Bunch Of Fives: Luke James Williams | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Cambridgeshire Indie/alt-folk singer-songwriter Luke James Williams is set to perform alongside Katherine Priddy, George Boomsma, Ceitidh Mac (Stockton & Durham) and Hector Gannet (North Shields) in a series of concerts celebrating the life and music of Nick Drake. 

The Down By The River events will be taking place at The Engine Room, North Shields on Thursday 14th October (sold out), The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Friday 15th October and Claypath Deli, Durham on Saturday 16th October (sold out).

Ahead of these shows, Luke gives us a bunch of fives…

When Nick Drake passed away in 1974 at just 26 years old, he had released three studio albums. In the subsequent years since his death, a wealth of other brilliant recordings have been released on various compilations. Here are five standout tracks that you won’t find on the studio albums. 

Time Of No Reply
Recorded in the sessions for Fives Leaves Left, this is a gorgeous song that Nick Drake performed as part of his live session for John Peel’s Night Ride show in 1969. I love that so many of Nick’s songs surprise you and the way the chord progression changes to shift the mood between verse and chorus is just stunning. 

Clothes Of Sand
I’ve always been a fan of atmospheric music and one of the things I love most about Nick Drake is his ability to create atmosphere with just voice and guitar; alternative guitar tunings, the interaction between melody and chords and his beautifully poetic lyrics all working perfectly together to achieve it. This song floored me the first time I heard it. I absolutely love the atmosphere and the pictures it paints. You can find a great cover of it by one of my favourite bands, Calexico. 

Magic (I Was Made To Love Magic)
For me, one of Nick Drake’s most interesting and intriguing songs. Originally recorded for Five Leaves Left with an orchestral arrangement by Richard Hewson, it is thought that Nick’s original vision for the song was finally released in 2003 when his vocal was isolated from the original recording, sped up and married to a newly recorded orchestral arrangement which was written in 1969 by Nick’s Cambridge University friend, Robert Kirby. I love the way the song moves between major and minor in the chorus, creating light and shade with the lyrics. 

Rider On The Wheel
A beautiful track that is part of the so-called ‘The Final Four’; four tracks that were scheduled to feature on what would have been Nick’s fourth studio album. I love the intimacy of these ‘Final Four’ recordings, they sound as though Nick could be sat in the room with you. I wonder what instrumentation, if any, he may have added to these arrangements or if they would have been left as just voice and guitar in the same vein as many of the tracks on his final studio album, Pink Moon.

Tow The Line
When work was taking place on the Made to Love Magic compilation in 2003, producer John Wood discovered this ‘lost song’ at the very end of one the ‘Final Four’ tapes. It lay hidden for nearly 30 years and is thought to be the last studio recording Nick Drake made. It is a brooding track with both the guitar playing and vocal delivery displaying an edge and a bite which is a little different from Nick Drake’s other recordings. His old friend Robert Kirby believed that it could have been a pointer as to where Nick was heading next musically.

You can find a playlist of these brilliant tracks below.

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