The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas (2LP)
"Occasionally, a work of art falls into your hands with such a bizarre backstory, you just have to run with it. The implausible origins of Nick Garrie’s folk-pop album The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas require just such a leap of faith. The Englishman recorded his masterpiece in France at the tender age of nineteen. The year was 1968 and Garrie felt ill at ease with the lavish arrangements accompanying his songs (beautiful as they may sound to our ears today). Worse still, the label owner committed suicide and the record virtually disappeared without trace – until it resurfaced in 2005. Our own release now includes numerous bonus tracks, rare photograph and extensive liner notes." - Label press release
"Someone discovered gold in California in 1848. And then everybody went in search of the mother lode. Oddly enough, the same thing happened when somebody else decided to use (of all things!) Nick Drake’s long forgotten song Pink Moon for a Volkswagen commercial. And it came to pass that record stores were suddenly filled with requests for that “Pink Moon Volkswagen song.” Apparently, there was gold in them thar undiscovered singer-songwriters from the dusty vaults of undiscovered singer-songwriters. And, once again, everybody went in search of treasure, this time of the vinyl variety. Suddenly, the great (and also long forgotten) Bill Fay hit record shop hip currency. And Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day stirred folk interest. The search for gold was ripe in the singer-songwriter universe.
Sure, there are plenty of lesser talent pyrite albums re-issued and advertised as lost classics, but thankfully, Nick Garrie’s brilliant The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas was found and released on the Rev-Ola label in 2005. Those of us who eagerly sought undiscovered singer-songwriters bit at the bobber and found, yeah, another hidden gemstone of a late 60’s Baroque folk-pop goldmine. Oh my, this is a beautiful album.
The title tune, The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas, simply oozes and yearns its way through sweeping strings, a wondrous melody, and Nick’s earnest vocals. Quite frankly, the song is very much in step with Procol Harum’s early Whiter Shade of Pale sound. The lyrics recall Keith Reid’s weird, tangential, (sort of) symbolic, and existential combination of words. And Nick’s voice hovers somewhere between Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher’s sound.
The melodies persist (even after all these years) in their beauty. Flutes announce Can I Stay With You. And even more strings frame the tune that pleads with both time and love. David’s Prayer has the beauteous fecund dream of a lovely Luddite lullaby coupled to the Romantic gist of a Wordsworth ode to nature. (Or something like that!) It’s a sublime tune, and does indeed, in its own way, “wander lonely as a cloud.” As does Ink Pot Eyes, which explodes in heavenly slide guitar and infectious ecstasy. There’s more flute as The Wanderer sounds like a huge folk hit from the 60’s. Glenn Campbell’s excellent singles come to mind.
Now, it’s important to note that the sound of this re-issue far surpasses the 2005 Rev-Ola release. The orchestrated bits warm these old grooves with much more passion. And there are acoustic sounds from guitars and pianos that just weren’t elevated into the mix in the earlier version. This brand-new Tapete remaster (Elefant Spain did a 40th anniversary release in 2010) weeps with a deeper sonic depth." - Bill Golembeski
Cat. number: TR437