Nostalgia works in funny ways – it pulls you in at the weirdest times. I knew Boris Gardiner by fluke. One day in the library I saw a CD called Every Nigger Is A Star. It is the soundtrack to a film I haven’t seen. I took the CD home o check it out – the cover screamed James Brown and Sly Stone and Curtis Mayfield to me – but apparently it was reggae. Well, yes, I was both. In fact if Sly & The Family Stone had been called in to record the score for The Harder They Fall it might have ended up sounding like this.
I love this album. And I return to it often. And I used to often drop a track from it in a DJ set.
So, of course I do some digging into Boris Gardiner, hear a few other early tunes – his soulful voice, a journeyman. Great reggae and soul singer.
And I think nothing more of it really.
Until I start seeing this album Everything To Me in bargain bins. But not $1. It’s always $5 to $10. But it’s in every second record store. And it’s always there. Sometimes two or three copies.
Eventually I take the plunge. I go on a big reggae kick during lockdown and order a bunch of Marley LPs and a few other compilations. And then when we’re allowed back out in the world I start collecting up a few reggae records on my return to the stores. Mostly 70s stuff. That’s my era. But the 80s tunes that hit big on the pop charts do hold a bit of their nostalgic glue. I was into Azwad and Amazulu and Ziggy Marley and many things between those letter in the alphabet too.
So I decide that maybe Boris Gardiner’s pretty cheesy-looking 80s album might have something on it for me.
And then I drop the needle. And it’s okay. But not great. I can see why it’s regularly available and affordably priced, put it that way.
Then middle of the album I’m hit. I Want To Wake Up With You.
This is a song I know. But a song I’d forgotten that I know. If you know what I mean. It was huge in my life. I asasociate it with the beach at summer – Clifton Beach. I associate it with the radio in Hawke’s Bay in the 1980s. I line it up with Toots’ Beautiful Woman and Bob Dylan’s songs with Sly & Robbie (Tight Connection To My Heart, Jokerman etc) and most definitely with Prince Tui Teka and Sonny Day. In fact I Want To Wake Up With You is so close in my heart to E Ipo. And it’s weird how this happens – because I could be manufacturing a part of this memory. But it hits me. It digs in deep. And I know that the song is a bit of cheap trash by the way. But I also just love it. And so I stick with the album as a result.
And look, it’s not strong. It’s not great. It’s certainly a million miles from the sound of his Every Nigger album – which is incredible, regardless of how you feel about its title.
But it is a type of comfort-music. In much the same way that I know that Sensitive To A Smile-era Herbs is not as “important” or “good” as French Letter-era Herbs. But I can still love both. And so now I love this Boris Gardiner album. Just like I love the one with the triggering title.
Nostalgia works in funny ways.
Shit That’s Good! Crap Albums I Love is an occasional series here at Off The Tracks