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28111Re: [ProgAndOther] Any Bill Nelson fans out there?

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  • all4rains
    Apr 2, 2014
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      I've been a fan of Bill's & Be Bop Deluxe since I saw Be Bop Deluxe play here in Chicago in 1977. IMO, he's one of the most criminally underrated guitarists in Rock & Roll. BBD's "Sunburst Finish" would be one of those "desert island" discs for me. I sort of lost track with him when he was going through his new wave period & Red Noise, but have been listening a lot to his more recent atmospheric stuff & rediscovering a lot due to Bill making more of it available on outlets like Bandcamp & digital downloads. (A lot of his stuff wasn't very easy to find, & much of it went out-of-print not long after Bill released it.) He's a very interesting guy, too. Very Facebook friendly. He released a live DVD a couple of years ago you might enjoy Bob. They crammed a couple dozen lucky fans into a small recording studio with Bill and a crack band, & Bill ran through a bunch of his solo stuff & some very rare versions of BBD rarities. Glad to see there's more fans out there...

      From: "eichler2@..." <eichler2@...>
      To: ProgAndOther@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 9:45 AM
      Subject: [ProgAndOther] Any Bill Nelson fans out there?
      On impulse, I bought an 8 CD retrospective of Bill Nelson's career called "The Practice of Everyday Life".  I'm not sure what made me decide to buy it.  Maybe it was the goofy cover picture of Nelson wearing a rabbit head and playing a huge, cartoonish guitar.

      I first heard of him via the Discipline Global Mobile sampler "Sometimes God Smiles".  It had three or four little snippets of Nelson songs from his (at the time) recent album Atom Shop.  I liked what I heard, so when I found a used copy of "Practically Wired" being sold at ProgDay one year, I grabbed it.  I really liked that album, but that was where it ended...until recently.  The randomizer on my iPod turned up a song called "Acceleration" from an 80s pop compilation CD - I liked the song and was curious who recorded it, and lo and behold it was Bill Nelson.

      So then I did a search for him on Amazon to see if he had a greatest hits CD available and that's when I found this eight disc boxed set.  I'm a sucker for big boxed sets to begin with, but I was curious how this guy I had never heard of could manage an 8 disc retrospective.  So I did some research and it turns out Nelson rivals Frank Zappa for productivity and output - in addition to a half dozen albums with the 70s band Be Bop Deluxe, Nelson has cranked out an average of two or three solo albums a year since the early 80s.  Apparently he spends about ten to twelve hours a day just recording stuff in his home studio.  From reading the liner notes to the boxed set, he usually intends these as demos for when he can get a recording contract and record "polished" versions in a real studio, and when that inevitably fails to happen, he just releases his home recordings as his next album.

      I've only gotten through five of the eight discs so far, but it's an interesting mix of material.  An uncharitable description might be "the poor man's David Bowie", but there are all sorts of influences in there.  The Be Bop Deluxe tracks and early stuff is kind of psychedelic and borderline proggy.  Some of it reminds me of Peter Banks' work with Flash and Empire after he got kicked out of Yes.  Then Nelson went through a new wave phase, big-time.  He started doing soundtrack work and churning out new-agey, atmospheric stuff, and finally seems to have settled into a pattern of alternating the atmospheric/proggy instrumentals with guitar-driven pop music.  He's definitely a very talented guy and a creative composer, but it seems like he could probably use some quality control - it seems like he just records any little idea that comes into his head (many of the tracks are only a minute or two long) and releases it.  Still, a lot of interesting stuff here.

      I was just curious if anyone else on the list had ever heard of him.

        -- Bob

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