Veteran producer Joe Boyd says he'd long resisted putting together some sort of tribute album for his late friend, the legendary folksinger Nick Drake. But he finally decided to make one when Boyd realized that the recordings could be captured in a live concert. "In my opinion, the only way to make a tribute record work is to get everyone together in the same place so there's a unity of sound and spirit," he tells us in an email.
So Boyd, who produced Nick Drake's first two records in the late '60s and early '70s, gathered together a dozen artists — including Robyn Hitchcock, Teddy Thompson and Vashti Bunyan — for a series of concerts in the U.K., Australia and Italy to celebrate Drake's music. The best moments from those concerts, including Lisa Hannigan's mesmerizing performance of Drake's song "Black Eyed Dog," appear on an upcoming collection called Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake.
Hannigan's version of "Black Eyed Dog" was recorded at one of the concerts in London, in 2010. Boyd says her performance, and those of the other artists, "exceeded my dreams of what was possible. The fact that none of them sounds like Nick makes you realize what a great songwriter he was."
The Way to Blue collection comes out April 16. In addition to the many guest appearances, it also features Nick Drake's original bassist, Danny Thompson, as well as Drake's original arrangements by Robert Kirby.