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Made to Love Magic

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Nick Drake’s short tragic life — dead in 1974 at 26 with three mostly ignored albums — is perfect fodder for folk legend. The inclusion of his song “Pink Moon” in a car commercial at the turn of the century created a new stir for a singer-songwriter whose cult status had been gradually rising. This surge in interest sent his record label and collaborators into the tape vaults to search for any scrap of unreleased material near releasable form. “Tow the Line” was the lone unreleased gem, a barebones acoustic lament similar in tone to the Pink Moonalbum and the four subsequent recordings that were originally issued on the posthumous collection Time of No Reply and come re-mastered here. (Adding to the confusion, “Hanging On A Star” is a different take). In addition, there’s an acoustic version of “River Man” that appeared in orchestrated form on Drake’s debut album, Five Leaves Left, as well as an earlier take of “Three Hours” and controversially, Drake’s original orchestral scorer, Robert Kirby, adds his original score to “Time of No Reply” and the title track. Incredulously, Drake never cut a track not worth hearing. Completists will need this. The newbie will find much to enjoy and hopefully seek out the rest of the catalog.

Customer Reviews

Essential addition to your Nick Drake collection

As "odds and ends" collections go, this one is essential. Not only because Nick Drake released only three albums in his lifetime, but because the music within stands up to the quality of material you'll find on his others works. While this collection contains much from the now-out-of-print Time of No Reply collection, Magic, River Man, Mayfair, Three Hours, Time of No Reply, and Tow the Line are either new to this disc or the recordings are different. The new recordings of Robert Kirby's original arrangements make for interesting additions to Magic and Time of No Reply. This works best for Magic, whose arrangement from the 1960s session with Richard Hewson just didn't fit the song. The arrangement for Time of No Reply, however, doesn't seem necessary (even if that's how the song was originally envisioned by Nick). The simple vocal and guitar version is still best...which can still be found on the Way to Blue compilation CD. During the compilation of this CD, it was discovered that Nick had planned a fourth album in 1974 and that five of the tracks here were to make up Side 1 of that album: Rider on the Wheel, Hanging on a Star, Voices, Black Eyed Dog, and Tow the Line. So you essentially have Side 1 of Nick's last album here intact. Unfortunately, he never got around to recording Side 2.

Not Enough Worthy Material

It's false to claim, as said in the editor's notes, that "Drake never cut a track not worth hearing", and this slapdash collection is proof of that. Whether you're a long-time fan, as I am, or a mindless "completist," too much of the material on here is inferior and unworthy of being released. It does a disservice to Drake's legacy and the recordings he sanctioned to put out so many weak tracks, when the superior but apparently now lost Time of No Reply collection had better versions of some of the same songs. There are some modestly listenable tracks here, versions of Joey and Hanging on a Star among them, but too many sound like poor outtakes of Nick Drake in a sleepy or uninspired moment or simply testing something that would become much better later on. The pretentious orchestral tsunami drowns out much of his voice in Time of No Reply, which is insulting, and tracks like Magic and Rider on the Wheel are just sadly lacking by Drake's high standards. I fault the family (caring, perhaps, but misguided) and record hustlers for throwing this together as if it filled a great hunger. I'm more than satisfied with his official three releases and the handful of others that surfaced long ago as well worth hearing--better versions of Time, Joey, Mary Jane and a couple of others. I recommend all listeners, new or of long-standing, relish the greatness on those vastly superior records. This one dishonors his memory and his canon.

This album...

Is awesome! If you liked his Pink Moon album, you'll also enjoy this one. The songs are mainly Nick's voice and his acoustic guitar with the exception of "Magic," and a couple others which include other instruments. If you like the songs "From The Morning," "Which Will," and "Pink Moon," you will also love: Rider on the Wheel, Hanging on a Star, Black Eyed Dog, Time of No Reply, and Joey. These songs are simply incredible. Its a sad shame he never finished his fourth album.


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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