The Compact and Mercurial Bill Nelson Part 1: Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam

February 14th, 2019

Welcome to the wonderful world of Bill Nelson on CD – a small number of CD variants that played fast and loose with running orders, which may either leave you smacking your lips in anticipation of the otherwise unavailable obscurities to be found, or bamboozled at the wrecking of otherwise fine tracklists. Starting with Bill’s first solo release on Mercury records, ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' CDs

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ CDs


Cocteau Records, JC CD 15

The first UK release on CD, dating from 1986, five years in from the original release date. This edition was largely faithful to the original album release tracklisting except for the addition of one extra track, ‘White Sound’, slapped bang in the middle of proceedings and swapping the version of ‘Living In My Limousine’ for the 12″ remix version. The sleeve design also stayed close to home to the original for the front/back, but the inner spread made use of two photos from the same session as used for the ‘Do You Dream In Colour’ single, by the excellent Brian Griffin, sadly uncredited on this release. The inner spread doesn’t attempt to replicate the original so there are no lyrics, but the original credits in hand-written style are preserved.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' Cocteau Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ Cocteau Records CD front cover

‘White Sound’ had been the extra track on the B side of the 12” ‘Living In My Limousine’ single. The sleeve notes of ‘Quit Dreaming…’ make mention that what was on the final album constituted about two thirds of what was recorded for the album in intervals between February and June of 1979. I’m uncertain if there has ever been a definitive list of what the missing material is, though some is easy to assume as being so – some of the B sides from the album’s singles recorded at Rockfield studios, produced by John Leckie or engineered by Ted Sharp for example, seem like prime contenders. These include the three tracks on side B of the ‘Do You Dream In Colour?’ single (‘Ideal Homes’, ‘Instantly Yours’ and ‘Atom Man Loves Radium Girl’), ‘Mr Magnetism Himself’ (B side of 7” and 12” of ‘Banal’), the aforementioned ‘White Sound’ and possibly at least one from the ‘Youth Of Nation On Fire’ double pack single. (There are minimal recording credits on that one – I know that ‘Rooms With Brittle Views’ dates from Autumn 1979 though, from the credits to the Disques du Crepuscule single release of the song – so, ‘Be My Dynamo’ may be a possibility.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

Quite where the tracks recorded at Bill’s then home studio set up of The Echo Observatory fall into this is uncertain – for example, the other two tracks found on the ‘Banal’ 12” for sure and likely others from the other two singles after the album.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' Cocteau Records inner spread

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ Cocteau Records inner spread

The version of ‘Living In My Limousine’ included on the CD is actually the 12″ Remix version, oddly enough. Of the other singles from the album (there were four singles peeled from the album in the end!), all the other remain faithful to the original album versions. Interestingly, the 7″ single edit of ‘Youth Of Nation On Fire’ (which as well as being edited, is also slightly sped up!) and the longer 12″ version of ‘Banal’ have never resurfaced on CD format as yet. Actually, the 7″ Remix of ‘Living In My Limousine’ hasn’t re-appeared as yet either.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' Cocteau Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ Cocteau Records rear case design


Enigma/Cocteau, 7 73385-2 (1989)

Wind forward four years and the US label Enigma embarked on an extensive Bill Nelson re-issue programme, amongst which was an edition of ‘Quit Dreaming…’ that went in for a fairly extensive refit in the songs that were selected for inclusion.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' US Enigma/Cocteau Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records CD front cover

Why so? Well, it’s my theory that key to understanding why so much change took place to the Enigma CD issues of this album and also ‘The Love That Whirls’ lie in the ‘Vistamix’ compilation album from 1984. You see, ‘Vistamix’ basically took the ‘Chimera’ mini album and mixed it in with two tracks apiece from the first two Mercury albums. (‘Do You Dream In Colour’, ‘A Kind of Loving’, ‘Flaming Desire’ and ‘Empire Of The Senses’.)

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' US Enigma/ Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ US Enigma/ Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

This would help to explain why those tracks are missing from the Enigma CDs and replaced instead by an odd selection of tracks in their place. In the case of ‘Quit Dreaming…’ these further blur what ‘belongs’ to the originally envisioned album listing mentioned above, since the tracks drafted in both date from a 1983 EP given away as part of Bill’s Acquitted By Mirrors fan club subscription, the tracks in question being ‘Indiscretion’ (titled ‘Indescretion’ on the sleeve here) and ‘The World And His Wife’.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert front

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert front

‘Indiscretion’ would later appear on the ‘Practice Of Everyday Life’ box set in 2011, but other than this CD, ‘The World And His Wife’ Remains otherwise unavailable except the original 7” vinyl EP.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert rear

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert rear

Otherwise, the tracks from the original album remain as they were from the UK vinyl release, including ‘Living In My Limousine’. The packaging goes one better than the UK CD version by also miniaturising the lyrics, even rendering the extra tracks in similar script to the rest – nice work, even if you do really need to get the magnifying glass out to read it all.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' US Enigma/Cocteau Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records rear case design


Mercury Records

2005 saw a long overdue re-issue of the album on CD in the UK, appending no fewer than 8 extra tracks along for the ride, with a particular emphasis on the packaging – themed artwork to the original and extensive sleeve notes, alongside the lyrics too.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD front cover

As nice as it was to have extra tracks, inevitably given the prolific nature of Bill and his recording, it is just scratching the surface of what’s available. Think about it – there were four singles released from the album and each of those four had three non-LP tracks alongside them – it’s a whole other album really.

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD label design

What we did get as extras was one track form the B side of the ‘Banal’ single (‘Mr Magnetism Himself’) plus all of the B sides from ‘Youth Of Nation On Fire’ and all of the B sides from ‘Living In My Limousine’ – and the 12″ Remix of the latter for good measure too. No room at the inn for any of the B sides from ‘Do You Dream In Colour’ though. It is worth noting that in line with other issues of ‘Rooms With Brittle Views’ on CD, this once again misses off the original kick drum beat intro that was present on the original vinyl singles – going straight into the guitar part instead.

^ Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 1

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 1

Text

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 2

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 2

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 3

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 3

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 4

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 4

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 5

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 5

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 6

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 6

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 7

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 7

Bill Nelson 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' UK Mercury Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ UK Mercury Records rear case design

Imagining that someday there could ever be a further reissue and that it may be expanded to a double disc edition, what all might be included? If we assume that disc 1 is reserved for the album as originally released back in 1981 on Mercury, that provides the following as a possible disc 2 selection?;

Single Versions:

Banal (Long Version)
Youth Of Nation On Fire (7″ Version)
Living In My Limousine (7″ Remix)
Living In My Limousine (12″ Remix)

B Sides and period pieces:

Ideal Homes
Instantly Yours
Atom Man Loves Radium Girl
Turn To Fiction
Hers Is A Lush Situation
Mr Magnetism Himself
Be My Dynamo
Rooms With Brittle Views
All My Wives Were Iron
White Sound
Birds Of Tin
Love In The Abstract
Dada Guitare
Indiscretion
The World And His Wife
Tony Goes to Tokyo (and Rides the Bullet Train) (as The Revox Cadets)

Bill has also mentioned that there was a mix of the track made airplay that removed the ‘video junkie looking for a fix’ reference, but I have yet to come across that on my travels.

Last but not least – no mention of ‘Sounding The Ritual Echo’ here, which of course came packaged with ‘Quit Dreaming…’ on its original release. Goodness, that would take this up to a three disc set at least! A box set perhaps? Well, Bill has always been fond of them!

Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire UK 7″ and 12″ and 7″ Promo [Mercury WILL5 / WILL 512 / WILL D 5

January 28th, 2019

Flaming Desire (4’55”) – LP and UK 7″ single

Flaming Desire (Long Version) (6’22”) – UK 12″ single and US/Canada ‘Flaming Desire and Other Passions’ mini-album

Flaming Desire (3’26”) – UK Promo-only 7″ single, US ‘A Half Nelson’ 12″ Promo EP, Canadian 7″ single


A highlight track on what is already far and away one of Bill Nelson’s finest albums, ‘Flaming Desire’ tapped into the spirit of the times with a largely synthesized vibe, propelled by snappy, high voltage electronic percussion and rhythm box work and showcasing Nelson’s e-bow skills to fashion the guitar nearer the keyboard driven shapes of the song.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 7" (front) and 12" sleeve designs

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 7″ (front) and 12″ sleeve designs

It wasn’t the hit single it should have been, sadly, but it did have a high profile courtesy of the black and white promo video produced to accompany it. I first came across that in 1983 on the BBC’s Monday night ‘Riverside’ arts programme, where Bill was interviewed by an up and coming Mariella Frostrup.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 7" (front) sleeve design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 7″ (front) sleeve design

The UK 7″ followed the version of the song as featured on the ‘Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)’ album, at the 4’55” approx. mark. The 12″ version benefitted from a longer take on the song, at 6’22” approx – this gave even more space for the e-bow trickery to spread out and take its time across the latter half of the track. Perhaps because it never did become a ‘hit’, though certainly well enough known to merit it, it has only occasionally been featured on various artist compilation albums and in particular, the 12″ Long Version could so easily have been a prime contender on any one of the many ‘12″ 80s’ genre collections that all too often go for the obvious choices (or worse still feature supposed 12″ mixes no different from the normal takes). But the Long Version remains only available on vinyl for now – the UK 12″ release (Mercury WILL512), the US ‘Flaming Desire and Other Passions’ mini album (PVC PVC5901) and also the Canadian edition (Passport Records PL 3004).

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 7" (rear) sleeve design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 7″ (rear) sleeve design

A couple of Bill’s compilation albums have also featured the track, such as ‘Vistamix’ and ‘Duplex – The Best Of Bill Nelson’, but these have stuck with the regular LP/7″ version, not the longer take and the later ‘Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)’ CD reissue devoted its extra tracks to some period B sides and the remixed take on ‘Hope For The Heartbeat’. (On ‘Duplex – The Best Of Bill Nelson’ – the discogs.com listing for the CD gives a longer timing, but when I went back and checked my owncopy of the CD it was just the regular 4’55” version.)

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 7" Side A label design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 7″ Side A label design

Equally missing in action from a digital re-release is the shorter edit of the song, which snuck out mainly on promo releases and a Canadian 7″ single. This trimmed the track down to a far briefer 3’26” mark. In the UK it appeared on a promo-only single (Mercury WILL D 5), while the US territories saw it as the lead track on the ‘A Half Nelson’ promo 12″ EP (PVC EP1). The one place the edit version does seem to have received a commercial release appears to be Canada, where a 7″ of Flaming Desire and Hope For The Heartbeat was released on Passport Records ‎(PS 504) – I have yet to come across this release.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 7" Side A label design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 7″ Side B label design

As well as the superb A side, the B sides kept the quality high too. The UK 7″ features the instrumental ‘The Passion’, channeling something of a futuristic Spaghetti Western to its atmosphere. The UK 12″ edition added ‘The Burning Question’ on side two. This is a long, synth-driven track with an air of the mysterious – built on a similar Roland rhythm box backbeat a la Flaming Desire but coloured with marimba and saxophone in addition to the synth and e-bow guitar textures, Nelson’s familiar vocal stylings atop it all.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 12" (front) sleeve design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 12″ (front) sleeve design

Both B sides would have fitted in well on the parent album and it comes as a surprise now taking stock and looking back to realise how infrequently this track has appeared on CD. There was no room at the inn on the 2005 UK Mercury records re-release of ‘The Love That Whirls’ for it it, sadly. It can be tracked down on the US and UK CD releases of the ‘The Two-Fold Aspect Of Everything’ compilation, but neither of these are easy to come by.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 12" (rear) sleeve design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 12″ (rear) sleeve design

Really, ‘The Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)’ is crying out for double CD re-issue that goes beyond what 2005’s edition offered. As we have seen here, there is scope to add the Long Version and promo 7″ edit of ‘Flaming Desire’, ‘The Burning Question’ and also the 7″ re-recording of ‘Eros Arriving’.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 12" Side A label design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 12″ Side A label design

On the latter, a recent compilation CD, ‘Videosyncratic (A Taste Of Synth Pop)’ (Own Label/UMC 0600753855010) on the Sainsbury’s supermarket own label, has a good selection of tracks, compiled by Bob Stanley. It purports to include the 7″ version, but, on the CD version at least, it turns out to be the regular LP mix. Once again, to find the 7′ re-recording on CD format it is back to hunting down scarce CD copies of ‘The Two-fold Aspect Of Everything’.

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire 12" Side B label design

^ Bill Nelson – Flaming Desire 12″ Side B label design

In fact, the history of ‘The Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)’ on CD has been a rather complicated story and one which deserves its own article to unpick, but that’s for another time.

Bill Nelson 'Flaming Desire' UK Promo 7" label

^ Bill Nelson ‘Flaming Desire’ UK Promo 7″ label

Tones On Tail – ‘Tones On Tail’ EP (4AD, BAD203, 1982)

January 14th, 2019

The first 12″ EP release by Tones On Tail, at the time very much the prime focus was shining on Daniel Ash as a solo project from the day job with Bauhaus. The record itself has an interesting history in that respect, with ‘Copper’ having its roots in Bauhaus, but the mix of input from both Ash and fellow Tones collaborator, Glenn Campling, who was famously at this point involved in Bauhaus in the capacity of their road crew, brings a richer variety to it all. Campling’s basslines are somewhat unique on ‘A Bigger Splash’ and ‘Means of Escape’, while the record also showcases some lower end of the market rhythm boxes, long before the arrival of Kevin Haskins to the drum stool in Tones On Tail. The record also established two elements that would become definitive Tones On Tail, the moody and mysterious cover painting and the use of Caslon Antique for the band logo.

Tones on Tail EP front cover design

^ Tones on Tail EP front cover design


Read the rest of this entry »

Love and Rockets – ‘Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven’ on CD – UPDATE

November 30th, 2018

With this post I’m going to look at the various releases on CD of ‘Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven’, the debut album by Love and Rockets, released in Late 1985 and a particular favourite of mine through the years – and specifically digging about at the various different mixes of some of its tracks and bonus tracks which were added to the numerous CD issues. This updated post adds a few additional points that have become known since the original post, mostly thanks to the wonderful comments left by well-informed readers of this blog – thank you! In short, these are a slight edit to ‘The Game’ on the US version of the album and the US 12″ promo version of ‘Dog End of a Day Gone By’ being a unique mix that is not simply an edit of the US album remix.

Original UK CD (front)

^ Original UK CD (front)

Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Jobson – ‘No Bad Words 1977-2017’ book (Bracket Press, 2018)

November 30th, 2018

This wonderful little book appeared earlier this year – these photos give a flavour of the hardback edition.

Richard Jobson 'No Bad Words 1977-2017' first edition hard back paper bag cover

^ Richard Jobson ‘No Bad Words 1977-2017’ first edition hard back paper bag cover

Read the rest of this entry »