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Bill Nelson - Iconography

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 31 / 7 / 2013



Bill Nelson - Iconography
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A

intro

Dave Goodwin examines former Be Bp Deluxe guitarist and experimental musician Bill Nelson's 1986 album 'Iconography', which has just been re-released


My first introduction to Bill Nelson came when I was given an EP of his as part of a Christmas present by my stepbrother, and then Radio Trent Northern Soul DJ and owner of Arcade Records, which was in the West End Arcade in Nottingham. My stepbrother gave me a copy of 'Savage Gestures for Charm's Sake', which included the brilliant 'Another Happy Thought(Carved Forever in your Cortex)'. It was forever on and off the turntable in my room along with things like the Ruts' 'Babylon's Burning' and 'The Specials' which helped to totally confuse my parents. The music on it was recorded just two or three years before this album 'Iconography' which compiles together recordings from 1984/85. Bill Nelson himself was born on the 18th of December 1948 in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. As well as being an influential guitarist, he is also a songwriter, producer, painter and experimental musician. He went to Wakefield College of Art, where he became interested in the work of poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. He was also a member of 70's band Be Bop Deluxe, which caught the eye of John Peel who also raved about Nelson's debut 1971 solo album 'Northern Dream'. Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bill Nelson self-produced on his own Cocteau label a large quantity of releases. Built around solo synthesizer and keyboard instrumental pieces, many were later released on the short-lived Enigma label. After brief liaisons with Gary Numan and David Sylvian in the 1980s Nelson suffered a string of life changing events, including divorce, tax problems, and an acrimonious dispute with his manager over his back catalogue after Nelson discovered his manager had been selling copies of his recordings by mail order without his knowledge. Nelson himself remarks on the sleevenotes to the re-release of this album that he was "struck how fresh they still sound." In an 1980's driven 2013, it is easy to see why. He describes them as "lo-fi" and "little signals from an analogue world." This is a generous and healthy dive into the past where Nelson at the time was not so vastly known. When you listen to the tracks on this and listen to some of the other sounds of that era, it is plain to see that Nelson was way ahead of his peers if not as popular. 'Iconography' is riddled with all kinds of sampling, and is complimented by the easy beats and dance/pop bumpings more akin to PWL a few years later. No wonder he was so influential to many other artists. 'Clock Conscious' and 'Right, Then Left' are wonderful examples. The whole of 'Iconography' is a sign of the times when there was so much experimental stuff being done that was way ahead of its time. It is hard to pick out any individual track to note when each one is as strong as the other. The album cover is covered in a montage of Terry Gilliam type randoms, and inside the booklet are some iconic Bill Nelson pictures and a passage from the man himself describing the time and moments. Every 80's buff should own one. Marvellous!



Track Listing:-


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/bill.nelson.guitar
http://www.billnelson.com/home.php
https://twitter.com/billnelsonmusic


Picture Gallery:-
Bill Nelson - Iconography


Bill Nelson - Iconography



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