Search - Nick Drake :: Five Leaves Left

Five Leaves Left
Nick Drake
Five Leaves Left
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Reissue of the late British folk icon's 1969 debut album. Ten tracks. Island.


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CD Details

All Artists: Nick Drake
Title: Five Leaves Left
Members Wishing: 10
Total Copies: 1
Label: Universal Import
Original Release Date: 1/1/1969
Re-Release Date: 5/6/2003
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriters, Oldies, Folk Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 042284291521


Album Description
Reissue of the late British folk icon's 1969 debut album. Ten tracks. Island.

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CD Reviews

Nick Drake=genius
Brian Pyles | Bakersfield,CA | 11/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Nick Drake isn't for everyone. This is his first recorded output and it is amazing. I can't lead a horse to water, nor make it drink but do yourself favor and have a sip from nick Drake has left us and savor every last last drop-do yourself a favor."
Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 11/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In a recent review, I called Tape from California by Phil Ochs a classic for its inventive, barouqe treatment of folk. On the other side of the pond, England, around the same time, Nick Drake created another classic, Five Leaves Left.

The similarities between Ochs and Drake are interesting. Both expaneded the guitar strumming scope of folk music with orcherstration, both suffered from depression--a much harder illness to treat in 1969. And both died young, Ochs from suicide and Drake from an accidental drug overdoese.

But Drake was more musically subtle . He wrote about deeply personal issues, not the political and social ideas Ochs choose, and while Tape From California features hapsichords and huge scores, Drake used quiet and yes depressed string sections. Listen to "Riverman" to hear Drakes more pastoral approach.

The quiet muted sound is from a quiet muted man. Drake often sings his Keatsian lyrics in a low tone, just above a whisper. You get the shy sadness of a broken young man in both the resignation of music and words.

Drake is not trying to overcome his sadness, but rests in it, sitting still to witness whatever beauty he may be able to see and feel. His music indicates that was a lot, and there is a classical grace and vurnerability to all the songs. Through these he is able make you experiance his own sadness and resignation, and immediately, you connect with Five Leaves Left.

Drake was also an excellent guitar player, and a lot of his songs have the impulse of celtic jazz. Backed by memebers of Pentangle and Fairport Convention, two of the best jazz-folk outfits in England then, these songs contain an expert ressonce that take them way beyond average folk."
An original wonderful creation from just one man - for the 1
John J. Martinez | Chicago, Illinois United States | 06/01/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I only recently heard of Nick Drake after watching the BBC documentary on him titled "Lost Boy: In Search of Nick Drake," and it was more a surreal film directed by the likes of Roger Waters than a simple film crew. (I found out later it was a radio program, so the visuals for this were an afterthought.) However, this doc was a labor of love, so I decided to search out Nick's music, especially after hearing a cross section of his only 3 album output.

This is my review for the first part of that trilogy, as some people have come to call it, "Five Leaves Left."

I was seriously blown away.

This came at me in a slow mellow come-easy mix of mental collages and slides through your mind like a good tasting sandwich with some cold icy water. Each song is filled a story of loss, or longing, or reaching out, and will crush any notions about what you may have heard in passing about Nick's bleak sad history.

Was he troubled? Yes. Was he in pain and depressed and on medications to somehow try and control him? Sure. Did he take them all the time, knowing it would squelch his creativity? No.

Nick, by all accounts, was depressive, and didn't care about the fame, and didn't want to be famous, but sadly after his death, he left music which is timeless for the listener, and could be anonymously be released now and it would have become a number one album for anyone who would want to claim it.

And that's my problem.

Music has evolved (without Nick) to such a point in the last 10 years that this kind of sound, the lone artist with the acoustic guitar/orchestral mix of sound, is so prevalent now it gets lost among the crashing swells of hip-hop, crappy rock and other mostly sorry excuses for music.

It's become so commonplace that it sits proudly on the lite rock/alternative stations worldwide and you can find any 19 year old with a guitar uploading their latest music online or on iTunes for you to download, and most of it all sounds like this. BUT... let's look at Nick's work first, because he pretty much originated this style. 10 songs at just under 60 minutes:

01. "Time Has Told Me" - this opening riff, with intimate lyrics and almost a country feel, reminds me so quickly of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which was recorded only a year later. Did Paul Simon hear this song and copy it, or was it a matter of coincidence? The lyrics here are definitely more upbeat, though...
02. "River Man" - this is one of the best songs on the album, hands down. It's intimate without trying, and it's an effortless mix of lyrics and song, and if you were to only hear one song on this album, this is Nick's Mt. Everest.
03. "Three Hours" - this song, even though the lyrics are upfront about a couple of men on a flight from the west to London, and the music has a slight Mediterranean feel, just somehow reminds me of Jesus on the cross - and it's odd yet wonderful alliteration if I'm able to do pull something from that! The song sounds so urgent, too...
04. "Way to Blue" - this has got to be one of the more psychedelic songs, and it is early 1969, after all... Nick was trying to pull every fleeting reference to slipping away and tripping away as he could out of his bag.
05. "Day Is Done" - this has Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle" and especially "Lover's Cross" all over it, from the hurried minor chords on the guitar to the swelling orchestral background sweeping through it towards the middle and end. I knew it sounded familiar. Regardless, I like Nick's so much I'm willing to forgive Jim for it.
06. "'Cello Song" - this is such a strong song, and the lyrics toell the listener that it's OK, Nick's got it, he'll shield you from the madness and the badness, let him just play his music for you... and the cello doesn't hurt, either.
07. "The Thoughts of Mary Jane" - let's face it, this is the most polished and "commercial" of all the songs - for 1969. The veiled references to drugs, the lifting lyrics accompanied by flute, it pains me to say it, but this also the weakest song on the album, too. It's just too dated, no matter what many may say.
08. "Man in a Shed" - this song is funny and fun and at the same time so depressing and fruitless, but the song makes a point - loneliness can have it's merits - besides, "sheds are nicer than you thought"...
09. "Fruit Tree" - this song tells of the perils of the fleeting fame, and of friends, and of acquaintances who will love you one moment and say 'who was he?' the next, and the only place you are sure you can feel safe in this life was when you were in the womb, or as an a adult, a womb-like space, black and quiet. This song goes pretty deep, and it has it's moments.
10. "Saturday Sun" - to use the sun and moon and the rain and the sky as actual people are a theme in Nick's writing, but to put entire days together in a easy little song about Sunday's loss of his good friend Saturday? Wow...!

Nick was an pioneering inventor of the melding of intimate lyrics combined with the muted tones of the orchestra, kind of like Leonard Cohen, but not with all the depression attached to it. He was a genius as Syd Barrett was, and Mozart. All of them died young, forgotten for years, and then suddenly a new generation "finds" them and reveres them.

This is nothing new, but Nick's work is still very special, and worth take a listen to. I only took a star off because, honestly, some of the songs are a bit dated, but then again a new generation has "found" this style of playing music, and by God they're running with it.

Sorry to say, Nick would get trampled at the very temple of music he helped create, because they want their 15 minutes, and they'd hit anyone with an acoustic guitar to get there.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my review, and please don't forget to comment - I am sometimes wrong, as we all are - and also don't forget to check out my other reviews as well!"