Jun 062023
aldous harding john parish three hours cover

“Three Hours” is an album cut from Nick Drake’s debut album Five Leaves Left. It’s one of the tracks on that record that most shows off Drake’s deft finger-picking. It is not only the longest track on the album but the longest track in his entire, brief oeuvre. It’s a little bit different than your standard Nick Drake track.

PJ Harvey-collaborator John Parish and New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding have teamed up to record a version of “Three Hours” for the new Nick Drake tribute Endless Coloured Ways. And their muse appears to be Wilco or Krautrock bands such as Neu! as much as it is Drake himself.

From the opening drone, it’s clear that Parish and Harding have something very different in mind that a vaguely progressive folk song. The drums and throbbing bass kick in and I’m immediately reminded of “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” the epic 11-minute jam from Wilco’s 2004 album A Ghost is Born. But Harding’s and Parish’s voice are much folkier, and much closer to Drake’s in tone, than either Jeff Tweedy or the guys in Neu! And the looped electric piano and chugging organ dispel some of the similarities. But it’s still a little bit like “Spiders” without the cathartic release of the jamming.

It’s an interesting take that both recalls the original in its vocal line but sounds utterly divorced from the original in terms of the rest of the sonic palette. Sure, Neu! were recording at the same time as Drake, but it’s hard to imagine them collaborating. Now we know what that might have sounded like.

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