Sunday, October 18, 2009

Robert Kirby 1948-2009

I mentioned a while back Harry Robinson's work with Nick Drake and Sandy Denny, but most of Nick Drake's string arrangements were done by Robert Kirby, a fellow Cambridge student when they met.

Times obituary :

At this stage, Kirby’s ambitions in music extended no further than becoming a music teacher at a public school: “doing the choir, a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan,” as he put it many years later to Drake’s biographer, Patrick Humphries. Five Leaves Left was well enough received by the critics but sold abysmally. Yet despite the poor sales, the cheque for his work was sufficiently substantial to persuade Kirby to leave Cambridge and embark upon a full-time career as an arranger. One of his favourite stories concerned a parting shot to one of his disapproving tutors at Cambridge, who told him that his work sounded like a television commercial. “Gosh, as good as that,” was Kirby’s well-aimed response...

Finding it increasingly hard to make a decent living as an arranger, he took up a career in marketing.

I liked the recorders and strings he did for Vashti Bunyan, on whom I blogged here.


Anonymous said...

what a load of crap

Bessie said...

I dunno. My favourite Nick Drake album -- the one I listen to over and over -- is Pink Moon, which is mercifully lacking in string arrangements.

I accept that River Man is lovely, but the guitar-only version on Made to Love Magic holds its own without the strings.

Laban said...

River Man was a Harry Robinson arrangement. I guess I'm a sucker for strings. A lot of people reckon Sandy Denny stuff was ruined by the strings, but I like them - although (as with ND) the songs can stand by themselves.