Nick Drake - Family Tree
Well, here it is, finally. The long awaited new Nick Drake compilation; that is, at least since the last one. The problem with an artist who has such incredible commercial clout but so little material available is that eventually record companies will begin to put out records that either have only the most tangential link with the artist or only the most tangential degree of interest for anyone other than diehard fans. See also The Sex Pistols, who might be a million miles away from Drake’s autumnal acoustic noodlings, but who have undergone a similar process of relentless exploitation- though at least in the case of The Pistols, exploitation was part and parcel of the experience from day one. With Drake’s music, it sometimes seems as if it was made more for himself than for anyone else, a fact heavily underlined on Family Tree.
What you have here is 28 tracks of badly recorded, occasionally unmusical fluff. Granted, none of the recordings presented here were intended for commercial release, being as they are works in progress, but if Island insists on releasing it then I must insist that it’s not very good. Some of the tracks, like Time Piece, consist of nothing more than Drake mumbling something over a tapped beat. It’s so wispy and inconsequential that it’s less a momentous insight into the development of an iconic talent and more a fine cure for insomnia (Irrelevant Geek Point: which Drake suffered from, of course).
Anyone wondering why this record is called Family Tree will find precious little to satisfy their curiosity. I suppose a spurious case could be made that most of the songs Drake covers on here begat the songs that would later make up his trilogy of properly recorded fare, although a more obvious explanation might be the inclusion of a scant three songs performed by members of his family. Frankly, I could’ve done without them; the idea of a family playing music together somehow revolts me…but it does beg the question. Surely the object of releasing this is so we can hear the young Nick Drake, rather than his mother or siblings, who evidently weren’t up to much? And if that’s the case, why bother including the three songs in question anyway? There’s probably a very good reason, but with a release as logic-confounding as this one, it will probably only present itself if you do as Drake did and smoke copious amounts of marijuana.