40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. 2xCD tall digipak. 44 page booklet.
“The Nightmare of J B Stanislas” could be the last cursed disc in history. Now that it’s celebrating the 40th anniversary of its release, we can also celebrate the fact that Nick Garrie, the disc’s author, has finally begun to receive all the recognition he deserves. First, through those album tributes that the Scottish music scene toasted him with, which got together with him to help him record “49 Arlington Gardens”, his last album, which was released in 2008, with Duglas T. Stewart (BMX BANDITS), Norman Blake (TEENAGE FUNCLUB) and Ally Kerr, among many others. But also because so many artists have raised their voices to call attention to one of the most interesting, as well as one of the most unfairly forgotten songwriters of the last century. Which is how CAMERA OBSCURA recruited him to open their London concert in Shepherd’s Bush Empire in the biggest way possible, and why musicians like Gary Olson of LADYBUG TRANSISTOR, the very Tracyanne Campbell, PYGMY and Guille Milkyway (LA CASA AZUL), have expressed their deepest admiration for this British singer-songwriter, whose fame reaches from Japan to the United States, where the elegies have been unstoppable. Stanislas will finally see the light after 40 years of darkness, and the news is spreading like wildfire.
Compared by critics, a posteriori, with other historical discs from that era like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” by THE BEATLES and “Smile” by THE BEACH BOYS, the songs from that disc, which Rev-Ola and Wah Wah re-released in 2005, continue to be one of the best kept secrets in the history of music, and the legend it keeps within its notes is one of the most passionate legends ever told.
The story is that of a young Englishman who spent the better part of his youth wandering around France, playing in bars and restaurants and sleeping on the beaches of Saint Tropez. Little by little he gets a small number of followers, one of whom recorded a little acoustic demo for him in 1968. A year later, that demo finds its way into the hands of the record label DiscAZ (also home to artists like Brigitte Bardot, Francis Lai and Michael Polnareff). With only hearing “Deeper Tones of Blue” the deal is closed. The person in charge of producing the disc is Eddie Vartan (Sylvie Vartan’s brother, and an important representative of the French rock scene), who enlists the help of a 56-musician orchestra (among whom some of the usual players on Johnny Hallyday’s tours are found) to record the disc in the Davou studios in Paris. Garrie, an acoustic lover at heart, distances himself from Vartan’s excessive arrangements, but in the end only the finale “Evening” remains as its composer wanted, with only a trumpet as backup. This standoff between the songwriter and the producer is one of the keys to “The Nightmare of J B Stanislas”.
The release date is set for 1970, but just when the disc should be released, Lucien Morisse, head of DiscAZ and the project’s principal promoter, commits suicide, and as a result the album is left without a godfather and without a promotions plan. Only a few copies were sold; just enough so that the album, over the years, became a collector’s item, reaching sales prices of more than 1,200 euros, to the point that Billboard classified it as “one of the strangest psychedelic pop albums from the late sixties”. Not even his family and friends knew about the album until many years later.
But, what is most important is that today we can recover such a tremendously beautiful disc, which is now considered a vital piece of baroque-pop, lightly refreshed with a psychedelic base, and with lyrics that at times border surrealism, and give the album that halo of mystery that precedes it and that increased the fame of its curse among those few who were able to get a copy of it in the period after its release. The album impresses with arrangements that are voluptuous and, at times, disturbing, that move from exquisitely melodic to surprisingly complex. It cherishes the elegant vocals and melodies of Garrie at the same time as the voluptuous fantasy of Vartan’s scores, taking some place between Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and Tim Buckley. The excitement contained in “Deeper Tones Of Blue”, the sweetness of “Can I Stay with You”, the pop perfection of “The Nightmare of J B Stanislas”, the imaginative details of songs like “Ink Pot Eyes” and “The Wanderer” or the powerful “Wheel of Fortune” mark some of the many decisive moments of an album that remained hidden in those remote corners that the music industry likes so much to create, until it became, like an artisan process of wine fermentation, the masterpiece that today, fortunately, we can enjoy.
40 years later, and after having been brought back to life with the gem that is “49 Arlington Gardens”, the time has come to give “The Nightmare of J B Stanislas” the recognition it deserves, with a suitable re-release. Not only for the possibility of enjoying the marvelous body of work on the first CD, that inimitable piece that was supposed to change the history of music and that had to conform itself with changing the lives of those lucky few who have been able to enjoy it, but also because the second CD included in this luxurious edition really gives the listener the necessary perspective to analyze and enjoy how eternal and incomparable this album is. This recovery is almost unprecedented: it includes songs that made it possible for that demo to open the doors to AZ Records, and on which you can perfectly appreciate the force with which he was capable of playing songs that, in their barest format, already aimed high, and now is the time to try it with “Deeper Tones of Blue” and “Stanislas”. His first single, released before the album, and which was also on the French label with the psychedelic “Queen of Spades” and the marvelously sweet “Close Your Eyes”, produced by Mickey Baker, one of the movers of rock n’ roll of the 50’s, resurfaces. Three songs are recovered that were recorded in Portugal in 2002, on a trip where the British singer-songwriter found new sources of inspiration, and uses the almost completely acoustic format that he so longed for on his debut, on songs like “Wine and Roses” and “Love in My Eyes”, which was written with Francis Lai, someone he has collaborated with on various occasions over the last few years (Francis Lai won an Oscar for “Love Story” and is also responsible, among other soundtracks, for “A Man and A Woman”, Live for Life”, “Bilitis”, “Dark Eyes”, and “Emmanuelle”). And finally, pay attention, “The Cuts”, that is, three lost tracks from the “The Nightmare of J B Stanislas” era that were never recorded or released, plus a version of “Que Será, Será”, one of Nick’s mother’s favorite songs, that Nick recorded for the occasion in Glasgow’s “Riverside” studios with the collaboration of the Scottish super team, headed by Duglas T. Stewart and Duncan Cameron as the sound engineer (DELGADOS, TRAVIS, TRASHCAN SINATRAS). A fifth song finishes “The Cuts”, the precious and bare “Josefina”, recorded in French, this time again in Portugal, this past April, 2009. All of this with an incredible 42-page book in which, included with every last detail, we can enjoy the lyrics and especially, a marvelous story by Garrie himself about his own life.
This gives shape to a definitive edition that settles all necessary accounts, with every last detail carefully dealt with. It shows the celestial state of inspiration that Garrie enjoyed during his years of youth and freedom, and which establishes a required justice for a figure that, starting now, or even starting yesterday, we need to demand a lot of, because of the incredible and genius music he makes, because of the living legend that, I can assure you, is really passionate and exciting, and because of the all the wasted time we urgently need to make up for.
A necessary recovery, a rebirth, full stop. Nick Garrie is definitively back, and will never leave again, and here at Elefant Records we are deeply proud to be witnesses. Maybe “The Nightmare of J B Stanislas” can be the last cursed disc. Because this cared-for double release that celebrates its 40th anniversary has come to put it where it deserves to be.
Tracklist: CD1 - THE NIGHTMARE OF J.B. STANISLAS - 1. The nightmare of J.B. Stanislas 2. Can I stay with you 3. Bungles tours 4. David’s prayer 5. Ink pot eyes 6. The wanderer 7. Stephanie city 8. Little bird 9. Deeper tones of blue 10. Queen of queens 11. Wheel of fortune 12. Evening
CD2 - THE CUTS - 1. Seashore 2. Josefina 3. St. Tropez whore 4. Three old men 5. Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be) LOST AND FOUND - 6. Summer nights 7. Wine and roses 8. Love in my eyes 9. Queen of spades [First single 1968] 10. Close your eyes [First single 1968] 11. Cambridge town [demo 1968] 12. Stone and silk [demo 1968] 13. Bungles tours [demo 1968] 14. Deeper tones of blue [demo 1968] 15. Little bird [demo 1968] 16. Stanislas [demo 1968] 17. Evening [demo 1968]