A companion piece to his three studio albums, Made to Love Magic is a Nick Drake album comprised of rarities, outtakes, and remixes, including the song, Tow The Line. The earliest recordings on this album stem from his time at Cambridge University in 1968 where he met and performed with fellow student Robert Kirby. In the Spring of 1968, Kirby recorded several of Nicks new songs. Luckily these tapes survived and are now released here. River Man is the only version known to exist without orchestration and is thought to detail Nicks days in Cambridge, whereas Mayfair exists here in its earliest known format, a wry and light hearted view of the London Nick was getting to know.
On leaving Cambridge and entering a recording studio, Nick was writing what was to become his debut album, Five Leaves Left. Joey and Clothes of Sand, both recorded towards the end of 1968, are two songs that never made it onto the album. These two songs plus the alternate version of The Thoughts of Mary Jane previously appeared on the compilation album Time Of No Reply. In early studio sessions Nick used Richard Hewson as an orchestrator, but his unhappiness with the results led him back to colleague Robert Kirby for most future arrangements. By this time the debut album was already too full for Magic and Time Of No Reply so Roberts original arrangements remained on manuscript only. It was to these scores that Robert returned in 2003 and a new original arrangement was recorded. You now hear the song as Nick intended it to be heard.
The melting pot that was Island Records in the late 60s caused many artists to collaborate with each other. Label boss and producer Chris Blackwell was a strong believer in cross-fertilization both in musical styles and personalities. Nick was friends with both John Martyn and Richard Thompson amongst others on the varied roster. In March 1969 Nick found himself in North Londons Morgan Studios a rare departure from Sound Techniques where most of his work was recorded to play a version of Three Hours with the late Reebop Kwaakhu Baah on congas and an unknown flautist.
This version was recorded 2 months before the one that appears on Five Leaves Left. It was discovered on a multi track and is released in a mixed version for the first time. It is longer and more relaxed than its final version almost amounting to a jam session. After the release of the Pink Moon album, Nick returned to the studio to record what was thought to be his last 4 songs Black Eyed Dog, Rider On The Wheel, Voices, and Hanging On A Star. These were hastily mixed and later appeared on the Fruit Tree box set. Hanging On A Star was a newly discovered take of the song with, it was judged, a better vocal; Nick recording voice and guitar separately for the first time. It was during this recent mix that the tape was allowed to run on and Tow The Line made itself known, never having been mixed or, indeed, heard since 1974.
By returning to the team of John Wood and Robert Kirby, and with the full co-operation of Nicks sister Gabrielle, we have, in this release, a companion piece to the three studio albums: Five Leaves Left, Bryter, and Pink Moon.
Made To Love Magic is a fitting addition to the short but all-encompassing canon of work Nick recorded in his few years in the studio.
1. Rider On The Wheel
3. River Man
5. Thoughts Of Mary Jane
7. Hanging On A Star
1. Three Hours
2. Clothes Of Sand
4. Time Of No Reply
5. Black Eyed Dog
6. Tow The Line