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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 21 January 2004
Nick Drake was and is one of those cult artists you hear about- see Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Mackenzie, Nico, Gene Clark- they all died of alcoholism or depression or drugs or in accidents or in suicide and so on. The dead cult singer tag- one that helps people classify and recognise certain artists from a posthumous vantage point, but of little use to the actual artist...& I loathe the idea that the allure of youthful death, or self-immolation holds some attraction towards artists like Nick Drake- but it probably does. The first things I heard about Drake were John Martyn's Solid Air and Dream Academy's Life in a Northern Town. A name to drop and an atypical example of a singer who sold very few records in his own, short lifetime- but who has gone on to find an audience, who recognise the beauty and sadness and everything else. A kind of music beyond time, or just out of time- forever apart from our universe- perhaps that's why it stands out & arrests people so when they hear it?
Way To Blue was a brilliant compilation from 1994, here in remastered form- a brief survey of the three-albums proper on Island (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Later, Pink Moon) & the outtakes album on Hannibal Records (Time of No Reply). I say this now, if you have the money- just get all the albums, or better yet, the Fruit Tree Boxed Set. When you listen to this, you'll want to (even the muddy recorded bootleg album I've heard is great...).
But Way to Blue compilation was my way to Drake, & it remains a brilliant budget priced primer into his back catalogue: great photographs throughout the booklet (he looks like he could have been in Ride or Supergrass in several pics!), a nice introduction by producer Joe Boyd & lyrics/credits: nice attention to detail, which you don't always get on compilations. These 16 tracks (two from Time of No Reply; five from Five Leaves Left; Five from Bryter Later & four from Pink Moon)are simply perfect- it's a collection of music just over an hour in length. One you could simply put on and KNOW...
Of course, I love every song here- Drake's voice and guitarplaying is hypnotic and compelling- & there are a number of guest players who add to the sound (Danny Thompson, Dave Pegg, PP Arnold, Richard Thompson & John Cale etc. Then there is producer Boyd, and arrangers such as Harry Robinson and Robert Kirby- the latter provides a stunning soundscape for Drake's vocal on Way to Blue...
Drake is not alone, one of those arresting singers- records like Over (Peter Hammill), Solid Air (John Martyn), the Sandy Denny compilation from the same series, Astral Weeks (Van Morrison) & Dream Letter (Tim Buckley) operate in similar climes. His influence can be found in many acts- Bonnie Prince Billy (I See a Darkness), Mark Lanegan (Field Songs), Gemma Hayes (Night On My Side), Mark Eitzel (Songs of Love, which features the AMC-song Western Sky- an American take on Drake's own Northern Sky) & the undervalued Sunhouse (Crazy on the Weekend- though track Crazy is most close to Drake & fitted well alongside him on the soundtrack to 24:7).
Sure, it's that doomed melancholic youth thing- but to discount that would also lead to a world without Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis, Leaving Las Vegas (novel), Rimbaud, Plath...and so on. The lyrics sound pure and timeless, now Nick Drake is out of time. Hard to pick out songs- they're all wonderful- the ones that stand out are the fragile Black Eyed Dog, the gorgeous Northern Sky, the orchestral lull of River Man, the ironic-soul inflected Poor Boy, the pure Time of No Reply & the otherworldly Things Behind the Sun ("It happened before"). The tracks from Bryter Later verge on pop, whereas Pink Moon is extremely minimal and Five Leaves more orchestral...Drake's sound is explored wonderfully here...
Way To Blue is a sublime record, and it's so strange that his songs turn up in strange sixties timewarp shows Heartbeat/The Royal...still, even banal entertainment can make people go "Who's that?". He was Nick Drake.
"They'll all know/That you were here when you're gone" (Fruit Tree)
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This is an excellent introduction to the work of Nick Drake. It also provides an entirely new perspective on his genius since the tracks are not arranged in chronological order. The individual albums are all classics but they are very much self-contained units that make one associate a particular song with the album. Way To Blue thus lends a new angle in the mix of songs. Although 10 tracks are repeated from the 1985 Heaven In A Wild Flower, the sound quality is much better.
From the album Bryter Later come Hazey Jane I and II, Poor Boy, One Of These Things First and Northern Sky. Five Leaves Left contributes Cello Sing, Way To Blue, River Man and Time Has Told Me, whilst the stark minimalist album Pink Moon supplies Things Behind The Sun, Which Will and the title track. Black Eyed Dog and Time Of No reply come from the posthumous Time Of No Reply album.
On Sweet Old World Lucinda Williams beautifully covered Which Will and Swans made a bloodcurdling version of Black Eyed Dog, found on their Various Failures album. The group Drive covered his song Road on their early 90s album Out Freakage. The Dream Academy dedicated the song Life In A Northern Town (1985) to Nick Drake. His song Mayfair had already been covered by Millie (of My Boy Lollipop fame) in 1970.
My only complaint about Way To Blue is the omission of Fly, a song that first appeared on Bryter Later and was then included, in a different version, on Time Of No Reply. In my opinion, it is one of his most moving songs. Besides that, this compilation contains the best of Drake’s eerily compelling music but it is still worth it to investigate the original albums.
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on 21 September 2003
i'm gonna be honest with you,i don't own any nick drake albums as yet,why i bought this i don't know,i took a chance on someone i randomly picked out.and wow was i taken aback when i played this,every song shimmers with an undefinable brilliance,why this guy wasn't a huge success when he was living i don't know it just proves that talent and genius sometimes is not enough to guarantee success,i can't describe these songs to you ,but i challenge you not to be gobsmacked the first time you hear them,the melodies are so moving,the voice so quite yet so demands for you to listen,if there is a heaven i expect the music playing there is nick drakes,i've listened to these collection of songs so many times and i never tire of them,if i did'nt know i wouldn't believe the recordings are so old they sound so fresh and relevant personal favourite tracks are river man,cello song,one of these things first,northern sky,pink moon,and black eyed dog(the scariest song you'll ever hear)if your a music lover please,please buy this it'll change your life believe me.
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on 20 July 2013
Nick Drake in his short life only made 3 albums which were critically acclaimed but sold very few copies to the record buying public. His music was discovered after his sad death as more and more of us got tuned into his songs . I was spellbound when I first heard his cds and went out and bought the lot and have been playing them ever since and all the compilations and re-mastered versions .
Anyone out there not into Nick Drake try this one out its a good introduction for you , buy it play it enjoy it .
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on 8 January 2015
This is a brilliant introduction to Nick Drake's work and spans his (far too short) recording career. Impossible to categorize, these songs are timeless works of genius. Gentle, beautiful, uplifting and utterly indispensable.
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on 18 December 2003
This is a truly fantastic album. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and already have bought it for someone else. I found the style a little unusual to begin with but once I got used to that I could really start appreciating the album. Fruit Tree or Black Eye Dog are two examples where at first they take a few listens to and then there's so much to them.
I would strongly recommend this to anyone who likes this type of music. After Christmas if I haven't been bought anymore Nick Drake albums I will be buying them for myself :o)
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on 2 June 2015
I love his music... always have, always will
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on 16 June 2015
Superb CD
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on 7 June 2016
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on 2 August 2013
Its ok wouldnt rave about the cd but its my first listen, will give it a few more plays but i can normally tell if its a good one
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