The distinctive Nick Drake debut is one of the most melancholy albums ever laid down on vinyl. Saying that, if you’ve got a first press you’ll be smiling…
The 1969 UK first press 10-track stereo vinyl LP of Nick Drake’s stunning debut album, Five Leaves Left, was released on Island’s pink ‘block’ label. This label design was short lived, with only two albums having their debut release on this variant, and five other earlier Island releases were repressed using this design, making these albums highly desirable and very rare.
First pressings were housed in a matte gatefold picture sleeve with the lyrics for Three Hours (here titled Sundown), Saturday Sun and River Man printed inside. The Island logo and Basing Street address are printed along the bottom edge on the rear of the sleeve, which only appear on the first-issue sleeve. The second-issue sleeves have a different shade of green on the front, the card is thicker and the rear of the sleeve has just a small ‘i’ logo where the address is printed on the first issues.
Finding original pressings of this album in any condition is virtually impossible. A mint-condition copy could fetch as much as £1,200, but even in ‘very good’ condition it often changes hands for several hundred pounds. Despite being under-appreciated during his short time with us, this, and all of Nick Drake’s work, has gone on to earn the respect it deserves.