Five Leaves Left Album is by Nick Drake, who was an English folk musician.
His debut studio album was released on the 3rd of July 1969 under the record label Island, now part of the Universal Music Group.
The album, written by Nick Drake, was produced by Joe Boyd, the American record producer and writer. As a producer he first worked with British blues-rock studio band, Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse, for What’s Shakin’, a compilation album that was released by the Record label in June 1966.
Joe Boyd has worked with a variety of recording artists including Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, The Incredible String Band and, R.E.M.
The ten tracks for the Five Leaves Left album was recorded at Sound Techniques studios in Chelsea, West London, England.
Recorded when Nick Drake was twenty years old, the songs were laid down between July 1968 and June 1969. During the sessions he played and sang live, accompanying the string section with all tracks recorded without overdubbing.
At the time of the album’s release, reviews were mixed, it wasn’t until the 90s that the singer began to get recognition from music critics.
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Ned Raggett gave the album five out of five stars. He called the album a ” fantastic debut appearance, ” adding that Nick Drake ” imbues his tunes with just enough drama — world-weariness in the vocals carefully paced playing, and more — to make it all work. “
Chris Jones wrote a positive review in 2007 for the BBC Music website, praising the artist saying that ” all we can do is bask in the unique vision captured here and be grateful that, for a short period, Nick Drake was able to share it with us all. “
The most well known single, ” Riverman “, was remastered and released as a 7” vinyl single and enhanced Compact Disc on the 13th of September 2004.
The song was written by Nick Drake with the string arrangement composed by Scottish musician, bandleader and music director, Harry Robertson.
Lyrically it is built around a character called Betty. Although Nick Drake never reveals her identity in the song, British writer and broadcaster Trevor Dann, who is the biographer of the singer, speculated that Betty is based on Betty Foy, a character from the poem ” The Idiot Boy ” by Wordsworth.
However, this is pure speculation which is based on the fact that the singer had studied it at Cambridge University.
The single entered the UK Singles Chart on the 25th of September 2004 and peaked at number forty-eight. It spent one week in the Top 100.
The Five Leaves Left album was released as a Vinyl LP in 1969 and Compact Disc on March 1987 and again on the 26th of June 2000.
About Nick Drake
Nicholas Rodney Drake was born into an upper-middle-class musical family on the 19th of June 1948 in Rangoon ( now called Yangon ), Burma.
With the encouragement of his mother, Mary, Nick Drake learnt to play the piano when very young, he also started composing songs which he recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder his mother kept in the drawing room of their home.
Nick Drake became an accomplished musician playing guitar, piano, clarinet and saxophone.
In the mid-1960s, he formed his first band called The Perfumed Gardeners with four of his schoolmates. They performed covers of Yardbirds and Manfred Mann songs along with jazz standards. Famously, the singer and songwriter, Chris de Burgh, asked to join the group, he was rejected at the time because his taste in music was considered to be favouring pop music and so didn’t fit their style.
After the group disbanded, Nick Drake’s music became influenced by artists such as Bob Dylan, Donovan, Van Morrison, Josh White and Phil Ochs.
He was discovered by Ashley Hutchings, the bass guitarist for English folk-rock band, Fairport Convention. Ashley Hutchings introduced him to Joe Boyd, producer and owner of Witchseason Productions, the production and management company which was, at the time, licensed to the record label Island Records.
The two became close friends with the producer who was a respected figure on the UK folk scene, acting as a mentor to Nick Drake throughout his career.
Their friendship became strained due to the singer’s increasingly distant behaviour, increased drug use and regular disappearances.
Nick Drake was twenty-six when he died in the early hours of the 25th of November 1974 at his home in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire, England. The cause of death was recorded as an overdose of the antidepressant amitriptyline.
To date, Nick Drake’s Album releases ( including posthumously ) are three studio, seven Compilations, fifteen Soundtrack albums, two box sets and one video album. There have been five singles released and eleven Compilation appearances by the singer.
Although he received very little in the way of critical acclaim during his lifetime, Nick Drake has since found favour with music critics.
All three of his original albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter and Pink Moon, have now been regarded as masterpieces by many music publications.
In 2018, it was announced that Nick Drake was to be inducted into the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame.
Five Leaves Left Album Track Listing:
1. Time Has Told Me
2. River Man
3. Three Hours
4. Way to Blue
5. Day Is Done
6. ‘Cello Song
7. The Thoughts of Mary Jane
8. Man in a Shed
9. Fruit Tree
10. Saturday Sun