Nick Drake’s Family Tree album out in June

Music News | Apr 11th, 2007

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Family Tree, to be released on June 19th, 2007 on Tsunami LG/Fontana, in the US and Island Records in Europe, will feature previously unreleased tracks from the vaults of the Estate of Nick Drake. The album tells the story of Nick’s musical development in the years prior to recording his official debut album Five Leaves Left.

Recorded in the late 1960 s, the 28 tracks feature 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, “Poor Mum” and “Try to Remember”, written and performed by Molly Drake bears testament to her musical influence on her son, conscious or otherwise.

After Nick’s death in 1974, his parents Rodney and Molly Drake began to receive visits from fans compelled to understand more about the source of his music by traveling to the place where he lived and died. For Rodney and Molly, this was no invasion of privacy. On the contrary, aware that this might be the beginning of the recognition that their son had longed for in his lifetime, they invited those fans in and quite often shared the music a young Nick had recorded on an early reel-to-reel recorder. Often fans left with their own cassette tapes of those songs.

Some poor versions of these tapes circulated among collectors for decades. The overwhelming fan demand for unreleased material or stronger versions of these bootlegged songs has thrown up a challenge to the Estate to release something worthy of his legacy.

The Family Tree release will include a recent letter written by Gabrielle Drake to her brother in which she reminisces about their growing up, their family life, and explains how she has tried to preserve his legacy as she thinks he would approve. “I hope that, in the circumstances, you could have given “Family Tree” your blessing. Or if not, that you could have at least looked on with that wry smile of yours.”

Family Tree, unlike Nick’s albums which contained only his own material, features the young artist mastering the compositions made famous by Bob Dylan, Blind Boy Fuller, and Jackson C Frank. It also showcases his early songwriting skills on tracks like “They’re Leaving Me Behind”, “Blossom” and “Come Into The Garden”. In segues between tracks, the listener hears Nick speaking to himself, even laughing in between takes. The album also includes two versions of songs that ended up on Nick”s first album “Five Leaves Left” which were recorded by his arranger Robert Kirby whilst they were both studying at Cambridge University in 1968.

You need only hear Nick and Gabrielle’s exquisite blood harmonies on “All My Trials” or Nick playing clarinet with his aunt and uncle on “Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio” to realize that this was a house whose inhabitants entertained themselves and each other by playing music. In the album closer “Do You Ever Remember?” Molly Drake sings not just for their sorrow, but also for the laughter that once resounded throughout a happy, loving home. It’s a laughter that resounds sometimes literally throughout the whole of Family Tree. In doing so, it brings us closer to who Nick Drake was than perhaps any written account of his life thus far.

Track listing:

1. Come In To The Garden (introduction) (Nick Drake)

2. They’re Leaving Me Behind (Nick Drake)

3. Time Piece (Nick Drake)

4. Poor Mum (M.Drake) performed by Molly Drake

5. Winter Is Gone (Traditional, arr: Nick Drake)

6. All My Trials (Traditional) performed by Nick and Gabrielle Drake

7. Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio performed by The Family Trio

8. Strolling Down the Highway (Bert Jansch)

9. Paddling In Rushmere (Traditional)

10. Cocaine Blues (Traditional)

11. Blossom (Nick Drake)

12. Been Smokin’ Too Long (Robin Frederick)

13. Black Mountain Blues (Traditional)

14. Tomorrow’s A Long Time (Bob Dylan)

15. If You Leave Me (Dave Van Ronk)

16. Here Come The Blues (Jackson C. Frank)

17. Sketch 1 (Nick Drake)

18. Blues Run The Game (Jackson C. Frank)

19. My Baby So Sweet (Traditional)

20. Milk And Honey (Jackson C. Frank)

21. Kimbie (Traditional)

22. Bird Flew By (Nick Drake)

23. Rain (Nick Drake)

24. Strange Meeting II (Nick Drake)

25. Day Is Done (Nick Drake)

26. Come Into The Garden (Nick Drake)

27. Way to Blue (Nick Drake)

28. Do You Ever Remember? (M. Drake) performed by Molly Drake