Tuesday, September 13, 2011


YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Island

TRACK LISTING: Time Has Told Me, River Man, Three Hours, Way To Blue, Day Is Done, Cello Song, The Thoughts of Mary Jane, Man in a Shed, Fruit Tree, Saturday Sun

IMPRESSIONS: If he had only known. Nick Drake's sublime music would only strike a chord a quarter century after his death. All his musical hopes and dreams were wrapped up in this first album which sold practically nothing. What should have been the start of a wonderful career actually marked the beginning of the end of Nick Drake. The title "FIVE LEAVES LEFT" is tragically ironic since Nick would only live 5 years after the release of this album. Many grumble about the "syrupy" strings imposed on the album and, while I could do without them in most cases, they don't bother me or marr the album in the slightest. FIVE LEAVES LEFT after all includes some of Drake's greatest songs including "River Man", "Three Hours" and my all-time favourite "Fruit Tree".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Time Has Told Me, River Man, Three Hours, Way To Blue, Day Is Done, Cello Song, Fruit Tree

GUEST ARTISTS: Richard Thompson (electric guitar), Robert Kirby (string arrangements), Clare Lowther (cello), Rocky Dzidzornu (congas)
FACT SHEET: FIVE LEAVES LEFT is Nick Drake's first album. It was recorded while Drake was still attending Cambridge University. Aside from the string arrangements by Robert Kirby, Drake is also accompanied by members of Fairport Convention and Pentangle. The album title is a reference to Rizla cigarette papers; a printed paper near the end of the packet would read "Only five leaves left" warning you to buy a new packet soon. Nick Drake's sister is the actress Gabrielle Drake whom I was watching decades before I ever heard of Nick Drake in her role as comedian Kelly Monteith's wife in his late-70s British comedy series. In 1968, an unknown singer named Elton John recorded a series of demos pursuant to recording his first album; these demos shockingly include several Nick Drake songs from "FIVE LEAVES LEFT".

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