Bryter Layter – Nick Drake (1970)

“On the release of Bryter Layter in 1970, the agoraphobic Nick Drake put the nails in the album’s coffin by failing to accompany it with any publicity – or indeed barely any live performance. It was only after his death, (four years later from an overdose of prescription drugs), that the self-destructive singer’s music garnered any real praise. It’s telling that in his life he never really fitted in, and whether it was a cause or a symptom, his music followed a similar fate. He was a man out of sync, out of time. By the turn of the decade, when Bryter Layter came out, free love had been usurped by the encroaching paranoia of amphetamines, Hells Angels and an altogether heavier noise. Grizzled leviathans like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were tearing up the popular music map. Even John Lennon – the last of the big hitters to grow disenchanted with Peace ‘n’ Love’s glib appeal – had left the party for the primal scream therapy that would fuel the high watermark of his solo career, the Plastic Ono Band. All the while, Drake earnestly persevered with his self-fulfilling whimsy, blinkered and inward looking. As an artist, he was unlucky in his timing. It was an era of precocious talents, and cruelly, he would narrowly miss out on the Haight-Ashbury heyday that would have suited him so much better. Inevitable comparisons with Dylan may be a little unfair on the Englishman, but in his way, the American too was a relic. He admitted as much in the first part of his Chronicles autobiography, declaring he felt he belonged in an earlier age. But where he canonised his nostalgia to forge a future, Drake merely sounded overwrought, swamped in melancholia. So if he was to be judged on his contemporaries of the period, then the reissue of Bryter Layter in this instance has a cast iron alibi. For in the cold light of 2013, it seems unfair that on release it sold barely a handful of copies. The reissue has added appeal too. It’s a lovingly crafted demonstration of the ethereal qualities a physical release has over its successors. Here, a Russian-doll of boxes indulge the record inside, reproduced with its own ageing process – even complete with the original price tag, all making a noisy argument for vinyl as the superior format. Before the record’s even out of the box, it’s an occasion. There is simply more space for expression. There’s a gig poster of the period, a reel-to-reel tape prints, and hand-written lyric sheets complete the illusion.  …”
The Quietus
W – Bryter Layter
YouTube: Bryter Layter 10 videos


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