“Family Tree” tells the story of Nick Drake’s musical development in the years prior to his debut album ‘Five Leaves Left’ in 1969.
It features 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 by his mother Molly Drake bears testament to her influence on her son. His final performances on “Family Tree” Day Is Done and Way To Blue recorded by his Cambridge friend and arranger Robert Kirby are the end of one story and the beginning of another. “Family Tree” comprises mostly other people’s compositions: the folk and blues tunes used by many a young guitarist in the 60s, attempting to master the fretboard. Nick played Jackson C. Frank, Bert Jansch, Dave Van Ronk and, of course, Bob Dylan. In the years since Nick’s death in 1974, many of the songs on “Family Tree” have turned up on bootlegs, many of a very poor quality indeed. For Nick’s estate and those charged with the job of managing it – Gabrielle Drake, Cally Callomon – the continuing proliferation of these bootlegs led them to decide that it would at least be preferable to present them in a more suitable manner. A singular talent who passed almost unnoticed during his brief lifetime, Nick Drake produced three studio albums of sombre beauty: FIVE LEAVES LEFT (1969), BRYTER LAYTER (1970), and PINK MOON (1972). It’s impossible to keep count of the contemporary artists who cite Drake as an inspiration, but a cursory round-up includes R.E.M., Paul Weller, Travis, Portishead, The Coral, Coldplay, David Gray, Super Furry Animals and Beth Orton. Along with household names of his creative lifetime – the Stones, The Beatles, Marley, Hendrix – his albums have become an unofficial set text for anyone passionate about music.