Artist - Album: Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left
Released: 1st September 1969
Sounds like: living on Solid Air
Nick Drake is music's best answer to the neglected artist, ignored and unappreciated in his lifetime but declared a genius posthumously. Despite the fact that his three full albums are now each considered to be masterpieces, they would have been considered flops in their day had anyone even noticed they'd come out. The complete lack of success and his battles with mental illness marks him out as a kind of Van Gogh-lite, although admittedly his influence doesn't quite extend as far as the earless Dutchman's.
Five Leaves Left was his first album, and back then Drake wasn't beset by the depression brought about by his failure to sell any records. The music is pastoral and moody, but never maudlin and melancholy, nor as lonely, as with his later work. The English graduate plays with autumnal imagery and has a wistful tinge, but there's no sign of the hounded tone his later songs possessed.
The cult of Drake have placed the man on a pedestal alongside the great English poets, his heroes Blake and Yeats. This may be over-egging it a bit but tracks such as 'The Thoughts of Mary Jane', 'Fruit Tree' and 'Day is Done' have an equally distinctive Englishnessicity. Drake also liked to experiment with tunings on his expertly plucked guitar and the creativity didn't stop there - 'Cello Song', 'River Man' and 'Way to Blue' are unique compositions, nominally folk but really some baroque form of original thinking that we've yet to name. We haven't had to; nobody since has made music like this.
Albumaday... rating: 8/10
1. Time Has Told Me – 4:27
2. River Man – 4:21
3. Three Hours – 6:16
4. Way to Blue – 3:11
5. Day Is Done – 2:29
6. Cello Song – 4:49
7. The Thoughts of Mary Jane – 3:22
8. Man in a Shed – 3:55
9. Fruit Tree – 4:50
10. Saturday Sun – 4:03