Nick Drake – Another of the music business casualties, Nick was just too sensitive to survive. He made just 3 albums in his short lifetime – and they are all classics. At the time each barely sold a few thousand copies – but since he died they have become cult albums and are now in the millions. He was an influence on many later artists who loved his weary, almost not there ethereal tunes. In a way he drew the path for others to follow. He was almost always depressed and his lack of success both re-enforced his depression and became a justification that he was right. I do know just how he felt. The brick wall that you hit as an artist becomes in itself a wall to keep out all the critics. He was a great friend of John Martyn (see M) and Richard Thompson (seeT), but even they could not persuade him to continue. First up is his debut Five Leaves Left; (1969) a gentle and relatively happy sounding album. Best songs – ‘River Man’, ‘Time Has Told me’, and ‘Cello Song’. Apparently Nick wanted the album to be just his voice and guitar but his producer put a sympathetic backing on it, much to his displeasure. Two years later and he recorded Bryter Later – This is probably his best effort. Two versions of ‘Hazy Jane’ which send you off into another world, and ‘Poor Boy’ and ‘Northern Sky’ are lovely and lyrical. He almost sounds happy at times, but there is that deep melancholy vein through the album. At times it just fits your mood, but I can understand how he never achieved a wider audience. I only discovered him through an Island sampler ‘El Pea’ which had a track of his on. His last album was ‘Pink Moon’. Another downbeat record, less backing too – almost stark in places. The title track is quite good, and several other tracks just slip by nicely, but you get the feeling when the record stops that you haven’t really heard it. As if it has sent you momentarily to sleep. There have been many compilations since his death in 1974 (a suicide), I only have A Treasury – and no new tracks, but simply the better tracks. One suspects that had he lived he would have struggled to be allowed to make any more albums, and that would have been that. As it is, like many others, his early death has ensured him a following he never found in his brief life.
Duffy – broke through in 2008 with the number one album Rockferry. She sounded so like the fatal Amy Whitehouse (see W) that her voice seems almost affected, a yearning voice similar to Adele too (see A). this obviously hit the spot with a younger audience and she had incredible success for a couple of years. The album is okay, and yet somehow it fails to satisfy me. I am always on the lookout for new girl singers – but Duffy was not to be one. No bad songs on the records; just nothing that sticks in my mind. Ah…maybe I am just getting old. Duffy has practically retired after her two albums brought her fame (which she apparently hated) and fortune (which I suspect she liked),