Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake (1969)

Album no. 150/1001

Nick Drake was an English diamond in the rough who found little success while he was alive, but went on to become a cult folk hero in the years since his incredibly early death in 1974 – he was only 26(!!!).

This is his first album – written when he was only 20 years old (my god) – and he recruited a few folk mates from other English bands Pentangle and Fairport Convention.

He’s certainly a fan of the acoustic guitar, and had a pretty significant influence on the folk scene in the nineties when everybody realised he was actually pretty bloody good, and got a rough deal when he was alive.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR AGES TO GET TO SOME NICK DRAKE AND I AM SO EXCITED. But no, I haven’t heard this particular album from my friend Nick, so I’m very much looking forward to it.

NK: I’ve never really heard much Nick Drake. I’ve heard ‘Which Will’ because I heard a comedian talking about it, but that’s about it.

Standout track

CL: Hey! I’ve heard ‘Cello Song’ before! LOVE IT – excellent guitar work. I liked almost all of the songs on this. ‘River Man’ is just wonderful as well. Those strings could EASILY appear on a Radiohead song.

NK: I think you’re right, ‘Cello Song’ is the standout here. It’s really good. Would have been fine without the bongos, but it’s still a cracking track.

CL: I also reeeeeally like the opener ‘Time Has Told Me’ and ‘Three Decades’ AND ‘Man In A Shed’. All EXCELLENT.

NK: I didn’t go for ‘Time Has Told Me’, the country guitar put me off a bit. And I didn’t like ‘River Man’ much, but apart from that this was pretty consistent.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: Considering I’ve heard his last (and arguably best) album Pink Moon – which we’ll get to in just 23 short weeks! – this is REMARKABLY upbeat in comparison. It’s a good early-morning album, when you don’t want to hurt your head.

NK: I can see a lot of these songs over the movie montage when somebody is recovering from a breakup. Struggling to get out of bed, not doing the dishes, falling behind at work, but gradually getting better, cleaning the house, getting a haircut, going out with friends etc. Quite a re-buildy vibe.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: It’s simple but so complex. The guitar is AMAZING. It’s raw as well – there’s no sheen to it. His voice isn’t anything special either, but gosh it’s emotive. A lot of people compared Nick Drake to Tim Buckley, but I don’t think they’re similar AT ALL.

NK: I can hear why people would say that. ‘The Thoughts of Mary Jane’ (drug reference?) with the bloody flute took me back to some of the forest enthusiasts. This is a bit more focused and restrained, less nonsense going on. No songs about minotaurs for example, can’t knock him for that.

CL: My gosh, Jose Gonzalez certainly took a lot of inspiration from our friend Nick Drake didn’t he? Nothing wrong with that of course, it’s just VERY, very obvious.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Yes. yes yes yes. I really enjoyed this. I wouldn’t say it’s AMAZING – just because of some of the (in my opinion) superfluous orchestral inclusions – but it’s still really good.

NK: Maybe? I didn’t mind it, but he’s got a couple more coming up. I might hang out and wait for those.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Five Leaves Left on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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