The late 1960’s was a fabulous time for original singer-songwriters. Whereas Scott Walker is rightly revered, there’s also rewards to be gained from checking out relatively obscure artists such as Bergen White, Mark Wirtz and Nick Garrie. Garrie was a Yorkshireman whose debut album – not helped by the record label owner committing suicide immediately after its release – has been a collector’s item until its recent reissue.
Clearly, Garrie deserved more fortune as his talent emerges fully formed. It’s there from the lush atmospherics which greet you as the title track begins proceedings. The orchestration is ambitious and colourful, rather like Mark Wirtz’s ‘A Teenage Opera’ soundtrack and many of the songs exude a similar kind of magic.
‘Can I Stay With You’ is a charming, countrified love song full of self-effacing lyrics (“Everything I seem to do is wrong” being the key line) whilst ‘Ink Pot Eyes’ has a similar yearning quality. ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ is embellished by a gorgeous string arrangement, that contrasts nicely with the spare, Nick Drake-like ‘Evening’ . In fact, only the ‘Queen Of Queens’ feels out of place with an ill-advised, Americanised vocal from Garrie.
‘The Nightmare Of JB Stanislas’ is worthy of better status than a rarity. The whole album has an innocent quality, touched by darkness and self-doubt and its clever, imaginative arrangements keep the interest going from start to finish. The bonus tracks also include several acoustic version, which prove that these stripped back songs hold up without the fancy production lending a hand. Happily, Garrie still records to this day and is arguably more popular now than he has ever been.
Nick Garrie MySpace
Bergen White, Mark Wirtz, David Francis