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Various - Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake

  by Jon Rogers

published: 11 / 4 / 2013

Various - Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake
Label: Navigator Records
Format: CD


Fine Nick Drake tribute album which, recorded live at concerts in Melbourne and London, includes contributions from Vashti Bunyan, Danny Thompson, Green Gartside and Robyn Hitchcock

The tribute album. All too often just simply utterly terrible. Get one or two famous faces to bash out half-thought out rendition of the artist in question then fill the rest of the album with some utterly never-heard-of artists. Slap on some god-awful cover and, hey presto, the (cough) loving tribute is ready to roll and part the fan from their money. While 'Way to Blue' has a whiff of that aspect it is - ultimately, worth a listen. There is more than just a smattering of famous faces that pop up to pay tribute to the great English folk singer -most notably Vashti Bunyan, Danny Thompson, Green Gartside and Robyn Hitchcock. But there are also the utterly unknowns too, such as Luluc and Krystle Warren. At least though this compilation has the seal of approval from Drake's original producer and mentor Joe Boyd who helped organise a series of concerts celebrating the musician. The fifteen songs selected here come from concerts in Melbourne and London in November 2011 and January 2010. The artists and interpretations, fortunately, don't sound similar to Drake's originals. And that is a good thing. There is no point simply producing a carbon copy of the original. You might as well stick on the original version. So there are excellent versions of 'Parasite' by the former Soft Boys leader, Hitchcock and a sensitive reading of 'Which Will' by Bunyan. Lisa Hannigan also tackles the tricky 'Black Eyed Dog' via Nico, and fills the opening of the song full of her harmonium's forboding which fits neatly with the song's sense of impending doom. So far, so good, but then there are those that stray a little too far from the path, like Shane Nicholson's interpretation of 'Poor Boy' which lacks the rather tongue-in-cheek aspect of the original. And Scott Matthews tries just a little bit too hard on 'Place to Be' and ends up getting rather carried away with it all. Tribute albums can be tough creatures and all too often just generally fail. If new interpretations are too faithful to the original, questions are asked along the lines of 'what's the point?' if it is too similar. Do a radical version though and you have lost the very people you are trying to attract. I mean, who would want to hear, say, a heavy metal version of 'Pink Moon'? Anyone? Thought not. 'Way to Blue' just about manages to carry it all off. A few hiccups along the way, but it gets there.

Track Listing:-
1 Things Behind the Sun
2 Place to Be
3 Fruit Tree
4 Poor Boy
5 Time Has Told Me
6 Parasite
7 One of These Things First
8 Which Will
9 Black-Eyed Dog
10 Rider on the Wheel
11 River Man
12 Saturday Sun
13 Day Is Done
14 Fly
15 Pink Moon

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