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Bill Nelson - Getting the Holy Ghost Across

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 14 / 12 / 2013

Bill Nelson - Getting the Holy Ghost Across
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In our Re: view section, in our writers look back at albums from the past, Dave Goodwin examines Bill Nelson's 1986 album 'Getting the Holy Ghost Across' which has recently been repackaged in a new edition

It has been a long time coming but finally, after a mid-80’s issue on LP and cassette and a reissue in 2006 on its creator's own Sonoluxe imprint, Bill Nelson's understated and under-rated foray into wholesome electro radio pop has been repackaged back into its original form and in its entirety. Incredibly and almost echoing reactions to the Beatles and XTC's previous treatment from U.S. extremists, Nelson's seemingly innocent major-label exercise with Mercury ended in 1983 with America practically disowning the guitarist's work on the grounds that it was a party to “occult symbolism”. Their loss. After a string of influential '70s releases as Be Bop Deluxe's lynchpin, Bill Nelson opted to go it alone during the tough 80s, only to be usurped by the likes of (ho hum) other electro-pop artists such as Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw and Marc Almond. He found himself tagged alongside other misfits like Paul Haig, David Sylvian (with whom Nelson guested with in future years, alongside Japan chum Mick Karn) and Gary Numan. Nowadays, performers from this crankiest of decades get lumped in together. Fom the opening ambience of 'Suvasini', into the epic nine-minute sprawl of 'Contemplation' and through the exotic soundscapes of both 'Theology' and single 'Wildest Dreams', it is apparent that Nelson hit creative paydirt. Or certainly should have done. How 'Wildest Dreams', in particular, flopped is an eternal mystery. 'Getting the Holy Ghost Across', which came out initially on the indie label Portrait, is crammed full of potential hits. There are the aforementioned 'Contemplation' (Give it an edit and it would have made the perfect single), 'Age Of Reason', 'Rise Like a Fountain' and the extra tracks that formed the accompanying EP, 'Living for the Spangled Moment'. Its title track is exemplary, 'Heart And Soul' is another champion, and 'Illusions Of You' might well have ridden the then-hip wave of world-music experimentation, if only given the chance. Equally fans of ethereal ambience will revel in tracks like 'Suvasini', 'Feast of Lanterns', 'Nightbirds' and 'Pansophia'. Perhaps across two discs ‘Getting the Holy Ghost Across' might have been cited as pompous and punching above its weight in the mid-'80s when hits, hits and more hits were the done thing and the sartorial requirement of major-labels. In reality, Nelson's oeuvre was at a pinnacle, yet few bothered to take notice. It's time people did take notice. 'Getting The Holy Ghost Across' is a cracking album, and the equal of his Mercury-era pop phase or his later Venture Records release, 'Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars'.

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Bill Nelson - Getting the Holy Ghost Across

Bill Nelson - Getting the Holy Ghost Across

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