“Every week, somewhere in the world, singers gather in clubs and halls to sing the songs of Nick Drake. It is sobering to think that more people now hear his songs in a month than ever heard them in his lifetime.” – Joe Boyd
Undoubtedly one of the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years, Nick Drake found little mainstream success during his lifetime; however, since his untimely death at the age of 26, his fragile acoustic, autumnal music has touched the hearts of millions of people. Over the years since Drake’s death, his original producer Joe Boyd has explored the possibility of producing an album in tribute to his songwriting. But despite many well-known artists wishing to participate, he always resisted, because it seemed the only practical way to accomplish it would be for each artist to supply a track recorded separately, with their own chosen musicians. Boyd felt that the only way to avoid the pitfalls of the typical Tribute Album would be to have everyone together for a week in a rural studio, backing each other with harmonies and guitar parts, creating an organic whole of an album. By performing Way To Blue fifteen times over the course of four years, he has accomplished something resembling his original dream. The songs have been honed and shaped over the course of time, and the spirit of togetherness among the Way To Blue company has proved inspiring to all participants. The recordings on this new CD are the edited highlights of concerts in London and Melbourne; the interpretations provide evidence, if such evidence was ever needed, of the timeless depth of Nick Drake’s qualities as a songwriter. The result is an album with the quality of a studio production and the spontaneity of a live performance. Writing in the album sleeve notes, Joe says, “Selecting singers has been one of the most rewarding parts of this exercise. One criterion was that none of them should sound like Nick.
“Shortly after the Birmingham Town Hall show, as I was preparing a concert of Incredible String Band songs at the Barbican, I learned that Green Gartside, whose Scritti Politti recordings I had loved in the ‘80s, wanted to come and ‘play some back-up guitar or sing harmony’. I asked him whether he was equally fond of Nick Drake. You can hear the response in his performance of “Fruit Tree” on this cd.