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Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (1970)

February 8, 2014

[Album 286/1001]220px-Bryter_Layter

Not many artists can say that their entire studio catalogue is on the 1001 list.

The supremely talented Nick Drake is one of the members of this exclusive club.

Bryter Layter is the second of Drake’s trio of 1001-listed studio albums recorded during his tragically brief career.  Although it is his most upbeat record, overall I found it less interesting than Five Leaves Left and Pink Moon.

That being said, less interesting for Nick Drake is still miles from throwaway and superior to the majority of popular music.  Bryter Layter has much to offer and his guitar playing is as spectacular as ever, notably on Hazey Jane I.  Then there’s gorgeous penultimate tune Northern Sky: better love songs are hard to find.

The album cover is a bit misleading as it’s a full band throughout.  The musicians are all fine, capable players individually and as a collective.

It’s just that Nick Drake may be the prime example of less is more.  If I had to choose, I prefer the more intimate, one-man & an acoustic show.

From → 1970s

  1. Here’s an artist I know very little about. I had an old girlfriend who introduced me to Nick Drake about 10 years ago. I have not heard this one, the “upbeat” one as you put it. I will say that in general I’m not drawn to the one man & acoustic format, so maybe this one would do it for me.

    • And ‘upbeat’ is another relative term, it won’t be confused with early 80s Prince anytime soon!

      For an example of this sort of ‘upbeat’, ‘Hazey Jane II’ is a good one (Hazey Jane I is more subdued) . Northern Sky really is magical – like the title track on pink moon, it’s not just guitar but it’s probably my ideal level of ‘sparseness’

      With the full band & backup vocals on a song like ‘Poor Boy,’ I feel how some people probably felt about Metallica’s S&M – interesting to hear the big accompaniment, but the core artist’s sound was preferred.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment here, Geoff. This is an excellent album but doesn’t have the power of Five Leaves Left, which is my personal favorite. His catalog is so small, though, that anyone interested in his music should just get the three official albums and possibly the Time Of No Reply collection of outtakes & rarities. It’s been nearly two years since I wrote my post on his brief but influential discography, and the music continues to inspire me.

    • Thank you Rich – and good choice of Five Leaves Left. I might give Pink Moon the nod as my favourite, there’s something so haunting about that recording.
      The main take away advice, I’m glad we agree, is that all a certainly worth owning!

      • There’s no doubt that Pink Moon is a fantastic album but I feel that, song-for-song, Five Leaves Left is the stronger of the two…by a very narrow margin.

        I hope you don’t mind this, but I wanted to share a link to the post I wrote on Nick Drake’s catalog a couple of years ago. Anything to expose his music to more people is a good thing, right? Hopefully your readers will enjoy this:

      • Rich, I practically insist that you (and all my fellow music blogging colleagues) post links to your reviews whenever I look at an album/artist you’ve already covered. It turns the idea of a blog from a static photograph to a much more interesting, ongoing discussion which I fully endorse!

      • Thanks, Geoff. I feel the same way about these “ongoing discussions.” I just never want to come across as someone who’s linking to my blog simply as self-promotion. I would only link to one of my posts if it was directly related to that topic.

        It’s fun to talk about Nick Drake’s music. Even though our favorites may be slightly different, we’ll never argue about our love for that voice & guitar work. Truly one-of-a-kind.

  3. Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented:
    Much as I love to be introduced to new recipes for the foods I love, I also love being introduced to music that I have either not heard before or that brings back memories. 1001 albums in 10 years does both.

  4. Nick Drake – so tragic. I am aware of his legacy. He was immensely talented and I wish he wanted to be here longer than he was.

    • It’s hard to believe wasn’t really appreciated until long after he was gone. Some of the songs on his three records would be pretty close to my definition of ‘timeless’

  5. I’ve always liked this album best out of the trio and I think it’s because it is his most upbeat album. Nice post.

    • My thanks – he seems to be one of those artists most people can at least appreciate. Other artists are more polarizing but with Drake, I’d imagine most would agree that even if his music isn’t their cuppa, there’s no denying the talent.

  6. Thanks for the suggestion of “Master of Puppets’ for my site- It is going to get a medal! if you want to write a small piece on why you like it so much-I will be glad to feature it on my blog- but either way—-thanks!


  7. Who are the other artists whose entire catalogue is in the list?

    • The only other ones that come to mind are Jimi Hendrix Experience and Dexys Midnight Runners – but Dexys has since come out with another one so I guess if it doesn’t make it on the new 1001 list, they are no longer in the club!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Band – The Band (1969) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. Top 5 “Jane” Songs | 1001albumsin10years

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