"Pink Moon" by Nick Drake
A lot of famous musicians died when they were 27, but Nick Drake missed the club by a year, overdosing on a prescribed antidepressant—whether it was suicide or accidental is a debate for the ages—in 1974 at the age of 26. Then again, the English folk-pop specialist was nowhere near famous when he died, having watched his three albums stumble commercially, a fact that exacerbated the depression that eventually killed him. More than 30 years, several celebrity shout-outs, and a Volkswagen commercial later, Drake is one of the most heralded singer-songwriters of all time, partly because of society's interest in depressed cult figures, partly because he didn't live long enough to tarnish his discography, but mostly because he wrote gentle, moody music and poetic lyrics that were beautifully dramatic without being pretentious or clichéd. The Fruit Tree box set was originally issued in 1979 with an odds 'n' sods disc that eventually became Time Of No Reply, but this limited-edition version (10,000 CDs, 2,000 vinyl) features just the three studio albums—his gorgeous 1969 debut, Five Leaves Left, 1970's wonderfully souped-up attempt at attracting a wider audience, Bryter Layter, and 1972's stripped-down Pink Moon—along with the 48-minute documentary A Skin Too Few: The Days Of Nick Drake and a book that includes song-by-song analysis from people who worked with Drake. Fans of Belle And Sebastian, Mark Kozelek, and José González will certainly be impressed, and anyone missing an album or two will appreciate the way Fruit Tree ties things together, making a little more sense of this mythical character.