As Inside Llewyn Davis hits the theatres with the tale of an unappreciated, tender-souled folk sensation never to be given due credit in his creative heyday, it’s hard not to think of one Nicholas Rodney Drake. Universal have just released a tasty Tuck Box of Nick Drake re-releases and B-sides in the year which will see the 40th anniversary of his death. Enshrined as a shy, doleful faced 26 year old, it’s hard to imagine what a 66 year old Drake would have made of this revised critical reverence. Would his genius have been so pedalled by the music media without his untimely death? A question with no answer.
The Nick Drake Tuck Box includes Drake’s three releases, Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Later (1970) and Pink Moon (1972) as well a CD of out-takes, off cuts and cast-offs and, rather intriguingly, the last 5 songs Nick recorded for his proposed 4th album. The final disc to make up the Tuck Box is a collection of recordings made before the Island Records period, made up of spoken word pieces, demos and even two recordings by his mother Molly Drake. Put this together with all the movie syncs, books about his life, documentaries about his legacy, and you have a serious canonisation going on.
Is this some kind of collective attempt by the music media to cleanse themselves of the guilt of never recognised Drake in his time? Should we be forgiven for not giving him the time of day when he was active, creative and alive? Perhaps the tragedy of Nick Drake lies in the fact that his death was required to elevate his artistic credibility to the station he actually deserved.
Looking on the bryter side, at least he was finally credited for being the exquisite musician and artist he so evidently was. If you have never dived into the into the dark and terribly sad world of Nick Drake, this seems to be a near mandatory purchase. At the very least I would suggest purchasing Five Leaves Left – his beautifully orchestral/pastoral debut album – as well as the totally essential Pink Moon – the desperately sad eulogy, to his career and life, made all the more heartbreaking for the seemingly positive final track ‘From the Morning’.
Listen: Nick Drake – From the Morning