Poor Boy – Songs of Nick Drake Tribute Album

by | May 24, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Poor Boy – Songs of Nick Drake Tribute Album; Songlines SGL SA4202-2 Hybrid Stereo SACD ***:

Nick Drake is one of those mysterious artists who never got much
attention (except when his songs appeared in television commercials)
and led a reclusive, possibly tortured existence. There aren’t many
pictures or typical documentation of his life—only stories told by
those lives he touched and came in contact with during his brief stay
on our Earth. In some ways, his life plays like “Vincent,” the sad song
by Don McClean describing another tortured soul. His musical career was
rather short and he only produced three albums: Five Leaves Left,
Bryter Later, and Pink Moon. He didn’t like to tour and had extreme
emotional difficulties that led to his death/suicide (not determined)
in 1974 at the early age of 26. The music on his last album is largely
acoustic with Drake’s wispy voice breathing life into them. The earlier
records are orchestrated and/or jazzy. They’re intimate to say the
least, and the themes were brooding and touched on sadness, mortality,
failing romance, and the like. Just listening to small clips of the
original songs will give the listener a peak into the intensity, power,
and beauty behind his music. It’s hard not to imagine what sort of
effect they’d have on even the casual listener, yet most people have
never heard of the man.

This brings us to this compilation which is full of unknown (to me)
artists doing their interpretations of songs. In the liner notes for
this disc even the producer questions whether the tribute album even
made sense to produce. Many of the artists never heard of Drake (or
barely knew his music), so their attempts to re-create his moods and
ideas are fresh and based upon first impressions, rather than many
years of admiration. In my opinion, the only good thing to come from
most tribute albums is the attention given to a possibly forgotten
artist or band. I’m not a big fan of movie remakes either, as I feel
the original work should stand on its own even if the intent is not
necessarily to imitate for the purpose of monetary gain, but solely as
a tribute to the gift possessed by the artist, or reverence to the
importance of the original work. You will have to judge for yourself
which is the case regarding this particular record.

The sound of this disc is an example of what the format is capable.
There is quite a mix of different interpretations ranging from jazz to
folk to more eclectic sounds but in the end I’d rather listen to the
originals. Songs included are: Cello Song (Bill Horist & Aiko
Shimada); Clothes of Sand (Kate Hammett-Vaughan); One of These Things
First (Chris Gestrin & Simon Fisk); Three Hours (Jason Michas &
Chris Gestrin); Hanging on a Star (Robin Holcomb & Veda Hille); For
Nick/Horn/Know (Francois Houle 6 + Danielle Hebert); Poor Boy (Kate
Hammett-Vaughan); Fly (Mike Dumovich); Parasite (Friendly Science
Orchestra); Road (Veda Hille & Robin Holcomb/Francois Houle);
Things Behind the Sun (Bill Horist & Sam Mickens); River Man (Mount
Analog with Jesse Sykes); Black Eyed Dog (Ian Moore & Eyvind Kang);
From the Morning (Mike Dumovich).

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