Wednesday, November 21, 2012


YEAR:  1970
LABEL:  Island
TRACK LISTING:  Introduction,  Hazey Jane II,  At the Chime of the City Clock,  One of These Things First,  Hazey Jane I,  Bryter Later,  Fly,  Poor Boy,  Northern Sky,  Sunday
IMPRESSIONS:  Probably my least favourite Nick Drake album of the three; despite the fact that some of his best songs can be found here.  I think the major problem I have with the album is that Nick himself seems to be absent for about a quarter of it; we have here a few instrumental tracks which, sure, Nick plays guitar on and Nick wrote, but it's almost as if he's stepped out for a smoke.  And the fact that we have precious little Nick Drake on record, this is almost an unpardonable sin.  Then we have the often-touted complaint of the overly-sweet string arrangements by Robert Kirby which Nick himself seemed to dislike as he insisted on a stripped-down sound for his next album "PINK MOON".  I actually don't have much of a problem with these arrangements except in a few cases.  "Poor Boy" actually sounds like a decent song but when smothered in an inappropriate pop arrangement and back-up singers (including the wonderful Doris Troy), the effect is jarring compared to the rest of the album.  And back to those instrumentals.  The opening track "Introduction" is innocuous, I suppose, but the title track is pure rubbish; it sounds like it was lifted from a 60's comedy film.  So we have here a seriously flawed album -- and that's a big deal since we've only got three Nick Drake albums to listen to.  However, even a flawed Nick Drake album is something to be conjured with.  Here we find some of his greatest recordings:  the darkly jazzy "At the Chime of a City Clock", the beautiful rolling ramble of "One of These Things First", the sunny, drumming-tempo of Fairport Convention's rhythm section in  "Hazey Jane I", the drawing room miniature of "Fly" and the exquisitely joyful spring air chasing away the winter chill in "Northern Sky".  Q Magazine in 2007 declared the album as having "more hooks than a pirate convention".  So even Nick Drake's worst album is a stone classic.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  At the Chime of a City Clock,  One of These Things First,  Hazey Jane I,  Fly,  Northern Sky
GUEST ARTISTS:  Dave Pegg (bass guitar), Dave Mattacks (drums), Richard Thompson (lead guitar on "Hazey Jane II"), Doris Troy (backing vocals on "Poor Boy"), Ray Warleigh (alto saxophone on "At the Chime of a City Clock" and "Poor Boy", flute on "Sunday"), Mike Kowalski (drums on "At the Chime of a City Clock", "One of These Things First", "Poor Boy" and "Northern Sky"), Paul Harris (piano on "One of These Things First"), Ed Carter (bass on "One of These Things First"), Lyn Dobson (flute on "Bryter Later"), John Cale (viola and harpsichord on "Fly", celeste, piano and organ on "Northern Sky"), Pat Arnold (backing vocals on "Poor Boy"), Chris McGregor (piano on "Poor Boy"), Robert Kirby (arrangements)
FACT SHEET:  BRYTER LATER is Nick Drake's second album.  The album title is a reference to the common British weather report term for clearing weather as "brighter later".  The album features members of Fairport Convention's rhythm section Pegg and Mattacks (as well as Fairport's leader Richard Thompson), John Cale of The Velvet Underground, R&B singer Doris Troy and Beach Boys rhythm section Kowalski and Carter.  The album was produced by Joe Boyd and arranged by Robert Kirby.  The paradoxically dark iconic album cover to BRYTER LATER was designed and photographed by Nigel Waymouth.       

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