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Time Has Told Me. Nick Drake. Nick Drake is finally famous, but it took the record industry 40 years to figure out how to make it happen.
It's worth revisiting this dubious history while considering Tuck Box, the latest and possibly final repackaging. What Tuck Box offers, then, is simply another chance to revisit Nick Drake's short, sad story.
Because Drake died in desolation and obscurity, and because his music grows more influential every year, there will never quite be a bad moment to rediscover him.
His three studio albums have settled into cultural totems, albums that anyone hoping to know something about rock history buys sooner or later. Even odd years later, their thumbprint remains unique, a strange and compelling mix of timeless poetic melancholy on the one hand, and cloistered, pampered schoolboy modernity on the other.
They sit completely to the left of all rock music, which Drake could care less about; his version of a garage band was a group of boys at his boarding school, one of whom was the grand-nephew of John Maynard Keynes.
Their name was the Perfumed Gardeners. It was Hutchings who had enthusiastically approached Drake in local pub The Roundhouse, offering to pass his information along to the legendary manager Joe Boyd.
Drake's entrance into the business, at least, was effortless and auspicious, and he was joined in the Sound Techniques recording studio by a few of his personal heroes. The warm, rounded upright bass playing is from Danny Thompson, a founding member of the Pentangle. Richard Thompson plays the pearly guitar leads.
Even as a year-old, Drake's vision for his music was strikingly assured. He was nervous, fumbling, and difficult to engage in conversation in the studio, but he knew what he wanted. But profundity glowed from his music. This approach extends to his guitar playing, which was so obsessively perfect it almost escapes comprehension.
You will never hear a single string buzz. It's not the sort of virtuosity that quiets a chattering crowd, but once you've attuned to the absolute silence, it quickly grows otherworldly. Even on densely packed fingerpicking runs like "Day Is Done", each note sits in the mix like a stone at the floor of a clear pond. He was a frighteningly flawless player, in a way that served to magnify his incorporeality: There is no surviving video of Nick Drake playing live or talking.
He died in , but his physicality is as remote to our modern imagination as Gustav Mahler's. His concerns were similarly otherworldly and timeless, informed by a childhood of English Romantic poets. The futility of knowing the mind of another was a persistent theme in his lyrics, which looked right past people to stars, trees, eternity. Sizing up the enormity of this task, examining how it might be accomplished—these were not really his philosophical concerns.
When it was released in the fall of , Five Leaves Left went unnoticed. Island Records had done it no favors. But Drake was also complicit; he began his first ill-fated tour behind the faltering album, and between songs, he would tune his guitar for minutes on end to stony, uncomfortable silence.
He often walked off dejected before finishing his set. He disappeared into dope smoke, a predilection that was slowly hardening into a crutch. He blew off radio sessions and interviews and slowly began retreating into himself. His voice reminds me very much of Peter Sarstedt , but his songs lack Sarstedt's penetration and arresting quality. Until the s Drake's albums had been critically and popularly ignored. The release of the remastered version in resulted in positive retrospective reviews from the UK music magazines.
John Harris wrote in Q that "the record's abiding impression" was of "a hesitant, slightly troubled soul peering at the straight world and wondering what will become of both him and the people he beholds". This aside, the album remains singular — cool and shady amid the celebratory sunshine of the late Sixties. An earlier review in Q cited it as "The pinnacle of a melancholy canon of work so distinctive that admirers can only speculate miserably on what might have been.
Five Leaves Left has regularly appeared on lists of the best albums of all time. Nick Drake performs vocals and acoustic guitar , except where indicated otherwise. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Nick Drake. Time Inc. Retrieved 20 August Electronic Musician. BBC News. Retrieved 2 October Retrieved 27 January Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5th concise ed. Omnibus Press.