‘No Fences’: Rediscovering Garth Brooks’ Country Record-Breaker
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It's little wonder why Drake felt frustrated at the lack of commercial success his music initially gathered, considering the help he had on his debut record. Besides fine production from Joe Boyd and assistance from folks like Fairport Convention 's Richard Thompson and his unrelated bass counterpart from Pentangle , Danny Thompson , Drake also recruited school friend Robert Kirby to create most of the just-right string and wind arrangements. His own performance itself steered a careful balance between too-easy accessibility and maudlin self-reflection, combining the best of both worlds while avoiding the pitfalls on either side. The result was a fantastic debut appearance, and if the cult of Drake consistently reads more into his work than is perhaps deserved, Five Leaves Left is still a most successful effort. Having grown out of the amiable but derivative styles captured on the long-circulating series of bootleg home recordings, Drake imbues his tunes with just enough drama -- world-weariness in the vocals, carefully paced playing, and more -- to make it all work. His lyrics capture a subtle poetry of emotion, as on the pastoral semi-fantasia of "The Thoughts of Mary Jane," which his soft, articulate singing brings even more to the full.
F orty years ago this month, Nick Drake could be found performing a rare for him series of one-night club gigs in support of his recently released album Five Leaves Left. The paranoia and self doubt that would mar so much of his short career eventually led him to abandon live appearances altogether. It might have all been a different story if the Five Leaves Left album had not been largely ignored by the record buying public. That is, of course, in stark contrast to the esteem he is held in today.