Back in 1969, Nick Garrie was a gamin English graduate who chose to travel through France, playing in bars and restaurants, and sleeping on St Tropez beaches. Somehow he built up a wide enough following to entice Lucien Morisse, the mercurial label boss who had discovered Gallic artist Michel Polnareff and made Petula Clark a star in France.
Despite his reservations, Garrie was ensconced in a Paris studio with a 56-piece orchestra. The resulting work, The Nightmare of JB Stanislas, is a majestic confection of baroque orchestration and melodic nous that should have established him alongside The Zombies' later work, if not Brian Wilson's more experimental forays. Alas, Morisse took his own life and the album sank. Garrie struggled on, finding fitful success in Spain and writing with French accordionist Francis Lai. Yet the solo performer could never manage to break through back home. So while keeping his hand in, he opened a ski club, ran a balloon promotions company, and worked as a teacher.
Now Stanislas has been picked up by Spanish indie label Elefant, which for the first time has paired it with Garrie's acoustic demos, in a two-disc package. The artist himself says he gets on with the young and the old, but not those inbetween, which may explain his failure to gain fame, but also his work's beguiling qualities.
'The Nightmare of JB Stanislas' is out on Elefant RecordsReuse content