Family Tree (Previously Unreleased Home Demos) Best of
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See all 28 tracks on this disc
2007 rarities collection from one of the most influential UK Folk artists of all time. Family Tree tells the story of Nick Drake's musical development in the years prior to his debut album Five Leaves Left in 1969. It features lo-fi recordings made on a reel-to-reel tape recorder at his home, Far Leys in Tanworth In Arden, as well as eight songs recorded on cassette during his sojourn in Aix En Provence. The inclusion of two songs by his mother Molly Drake bears testament to her influence on her son. His final performances on Family Tree, 'Day Is Done' and 'Way To Blue', recorded by his Cambridge friend and arranger Robert Kirby are the end of one story and the beginning of another. Family Tree comprises mostly other people's compositions: the Folk and Blues tunes used by many a young guitarist in the '60s, attempting to master the fretboard. Nick played Jackson C. Frank, Bert Jansch, Dave Van Ronk and, of course, Bob Dylan. Booklet printed on 'bible ' paper for initial pressings only! 28 tracks. Island.
You'd think there wouldn't be much more to present by a songwriter who recorded three albums in his lifetime and has been dead since 1974. However, interest in Nick Drake's riveting music has grown enormously in the new millennium. Rarities were added to a number of posthumous collections, but with Family Tree his estate has brought forth an hour of music that predates his first album, Five Leaves Left. This set illuminates Drake's musical background, with his mother and sister appearing, and even Drake himself on clarinet for a Mozart trio. He covers traditional numbers as well as songs by Dylan, Blind Boy Fuller, and Jackson C. Frank. There are clear links to his own early compositions, including a couple early versions that appeared on his debut. Some of this has circulated on bootlegs over the years, but here assembled and sonically polished, it radiates with warmth. Recorded in casual circumstances, there are bits of chatter and laughter between songs, painting a picture of a happy, loving home scene. --David Greenberger
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One of the most prized recordings in my collection has long been the Nick Drake bootleg, Tamworth-In-Arden 1967/68. I usually avoid buying boots, but couldn't resist the plethora of completely unheard/unreleased songs. Now, most of that material has been lovingly compiled (with a few surprises, as well as omissions) & cleaned up considerably in terms of the sound quality. Half of the songs are written by Drake & half are rather obscure covers, including 3 songs by the legendary Jackson C. Frank. Fans of Drake will hardly be disappointed.
Among the self-penned selections, the real highlights are the haunting "Leaving Me Behind" and "Come Into The Garden". "Rain" and "Bird Flew By" reveal a talent that is nearly fully formed. "Strange Meeting II" & "Been Smoking Too Long" were included on the Fruit Tree box set appendix, Time Of No Reply. Both are welcome here. (According to the liner notes that collection is soon to be re-released).
More than likely, fans will not be as thrilled with the two songs, written & sung by Nick's mother, Molly. But to be frank, I like them both even if they are a bit jarring amidst the rest of the set. Its nice to hear where Nick got some of his talent from.
Lovingly compiled & with copious liner notes (Nick's sister, Gabrielle's are quite moving) this is certainly worth the price of admission for longtime & new found fans of this brilliant and truely unique artist.
Drake plays with traditional folk songs, Dylan compositions, and American-folk blues and traditional songs. The result is surprisingly satisfying. Even though it's informal, his breath control and flawless guitar chords are at peak performance. And this is EARLY Nick Drake. If you thought `Pink Moon' was lo-fi, then you haven't heard this cd! There's a small degree of audible tape hiss (again, this was made in the 60's), but it has an amazingly clean sound.
This is a piece of British history that does much to explain the influences on Drake. While he is a subdued singer, he doesn't show the angst normally portrayed in his other albums. What you do hear is a true love for music being sang by someone who `gets it.' Included with the cd is a great booklet with subsections in prose written by his friends and family about Nick. Their personal takes on Drake read almost like a diary introspection. Not every artist could release an album like this. I would say only enigmas could get away with the intimate setting. When it does work, like this cd: "Family Tree", becomes a stepping stone in a short path to greatness.
Jeff Feezle of Macafeez