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Digital Box Set

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iTunes Review

This box set includes Nick Drake's three studio albums (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon), as well as the posthumous Made to Love Magic and Family Tree collections. Simply put, Drake was the most accomplished singer/songwriter left to obscurity until musicians, critics, word-of-mouth, ambitious reissues, and an unlikely Volkswagen commercial led to his rediscovery decades after his 1974 death at age 26. Each of his proper albums expressed a distinct musical vision. Five Leaves Left was a somber, orchestrated wonder. Bryter Layter flirted with upbeat arrangements. Pink Moon was a solitary song cycle, featuring Drake alone on a guitar and piano. Home tapes and alternate takes yielded further insights into Drake's blues influences and his extraordinary and idiosyncratic fingerpicking style. The deep-rooted emotionalism of "Time Has Told Me," "Thoughts of Mary Jane," "Fly," "Northern Sky," "Clothes of Sand," "Joey," "Which Will," "Pink Moon," and countless others established him as a singer and songwriter working at a level of sophistication and beauty practically unrivaled. Nick Drake was a genius. This is the proof. 

Customer Reviews

Wonderful music, disappointing package

Nick Drake's melancholy, low-fi music is indisputedly great. There's a raw intimacy to these recordings that's hard to find and even harder to fake, and his discography has become highly sought in recent years.

Unfortunately in preparing this 'digital box set' for the market, Island records have failed to include a digital booklet, track notes, bio information, etc., or indeed any of the supplementary material that is key to enjoying a box set.

5 stars for the music, -2 for the thrown-together feel of this package. Until record companies make consistent use of the digital booklet/iTunes LP features, a digital box set will be no substitute for the real thing.

Tragic and Beautiful

A great look at one of the most introspective song writers ever. While lacking the obligatory liner notes that typically accompany a collection of this magnitude, what we are left with with are the songs that defined Nick Drake. While some of the more commercial tunes are of course included ("Pink Moon" & "From the Morning"), the remained of the collection offers listeners a thorough look at the career that was cut all too short by alcohol, depression, and drugs use. The clean, lo-fi recordings offer the essence of his music: beautiful guitar work, wonderful melodies, and soul searching lyrics. It might be suggested that those looking for a more concise introduction to Nick Drake purchase his most successful album (Pink Moon); however, those who are looking for a comprehensive collection will probably be satisfied with the depth and breadth of this set.

Classically Doomed

Nick Drake is in one aspect like Vincent Van Gogh - appreciated by a few, ignored by many - and many years later appreciated as a unique voice at the nexus of late 60's and early 70's contemporary folk in Great Britain. It is easy to cast him in the romantic role of tortured artist who prematurely dies (due to either accidental or on purpose overdose of antidepressants). His best music is moody and spare, with a unique guitar playing style and tuning.

This collection is even bigger than the 4 CD box set "Fruit Tree", which contained his three completed albums, and an additional CD of music which matches the quality of the other, commercially released material. Here we get that same content, and even more extras, alternate versions and songs covered by other artists. For the completists, this is likely a must-buy - but if you already have Fruit Tree you have the majority of his best material, plus some very nice packaging. At the end of the day - if you don't have Fruit Tree - this represents the best bargain in terms of getting all of his music in one place.


Born: June 19, 1948 in Rangoon, Burma

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s

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,...
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