Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
There is a definite feel that the songwriting talents of Nick Drake, so overlooked and undervalued in his all-too-brief lifetime, are again coming back around into view. Suddenly a host of newer and younger artists are covering his work, like Josienne Clark and Valerie June. Plus, there is today’s release of a new tribute album, The Endless Coloured Ways, featuring artists as varied as Fontaines D.C. and Let’s Eat Grandma. So, having featured full-album posts with his first, Five Leaves Left, and last, Pink Moon, surely the time has come for us to complete his triad of albums in this series.
Bryter Layter has always seemed the most substantial of Drake’s holy trinity, perhaps down to the lush orchestrations of Robert Kirby and the stellar rhythm section of the Fairport duo, Daves Pegg and Mattacks. The latter pair were also the de facto core of the Island records house band of that time, the Oxfordshire Sly and Robbie, appearing on records by artists as diverse as John Martyn and Murray Head. True, Kirby also adorned Five Leaves Later, but with Danny Thompson’s (no less splendid) acoustic bass that time around, it was all a little more pastoral, with the difference rendering this disc with that little bit more drive and grit. Which, admittedly, are words people don’t tend to use too frequently around the maudlin and whimsical canon of Nick Drake.
Bryter Layter first came out in 1971, produced, as always, by Joe Boyd, a man who has continued to keep the flame of Drake alive, even ahead of latter recognition and accolade. But, like Five Leaves Left before, it sank like a stone, even if critics were beginning to find decent things to say. How sad that it took Nick Drake’s death, and the repercussions of that on his peers and acolytes, to get his name up in lights so many decades on. There have been other tribute albums in his memory: 1992’s Brittle Days, for instance, and 2013’s Way To Blue, the latter curated by Boyd, and I dare say there will be more. But today, in honor of the newest one, let’s make up one of our own.