|Nick Drake — Pink Moon [Original recording remastered] (2012)|
Nick Drake — Pink Moon [Original recording remastered]
Birth name: Nicholas Rodney Drake
Born: June 19, 1948 in Rangoon, Burma
Died: November 25, 1974 in Tanworth-in-Arden, England
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, piano, clarinet, saxophone
Album release: February 25, 1972 / December 4, 2012
Recorded: October 1971 (1971-10) at Sound Techniques in London, UK
Record Label: Island Records / Ingrooves (2012)
01. "Pink Moon" 2:04
02. "Place to Be" 2:43
03. "Road" 1:59
04. "Which Will" 2:56
05. "Horn" 1:22
06. "Things Behind the Sun" 3:55
07. "Know" 2:23
08. "Parasite" 3:34
09. "Free Ride" 3:03
10. "Harvest Breed" 1:35
11. "From the Morning" 2:30
¶ All songs written and composed by Nick Drake.
• Joe Boyd Re-Release Producer
• Cally Art Direction, Coordination, Design
• Nick Drake Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Piano, Vocals
• Simon Heywood Mastering
• Stella MacPherson Lyric Transcription
• Keith Morris Photography
• Michael Trevithick Cover Art
• Witchseason Productions Ltd. Producer
• John Wood Engineer, Producer, Remastering, Supervisor
Fan page: http://www.nickdrake.com/index.html
Reception and influence:
¶ Entertainment Weekly (12 May 2000, p. 24) - "One voice, one guitar, one set of beautifully dolorous songs...the equivalent of an amble down a darkened country road. Model after-hours listening." - Rating: A
¶ Q magazine (August 2000, pp. 112–3) - 5 stars out of 5 - "Nick Drake's best album....[Its] excellence shines through....Few records have ever sounded so intimate, or embodied Melancholy with such grace and assurance."
¶ Alternative Press (March 2001, p. 88) - "With a voice paradoxically feather-light and grave, [one] of the most beautiful and melancholy albums ever recorded."
¶ Mojo (July 2000, p. 99) - "His masterpiece and the Robert Johnson comparisons are fully deserved."
¶ Pink Moon is the sound of Nick Drake cracking up. That's not exactly true--some have long thought that his death by an overdose of an anti-depressant was an accident, and not suicide--but this album, recorded over two late nights, certainly sounds like a fever dream. Peter Buck of R.E.M. has called the album "Like an English version of (Robert Johnson's great blues) `Hellhound on My Trail.'" The lyrics to the title song read in their entirety: "Saw it written and I saw it say, pink moon is on its way. None of you will stand so tall, pink moon is gonna get ye all. And it's a pink moon." Aside from a splash of piano, the only instrumentation on this stark and spooky collection is Drake's eloquent acoustic guitar. --John Milward
¶ 2012 deluxe edition. Features: Audiophile virgin vinyl, Gatefold sleeve, inner sleeve, paper labels, Original promotional shop-poster, Facsimile of Nick's handwritten lyrics to four of the songs, Box showing the original master tape box from which the vinyl was mastered, Digital download card, Original Engineer/Producer John Wood, Mastered from original 40 year old analogue mastertapes, Best quality to beat the bootlegs. Universal. 2012.
Review by Ned Raggett
¶ After two albums of tastefully orchestrated folk- pop, albeit some of the least demonstrative and most affecting around, Nick Drake chose a radical change for what turned out to be his final album.
¶ Not even half-an-hour long, with 11 short songs and no more — he famously remarked at the time that he simply had no more to record — Pink Moon more than anything else is the record that made Drake the cult figure he remains. Specifically, Pink Moon is the bleakest of them all; that the likes of Belle and Sebastian are fans of Drake may be clear enough, but it’s doubtful they could ever achieve the calm, focused anguish of this album, as harrowing as it is attractive. No side musicians or outside performers help this time around — it’s simply Drake and Drake alone on vocals, acoustic guitar, and a bit of piano, recorded by regular producer Joe Boyd but otherwise untouched by anyone else. The lead-off title track was eventually used in a Volkswagen commercial nearly 30 years later, giving him another renewed burst of appreciation — one of life’s many ironies, in that such an affecting song, Drake’s softly keened singing and gentle strumming, could turn up in such a strange context. The remainder of the album follows the same general path, with Drake’s elegant melancholia avoiding sounding pretentious in the least thanks to his continued embrace of simple, tender vocalizing. Meanwhile, the sheer majesty of his guitar playing — consider the opening notes of “Road” or “Parasite” — makes for a breathless wonder to behold.
¶ Mastered from original 40 year old analogue mastertapes.
Biography by Richie Unterberger
¶ A singular talent who passed almost unnoticed during his brief lifetime, Nick Drake produced several albums of chilling, somber beauty. With hindsight, these have come to be recognized as peak achievements of both the British folk-rock scene and the entire rock singer/songwriter genre. Sometimes compared to Van Morrison, Drake in fact resembled Donovan much more in his breathy vocals, strong melodies, and the acoustic-based orchestral sweep of his arrangements. His was a much darker vision than Donovan's, however, with disturbing themes of melancholy, failed romance, mortality, and depression lurking just beneath, or even well above, the surface. Ironically, Drake has achieved a far greater stature in the decades following his death, with an avid cult following that grows by the year.
¶ Part of Drake's failure to attract a mass audience was attributable to his almost pathological reluctance to perform live. It was at a live show in Cambridge, however, that a member of Fairport Convention saw Drake perform, and recommended the singer to producer Joe Boyd. Boyd, already a linchpin of the British folk-rock scene as the producer for Fairport and the Incredible String Band, asked Drake for a tape, and was impressed enough to give the 20-year-old a contract in 1968.
¶ Drake's debut, Five Leaves Left (1969), was the first in a series of three equally impressive, and quite disparate, albums. With understated folk-rock backing (Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson plays bass on most of the cuts), Drake created a vaguely mysterious, haunting atmosphere, occasionally embellished by tasteful Baroque strings. ¶ His economic, even pithy, lyrics hinted at melancholy, yet any thoughts of despair were alleviated by the gorgeous, uplifting melodies and Drake's calm, measured vocals. ¶ Bryter Later (1970) was perhaps his most upbeat effort, featuring support from members of Fairport Convention, and traces of jazz in the arrangements. On some cuts, the singer/songwriter, remarkably, dispensed with lyrics altogether, offering only gorgeous, orchestrated instrumental miniatures that stood well on their own.
¶ Neither album sold well, and Drake, already a brooding loner, plunged into serious depression that often found him unable to make music, work, or even walk and talk. He managed to produce one final full-length work, Pink Moon (1972), a desolate solo acoustic album that ranks as one of the most naked and bleak statements in all of rock. ¶ He did record a few more songs before his death, but no more albums were completed, although the final sessions (along with some other fine unreleased material) surfaced on the posthumous compilation Time of No Reply.
¶ Drake's final couple of years were marked by increasing psychiatric difficulties, which found him hospitalized at one point for several weeks. He had rarely played live during his days as a recording artist, and at one point declared his intention never to record again, although he wished to continue to write songs for others. (It's been reported that French chanteuse Françoise Hardy recorded some of Drake's songs, but she hasn't released any.) On November 26, 1974, he died in his parents' home from an overdose of antidepressant medication; suicide has been speculated, although some of his family and friends dispute this.
¶ In the manner of the young Romantic poets of the 19th century who died before their time, Drake is revered by many listeners today, with a following that spans generations. Baby boomers who missed him the first time around found much to revisit once they discovered him, and his pensive loneliness speaks directly to contemporary alternative rockers who share his sense of morose alienation.
¶ Island Records was keen that Drake promote Bryter Layter through press interviews, radio sessions and live appearances. Drake, who was by this time smoking what Kirby has described as "unbelievable amounts" of marijuana and exhibiting "the first signs of psychosis", refused. By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London. Disappointed by the reaction to Bryter Layter, he turned his thoughts inwards, and withdrew from family and friends. He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs. "This was a very bad time", his sister Gabrielle Drake recalled, "He once said to me that everything started to go wrong from [this] time on, and I think that was when things started to go wrong."
¶ Although Island neither expected nor wanted a third album, Drake approached Wood in October 1971 to begin work on what would be his final release. The sessions took place over two nights, with only Drake and Wood present in the studio. The bleak songs of Pink Moon are short, and the eleven-track album lasts only 28 minutes, a length described by Wood as "just about right. You really wouldn't want it to be any longer." Drake had expressed dissatisfaction with the sound of Bryter Layter, and believed that the string, brass and saxophone arrangements had resulted in a sound that was "too full, too elaborate". Drake appears on Pink Moon accompanied only by his own carefully recorded guitar save for a single piano overdub on the title track. "He was very determined to make this very stark, bare record," Wood later recalled. "He definitely wanted it to be him more than anything. And I think, in some ways, Pink Moon is probably more like Nick is than the other two records."
¶ Drake delivered the tapes of Pink Moon to Chris Blackwell at Island Records, contrary to a popular legend which claims he dropped them off at the receptionist's desk without saying a word. An advertisement for the album placed in Melody Maker in February opened with "Pink Moon—Nick Drake's latest album: the first we heard of it was when it was finished." Pink Moon went on to sell fewer copies than either of its predecessors, although it did receive some favourable reviews. In Zigzag magazine, Connor McKnight wrote, "Nick Drake is an artist who never fakes. The album makes no concession to the theory that music should be escapist. It's simply one musician's view of life at the time, and you can't ask for more than that."
¶ Blackwell felt Pink Moon had the potential to bring Drake to a mainstream audience; however, his staff were disappointed by the artist's unwillingness to undertake any promotional activity. A&R manager Muff Winwood recalls "tearing his hair out" in frustration, and admits that without Blackwell's enthusiastic support, "the rest of us would have given him the boot." However, following persistent nagging from Boyd, Drake agreed to an interview with Jerry Gilbert of Sounds Magazine. The "shy and introverted folk singer" spoke of his dislike of live appearances and very little else. "There wasn't any connection whatsoever", Gilbert has said. "I don't think he made eye contact with me once." Disheartened and convinced he would be unable to write again, Drake decided to retire from music. He toyed with the idea of a different career, even considering the Army.
Musical and lyrical style:
¶ Drake was obsessive about practising his guitar technique, and would often stay up through the night experimenting with tunings and working on songs. His mother remembered hearing him "bumping around at all hours. I think he wrote his nicest melodies in the early-morning hours." Self-taught, he achieved his guitar style through the use of alternative tunings to create cluster chords. These are difficult to achieve on a guitar using standard tuning; Drake used tunings which made cluster chords available using more conventional chord shapes. In many songs he accents the dissonant effect of such non-standard tunings through his vocal melodies.
¶ Drake studied English literature in Cambridge and was particularly drawn to the works of William Blake, William Butler Yeats and Henry Vaughan, and his lyrics reflect such influences. Drake also employs a series of elemental symbols and codes, largely drawn from nature. The moon, stars, sea, rain, trees, sky, mist and seasons are all commonly used, influenced in part by his rural upbringing. Images related to summer figure centrally in his early work; from Bryter Layter on, his language is more autumnal, evoking a season commonly used to convey senses of loss and sorrow. Throughout, Drake writes with detachment, more as an observer than participant, a point of view Rolling Stone's Anthony DeCurtis described "as if he were viewing his life from a great, unbridgeable distance." This perceived inability to connect has led to much speculation about Drake's sexuality. Boyd has said he detects a virginal quality in his lyrics and music, and notes that he never observed or heard of the singer behaving in a sexual way with anyone, male or female. Kirby described Drake's lyrics as a "series of extremely vivid, complete observations, almost like a series of epigrammatic proverbs", though he doubts that Drake saw himself as "any sort of poet". Instead he believes that Drake's lyrics were crafted to "complement and compound a mood that the melody dictates in the first place."
|Nick Drake — Pink Moon [Original recording remastered] (2012)|