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Nick Drake|Five Leaves Left

Five Leaves Left

Nick Drake

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It's little wonder why Drake felt frustrated at the lack of commercial success his music initially gathered, considering the help he had on his debut record. Besides fine production from Joe Boyd and assistance from folks like Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson and his unrelated bass counterpart from Pentangle, Danny Thompson, Drake also recruited school friend Robert Kirby to create most of the just-right string and wind arrangements. His own performance itself steered a careful balance between too-easy accessibility and maudlin self-reflection, combining the best of both worlds while avoiding the pitfalls on either side. The result was a fantastic debut appearance, and if the cult of Drake consistently reads more into his work than is perhaps deserved, Five Leaves Left is still a most successful effort. Having grown out of the amiable but derivative styles captured on the long-circulating series of bootleg home recordings, Drake imbues his tunes with just enough drama -- world-weariness in the vocals, carefully paced playing, and more -- to make it all work. His lyrics capture a subtle poetry of emotion, as on the pastoral semi-fantasia of "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," which his soft, articulate singing brings even more to the full. Sometimes he projects a little more clearly, as on the astonishing voice-and-strings combination "Way to Blue," while elsewhere he's not so clear, suggesting rather than outlining the mood. Understatement is the key to his songs and performances' general success, which makes the combination of his vocals and Rocky Dzidzornu's congas on "Three Hours" and the lovely "'Cello Song," to name two instances, so effective. Danny Thompson is the most regular side performer on the album, his bass work providing subtle heft while never standing in the way of the song -- kudos well deserved for Boyd's production as well.
© Ned Raggett /TiVo

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Five Leaves Left

Nick Drake

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1
Time Has Told Me
00:04:24

Danny Thompson, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Harris, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Boyd, Producer - Richard Thompson, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

2
River Man
00:04:18

Joe Boyd, Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Harry Robinson, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

3
Three Hours
00:06:12

Danny Thompson, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Boyd, Producer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Kwasi "Rocki" Dzidzornu, Conga, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

4
Way To Blue
00:03:08

Joe Boyd, Producer - Robert Kirby, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

5
Day Is Done
00:02:25

Joe Boyd, Producer - Robert Kirby, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records Ltd.

6
' Cello Song
00:04:44

Danny Thompson, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Boyd, Producer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Kwasi "Rocki" Dzidzornu, Conga, AssociatedPerformer - Clare Deniz, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

7
The Thoughts Of Mary Jane
00:03:18

Joe Boyd, Producer - Robert Kirby, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

8
Man In A Shed
00:03:51

Danny Thompson, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Harris, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Boyd, Producer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

9
Fruit Tree
00:04:45

Joe Boyd, Producer - Robert Kirby, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

10
Saturday Sun
00:04:02

Danny Thompson, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Boyd, Producer - John Wood, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nick Drake, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Tristan Fry, Drums, Vibraphone, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1969 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

Album Description

It's little wonder why Drake felt frustrated at the lack of commercial success his music initially gathered, considering the help he had on his debut record. Besides fine production from Joe Boyd and assistance from folks like Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson and his unrelated bass counterpart from Pentangle, Danny Thompson, Drake also recruited school friend Robert Kirby to create most of the just-right string and wind arrangements. His own performance itself steered a careful balance between too-easy accessibility and maudlin self-reflection, combining the best of both worlds while avoiding the pitfalls on either side. The result was a fantastic debut appearance, and if the cult of Drake consistently reads more into his work than is perhaps deserved, Five Leaves Left is still a most successful effort. Having grown out of the amiable but derivative styles captured on the long-circulating series of bootleg home recordings, Drake imbues his tunes with just enough drama -- world-weariness in the vocals, carefully paced playing, and more -- to make it all work. His lyrics capture a subtle poetry of emotion, as on the pastoral semi-fantasia of "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," which his soft, articulate singing brings even more to the full. Sometimes he projects a little more clearly, as on the astonishing voice-and-strings combination "Way to Blue," while elsewhere he's not so clear, suggesting rather than outlining the mood. Understatement is the key to his songs and performances' general success, which makes the combination of his vocals and Rocky Dzidzornu's congas on "Three Hours" and the lovely "'Cello Song," to name two instances, so effective. Danny Thompson is the most regular side performer on the album, his bass work providing subtle heft while never standing in the way of the song -- kudos well deserved for Boyd's production as well.
© Ned Raggett /TiVo

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