugs" theory may well be the case, for me it detracted from my mental image of Drake the tortured, sensitive and possibly spoilt artist who, like others before him, was simply destined never to find a comfortable fit with society nor to be accepted by it during his lifetime.
The book contains a useful discography, extensive references and mini-reviews of all Drake's songs, which I enjoyed.
Darker than the Deeper Sea does move the story on in that it attempts to explain the rise in popularity of Drake's music in the 1990s and into this century; what it fails to capture, in my humble opinion, is the bleak, frightening intensity of Drake's implosion in the way that Humphries captured it. But that may simply be because I read the latter's book first.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph, the sort Mr. Drake deserves, 31 July 2007
By 
Mr. C. J. Iredale "juxtapose" (London Town) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a wonderful book. I bought it when it was released and have read it again recently and loved it more than the first time round. It succeeds where Pat Humpheries' biog failed (albeit ever so slightly); it has some levity and doesn't draw more than it has to on the concept of 'poor boy' and 'misunderstood poet'; he openly discusses whether Nick's personality had faults and flaws, something that has been over looked as he has become something of a legend. Not than Mr. Dann is having a pop at Nick Drake, but just attempting to paint a more balanced and level picture of this much loved artist. A cautious purchase and you will not be disappointed, especially if you are familiar with the Nick Drake story. For converts and the converted alike...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent biography but Drake stubbornly resists unmasking, 8 May 2007
By 
This review is from: Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake (Paperback)
This second biography of the musician Nick Drake (1948-1974) uncovers new turf by conducting the first interview with Sophia Ryde (to whom, it is revealed, Drake wrote a letter left by his bedside when he died) and drawing upon a 2004 Belgian radio interview with Drake's sister and friends. Trevor Dann went up to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, four years after Drake and thus has the advantage of being able to draw upon his near-contemporary recollections.

Dann's narration of Drake's childhood and early adult experiences is evenly paced and open-minded. With both of Drake's parents having died, Dann speculates openly on the atmosphere at home in Tanworth-in-Arden, concluding that "childhood in a posh family in a quiet, isolated village could indeed be a torment". Nick is painted as an aloof, somewhat supercilious figure, "the apple of his mother's eye", who was tall, articulate, academically unmotivated and, as he got older, near-schizophrenic as a result of excessive cannabis consumption. Stories of sex are conspicuous by their absence: Nick seemed to "float above the carnal world of student sex", Dann states. Both Linda Thompson and Robin Frederick deny that their relationships with him were consummated. Rumours that Drake's bulging jeans on the front cover of his first album betray an erection brought on by the male photographer are humorously handled by Dann, who states that this might rather be "...well, bollocks".

His handling of Drake's three albums - Five Leaves Left (1970), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972) - is hampered by scant analysis of his lyrics, and is rather too influenced by Joe Boyd's and Robert Kirby's recollections. He does suggest that the proliferation of the word "ride" in later songs (e.g. Free Ride, Rider on the wheel) was a play on Sophia Ryde's name and that the "ban on feeling free" in River Man and "Do you curse where you come from?" in Hazey Jane I indicate a stifling and depression-inducing family atmosphere. Dann comments that Nick's sister Gabrielle did not seem to know him well and that all those who met him seemed to have the impression of a spectral, but nevertheless unmistakable presence. Luckily, Dann doesn't make the mistake of assuming he has access to Drake's 'inner truth', himself admitting that Nick seems "always elusive, never predictable; capable of warmth and affection, but never quite reliable enough to form a staunch friendship or be a dependable workmate". The person who understood Drake best would appear to be John Martyn, who wrote the track 'Solid Air' about him.

In spite of the bubbling adoration to be found within the Drake cult, Trevor Dann is not afraid of quoting unflattering opinions (one recalls his job was to "get [Nick] out of his stinky bed in his grotty flat in Notting Hill...He was a complete pain in the arse"). Nevertheless, there are two key flaws to this well-written and otherwise delightful biography: Why does Dann not discuss what exactly was in the letter found by Nick's bed? Even if Ryde refused to show it to him (presuming she still has it in her possession), it seems remarkable that Dann doesn't flesh out his scoop more. Secondly, he closes his book with speculations that Drake's depression and overdose of antidepressants at 26 point to child abuse, claiming that eight of Nick's songs "fit the child abuse template". Having meticulously presented his account of Drake's life up to now, it does seem a shame that Dann chooses to leave the reader at the close in a wilderness of unsubstantiated speculation. (3.5 stars)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and thoughtful..., 25 Dec 2010
By 
marcoscu "marcoscu" (Chorley,UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is perhaps the best written of the books I have read about Nick Drake. It is sensitive and sympathetic but without losing objectivity. This is not the definitive biography of the complex sing songwriter and much of his life remains shrouded in a mystery and obscurity that Trevor Dann is unable to lift. Also, the final 80 pages consist of a track by track discography and song reviews. This is useful and good to have but forms no part of the biography of Nick Drake.
I hope this will not be the last biography written of Nick Drake, we are still waiting for the true definitive study of his complex life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, well written and authoratative, 16 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This book is a real achievement. Trevor Dann has done what no one has done before for Nick Drake. Based upon extensive research and careful reconstruction of known data Dann has put together a coherent description of Nick’s childhood, school years, recording years and final decline. Important new facts were uncovered, many of which were crucial to the assembly of a coherent understanding of Nick’s life, music and death.
I never understood how someone with such talent, from a background of such privilege and from a much touted loving home found so little solace, in the love and support that family provided when he was depressed because his records didn’t sell. Now I believe I understand.
Questions about his sexual orientation are answered from new interviews, in the words of many people who knew him.
In short, after reading this book, all of the remaining questions that I had regarding Nick have been answered, and what is more, the answers “feel right”.
The book is also a wonderful read. It is very well written, and each sentence is packed with information. There is no sense of things having been added as filler. All such supporting materials are put in appendices at the back of the book. This is an extraordinary first book for Dann, tackling a difficult subject, three decades after Drake’s death; it surely is an excellent example of careful, respectful, forensic research, that comes off both literate and authoritative.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant biography, 19 April 2007
By 
Greg Farefield-Rose (Hertfordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Brilliant second widely-available biography of the extremely talented, troubled troubadour who died virtually unknown in 1974 but has since been gradually elevated to the status of cult legend by an army of young and older admirers.

The first Nick Drake tome by Patrick Humphries (Nick Drake: The Biography) is an excellent read but was written in 1997 when the internet was in its relative infancy and the cult of Nick was still developing. Trevor Dann's new book takes the numerous websites and chat rooms into account as well as interviewing new key people in Nick's short life who have emerged over the past few years.

Trevor's book also usefully researches and debunks some of the myths of Nick - such as his famous supposed handing over of final album Pink Moon to the receptionist at Island Records - as well as looking more objectively than many idyllic, romanticised writers do at how difficult he was to be around. He still does this though with devotion to the music of the subject and refreshingly often uses first names in an age when most journalists use surnames only.

Darker Than The Deepest Sea is a superb, widely researched biography which also illustrates the development of a cult legend in the modern electronic age.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Way to go.., 31 July 2008
By 
Robert Machin (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake (Paperback)
Cards on the table, I've really liked Nick Drake for the last 20 years or so, but that's no thanks to the efforts of his various biographers.

Trevor Dann's book is no exception; maybe it has to be accepted after all these years that there's really very little story here, but I didn't even think he made the most of what he had; way too much of what Salinger calls 'that David Copperfield crap' (which would be OK if it didn't just make Drake sound like a spoilt, moody and not particularly interesting public schoolboy), even more padding about his Dad's adventuring in Singapore and the West Midlands motor trade (interesting enough in a 'not-really' sort of way), some very tenuous drug and mental illness speculation, the usual ragbag of semi-learned digressions (how easy must they be to pull off in these Google-equipped days).

As seems obligatory when discussing Drake too, every recollection or anecdote or detail is driven home with sledgehammer weight and significance and simultaneously treated with a kind of precious reverence in the context of the Events to Follow. The title is much in keeping with that style - next to 'Heavier than Heaven', which does the same job for Kurt Cobain, it's my new favourite stinky rock-biog title.

I remain convinced there is a story there though - I would loved a great deal more digging into where that remarkable style came from, and exactly how this weightless, almost context-free individual came up with an astonishing collection of songs - unfortunately it's not here. The closest anyone has come to that is in Ian Macdonald's extended essay in 'The People's Music' and Joe Boyd's reflections in 'White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s', the only efforts to capture Drake that I'd really recommend.

I'm just glad I found Nick Drake's music before I found his back story, or wild horses wouldn't have dragged me to listen to it.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New, original, controversial!, 6 Feb 2006
By 
Christina (London) - See all my reviews
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Dann's book is a fine book in that it provides additional information to what is already known and is not simply a rehash of everything else already said - with the detail of Sophia Ryde's letter thrown in. Dann tells us that 'Sophia' rhymes with 'higher' and it is this type of helpful 'anorak'-style information that gives the book its page-turning hook. Dann lists every address that Nick ever lived at - complete with house number - in Burma, Tanworth-in-Arden and London; there is even a potted history of his father's career in Burma and a brief summary of the career of Rodney's father. There are reproductions of old school and Cambridge college reports - complete with lists of exams passed and at what grade - interviews with his masters and room mates and reproductions of furious exchanges of letters - when Nick dropped out - between father Rodney and Fitzwilliam. There are new interviews with Linda Thompson, Chris Blackwell, Jeremy Mason, Richard Charkin, et al. There is no direct interview with Sophia apart from a mention of the track, Free Ride, and her reaction to it + plus a reference to the alleged 'suicide note' addressed to her. The extra details are commendable and the writing original. Not an easy achievement on a topic that has been worked to death with little scope for new material.
On the reservations side, there are unsubtantiated claims that Nick was a rather heavy heroin user, suffered from schizophrenia and also, various 'digs' at his character. The source of the heroin user claim is not revealed, so presumably, it could come from either of three sources: John Cale, keyboardist, ex-Velvet Underground who provided the backing music to 'Northern Sky', obliquely refers to it, the late Scott Appel - who gets a mention in the book - but as far as can be seen, Scott in his attempt to 'reveal the truth' is possibly blurring Nick with himself, e.g., the 'speedballs' and 'demerol', etc., these sound very 'American' in description. If the source is his actress sister, Gabrielle Drake, and this is possible, because the letter she read out in the film 'A Skin Too Few' is reproduced here, there is clearly approval by Nick Drake's Estate for at least some of the content Dann's. Many details possibly could only have come from Gabrielle, in which case, the claims are probably more substantial than if they were merely speculation based on hearsay. Dann's view that Nick Drake had schizophrenia caused by too much cannabis use is, he says, based on recent research, however even more recent research suggests that there is actually no link between cannabis use and mental illness, after all.
The latter part of the book has a brief track by track analysis of Nick's work.
All in all, the book is in easy to read print, which makes it a rather short book, but is better than expected, over all. It has lilac end papers and a coverwhich is a photgraph taken by the late Keith Morris. It supplements Patrick Humprhies in-depth biography well, athough the title 'in search of', with rock writer Peter Guralnick's leit motif of a 'quest' to 'find' a mysterious long-gone figure, probably sits better with Humphries' book. A good analogy would be that Dann's book is the equivalent of the sensationalist Life & Death of Sylvia Plath by Ronald Hayman to Jacqueline Rose's learned The Haunting of Sylvia Plath in that you get a better sense of Nick Drake's true character from the cautious Humphries' biography, but the 'squalid facts' from Dann with no punches pulled nor pussyfooting around the family's possible sensibilties.
In addition,there are some new and interesting photographs included.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book, 12 April 2006
By 
I was very dubious about another book trying to tell the story of Nick Drake ..... the Humphries book was so disappointing ..... but this a step change - very authentic, truly 'sympatico' with the subject but not hagiographic at all. Trevor Dann is a career Radio and TV producer and manager so I expected the worse but his style is very appealing and very very thorough. I put it down hoping he'll write another book soon. John Martyn perhaps?
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Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake
Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake by Trevor Dann (Paperback - 8 Feb 2007)
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