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Scott Appel

Several solo artists have copied or cloned the sound of the late, great British folk icon, NICK DRAKE, but few have been given the artistic right to recreate his works and sound. Born March 3, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in northern New Jersey, singer/guitarist APPEL – whose early influences included BERT JANSCH and DAVY GRAHAM – achieved his unique ambitions by corresponding with DRAKE’s parents, Rodney and Molly Drake. After leaving Boston’s Berklee School of Music in the early 70s, Scott found nocturnal part-time work performing anywhere he could (even in a LED ZEPPELIN tribute act), while during daytime he would teach guitar.
With his technical knowledge stretching to the playing of blacktop bottleneck guitar, APPEL issued his Celtic-folk/swing debut, GLASSFINGER (1985) {*6}, for the California-based Kicking Mule stable. With tracks like `Haste To The Wedding’, GORDON LIGHTFOOT’s `If You Could Read My Mind’ and the sombre `Meshes Of The Afternoon’ (inspired by a cult Maya Deren movie) up for grabs, the LP received decent reviews. It awaits a CD release.
After listening to NICK DRAKE’s import collection, `Fruit Tree’, the bearded Scott took it on himself to indulge in the late singer’s odd fret tunings and styling. NINE OF SWORDS {*7}, was finally released in 1989, a truly inspirational set, snatching the legacy of DRAKE, while painting his own interpretative, funereal landscapes. Exhuming old attic DRAKE recordings such as `Bird Flew By’, `Blossom’, `Our Season’, `Place To Be’, `Parasite’ and the collaborative mix ‘n’ match, `Far Leys’, APPEL championed the cause to celebrate the tortured genius’s life. Apart from a traditional working of `Spencer The Rover’ and Phil Colclough’s `Song For Ireland’, the remainder of the LP was down to just APPEL himself (plus guest session musicians: Chris McNally, Brian Cantazaro, Bill Greenberg, Tim Solook and Don Sternecker). Melancholy, moody, but uplifting and joyous, the talented guitarist shone in his own right via instrumentals, `Blur’, `Nearby’, `Silent Snow’, `Thanatopsis’ and the title track.
For fans of APPEL, or even his hero NICK DRAKE, the man subsequently featured (two songs `From The Morning’ and `Hazey Jane’) on the bedsit bard’s tribute set `Brittle Days’ (1992), issued on Imaginary Records. Finally, Scott’s third and best set PARHELION (1998) {*8} was released – credited to SCOTT APPEL to the power of 3. In fact, it was more than a coincidence there were three DRAKE tracks on show, `Brittle Days’, `Hazey Jane’ and `Road’ (three covers by way of STEVE MILLER’s `Love’s Riddle’, FAIRPORT CONVENTION’s `Walk Awhile’ and MOBY GRAPE’s `8.05’), but winding up the listener into the present day was Scott’s own masterpieces, `Let All The Clocks Stop’, `Winter Light’ and `Just Lately’ – all truly golden and delicious.
Tragically, on March 11, 2003, just days after his 49th birthday, SCOTT T. APPEL succumbed to the heart disease that had blighted and curtailed his sparse but outstanding musical career.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Apr2015

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