The English folk singer and songwriter Nick Drake made three extraordinary albums between 1969 and 1972, and for many years, that was all there was. The discs, “Five Leaves Left,” “Bryter Layter” and “Pink Moon,” barely sold; Drake’s label, Island, dropped him; and in 1974, at age 26, he died of an overdose of antidepressant medicine.
Since Drake’s death, his following has grown significantly, and as his discography has been reissued, it has also grown: a collection of outtakes, “Time of No Reply,” was released in 1987 and updated as “Made to Love Magic” in 2004. “Family Tree,” a collection of home recordings, followed in 2007. There have been a few notable bootlegs as well, but the collection remains tiny.
Now Beverley Martyn, a folk singer and a mentor to Drake, along with her husband, John Martyn (who died in 2009), has brought to light an unknown reel of tape that seems like a significant addition to Drake’s discography, if it sees the light of day. And it may: Martyn has consigned the tape to Ted Owen & Company, a London auction house, which plans to auction it on July 31, as part of a sale that also includes guitars owned by Jimi Hendrix.
The company describes the tape on its website as “an original pristine late Sixties master tape,” with a label on the reel bearing Drake’s signature, but says that further information (including a full catalog and estimated sale prices) will be published nearer to the sale date.
Drake recorded the tape in 1968, before he began work on his debut album, and it includes simple arrangements, with Drake accompanying himself only on guitar or piano.
“He was young, he sounds full of fun, he sounds light and his guitar playing is absolutely excellent,” Martyn told The Independent.