Nick Drake Discography

Nick Drake Discography

Nick Drake, Joe Boyd and John Wood decided to record Nick's first album on July, 1968. They started recording three songs, which was arranged by a well-known arranger, called Richard Hewson. But Nick didn't like the arragements and he was strong enough to say this, considering the fact that the arragements were ready and that a fifteen-piece orchestra was brought to the studio. Nick said he had a friend from Cambridge, Robert Kirby, who could do more appropriate arragements. But Robert had no experience on studio, so Joe and John were a bit sceptical, but decided to give him a try. Robert only used a six-piece orchestra and Danny Thompson on the bass to do the arragements and both Nick, Joe and John found it great. Robert Kirby did the arragements of four songs of Five Leaves Left but a fifth, "River Man", that also has strings, had its arragements composed by Harry Robinson because Robert didn't feel able to write an arragement for such a complex song. Some problems with the studio and the fact that Nick still was in Cambridge made the record sessions took almost one year to be finished. The album would be released in July, 1969, but for some unknown reasons it was released only in September 1st of the same year.
The title Five Leaves Left is taken from the old Rizla cigarette papers. When you're about to run out of papers you get notified that there is "only 5 leaves left". Many theories have been suggested about the meaning of the title. Some people believe that it was an omen, because five years after the album was released, Nick died. It also can be a reference to the end of autumm. But the most probable explanation is just that it was a kind of an inside joke. If you were a smoker you would recognize the words and also know what was often rolled up in the papers. It wasn't always ordinary tobacco.

At the end of 1969, when Nick left Cambridge, he went living in London, where he lived in a lot of places. During this period he started writing the songs for his next album. In the begining of 1970 he had already some songs ready and started rehearsing them with Fairport Convention members in a pub called The angel in the village of Little Hadham. A few time later the record sessions started at Sound Techniques, again with Joe Boyd and John Wood. Robert Kirby did all the brass and string arragements. Beyond Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson and Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention, american drummer Mike Kowalski, south-african pianist Chris McGregor and the ex-Velvet Underground John Cale, other musicians joined the record sessions. Bryter Layter took nine months to be finished and was released in November 1st, 1970. Satisfied with the final result, Joe told Nick that this would be the record that would bring recognition to him. However, it also didn't sell well and Nick started losing faith on the musical business and his own career. This may have been one factor to the depression that Nick was beginning to show signs of at this time. Nick didn't play any more gigs after this and in the beginning of 1971 he moved back to his parents in Tanworth-in-Arden. He grew more and more introspective and he had a bad year before he would make his third record. Right after Bryter Layter was finished Nick had told Joe Boyd that the next album was going to be much simpler: "Just me and the guitar".
The title Bryter Layter was a pun on the BBC weather forecast at the time, where it would become "brighter later". It also can mean that things are bad now, but everything will be allright later. Bryter Layter is still one of Joe Boyd's favourite albums that he's ever produced: "It's one of the few albums I can put on and think I wouldn't change a thing about it".

After Bryter Layter Nick grew more introspective and 1971 was a year of depression. His parents got worried for him and made him go to see a psychiatrist. It didn't help very much but he was prescribed anti-depressant medicine. During some weeks in the later half of 1971 Island Records' boss Chris Blackwell made an attempt to make Nick feel better, by lending him his villa in Algericas, Spain. It actually seemed to help, because on his return, Nick had got new plans on recording again. In late 1971 he called John Wood and told him he wanted to record. The sessions were held at Sound Techniques and done over just two nights, a huge contrast to Nick's earlier recordings. Since Joe Boyd had moved to Los Angeles by this time, he wasn't there to produce the album, but that was also how Nick wanted it. He wanted the album to be simple and stark: "No frills", as he expressed it. John Wood: "He arrived at midnight and we started. It was done very quickly. After we had finished I asked him what I should keep, and he said all of it, which was a complete contrast to his former stance. He came in for another evening and that was it. It took hardly any time to mix since it was only his song and guitar, with one overdub only". When they were finished John told Nick to go to Island Records' office and leave the master tapes, and so he did. David Sandison, then press officer at Island, remembers him showing up with a package under his arm. Nick followed David up to his office, sat for about half an hour in silence, and then said "I'd better be going". He left, still carrying the tapes, and maybe an hour later the girl from the reception came up with the tapes, and it was evidently the new album, Pink Moon.

It's not known for sure the source of the title Pink Moon. It's the name of a song (used in a Volkwagen's ad in 1999) and can be a reference to death (I saw it written.../...Pink moon gonna get you all) or an hallucination caused by drugs use. Some people say it's a sign of the schizophrenia he may had, but it looks it's just a metaphor no one will know for sure what it means.

In 1979 Nick's three albuns were re-released in a box called "Fruit Tree", which also has a book with a small biography about him.
In 1985 Joe Boyd found on the Island Records' archive some old tapes with songs he had forgot Nick had recorded. This songs were released in 1986 in a album called "Time Of No Reply", which has different versions of known songs, like Fly, for example, which appears only with the guitar. It also has the four tracks Nick recorded in 1974. "Been Smoking Too Long" was written by the american singer/songwriter Robin Frederik, who met Nick in France in 1966. Only 25 years later she knew he had recorded this songs she had completely forgotten. After its release, "Time Of No Reply" was included on "Fruit Tree" box set. There's also a compilation called "Way To Blue" and two bootlegs: "Tanworth-In- Arden", which has three unreleased songs and lots of covers and "The Complete Home Recordings", which has one unreleased song, two known songs in different versions, an interview with John Martyn and Nick's famous "monologue".

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