The Compact and Mercurial Bill Nelson Part 2: The Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)

Welcome back to the second part of our look at 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 ball taken to otherwise fine original tracklists. We already looked at Bill’s first solo release on Mercury records, ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ – now, we move on to his second, ‘The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart)’.

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' CDs

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ CDs


Cocteau Records, JC CD 16 (1986)

The first UK release on CD for ‘The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart)’, released 25th July 1986 (along with ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’) four years on from the original release date, under the ‘Cocteau Collectors’ imprint/series. From the off, this edition played around with the original running order by landing two period B sides in the middle of the running order. ‘Flesh’ and ‘He and Sleep Were Brothers’ (both originally hailing from the ‘Eros Arriving’ double-pack 7″ single) were placed in the space between the original side 1 and side 2 of the vinyl album. On top of this a further change was made by swapping in a remix of ‘Hope for the Heartbeat’ in place of the original vinyl LP version of the song. The remix adds in an additional oriental sounding synth melody as well as a prominent additional layer of electronic percussion not a million miles away from that used by Gary Numan on ‘Cars’ – and the harmony vocals toward the end of the track seem to be boosted in volume too.

The sleeve design on the front remained faithful to the to the original, though the thin, standard-issue gloss paper came nowhere near to reproducing the deluxe feel of the original LP’s textured high-gloss finish. The remainder of the layout preserved elements from the original and also introduced a whole new Bill Nelson photo from the same photo shoot as used for the front cover, this time on the rear of the insert. The photo of Bill fetchingly signing his name writ large, originally from the LP’s inner sleeve, was used for the rear case design. CD label was a standard-issue of the period plain silver affair.

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' Cocteau Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ Cocteau Records CD front cover

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ Cocteau Records rear cover and CD label design

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' Cocteau Records inner spread

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ Cocteau Records inner spread

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' Cocteau Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ Cocteau Records rear case design


Enigma/Cocteau, 7 73386-2 (1989)

By 1989, the US label Enigma had embarked on a Bill Nelson re-issue programme of some breadth and naturally ‘The Love That Whirls’ was principle amongst the releases, but not before a good deal of refitting had taken place, markedly altering the make-up of the album from its original form.

My article on ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ speculated on why the 1989 Enigma CD running orders for that album and this one left off some fairly important original tracks – namely, that they had already been released in the US on the ‘Vistamix’ compilation on Portrait records and therefore, not wanting to duplicate previous releases, some substitutions took place. On this CD, that mean that ‘Empire Of The Senses’ and ‘Flaming Desire’ were dropped, to make way for ‘When The Birds Return’ (originally part of a 1982 Cocteau ‘Acquitted By Mirrors’ fan club 7″ EP, later on the ‘The Two-fold Aspect Of Everything’ compilation) and ‘Dancing On A Knife’s Edge’ (only ever otherwise released as the lead track on a 1983 ‘Acquitted by Mirrors’ fan club 7″ EP). The other major change should have been the remix version of ‘Hope For The Heartbeat’ – the packaging lists it as being the remix but the CD itself contains the regular album mix.

The packaging followed the path set by the 1986 Cocteau re-issue, though a unique picture label design was used focussing on the statue from the front cover photo, while a marketing card listing the other Bill Nelson reissues in Enigma, ‘The History Of an Alchemist’, was also included.

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' US Enigma/Cocteau Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records CD front cover

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert front

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert front

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert rear

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records insert rear

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' US Enigma/ Cocteau Records CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ US Enigma/ Cocteau Records CD label design

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' US Enigma/Cocteau Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ US Enigma/Cocteau Records rear case design

Enigma Records Bill Nelson 'History of an Alchemist' marketing card that accompanied the Enigma release of 'The Love That Whirls'

^ Enigma Records Bill Nelson ‘History of an Alchemist’ marketing card that accompanied the Enigma release of ‘The Love That Whirls’


Mercury Records, 9831026 (2005)

Having been out of print for many years after the demise of both Cocteau records and Enigma, the album became sought after on CD in either variant, commanding high prices at times on the second-hand market (quite common for Bill Nelson releases). 2005 finally brought forward a re-issue of the album on CD in the UK, from Universal, under the Mercury label imprint, as per the original UK release, with several extra tracks added bringing the total number of tracks included up to 17. In some attempt to keep things happy for those raised on the original CD releases, ‘Flesh’ and ‘He and Sleep Were Brothers’ were left placed bang in the middle of the original LP running order, while three extra tracks also appeared at the end. The first of these was ‘Haunting In My Head’, the B side of ‘Eros Arriving’, while ‘Hope For The Heartbeat (Remix)’ was included here at the end, since the original LP mix had been restored earlier in the running order. The CD ends with one of the B sides from the ‘Flaming Desire’ single, ‘The Passion’, a fabulous instrumental coming across in some kind of electronic spaghetti western vein.

Sadly, that meant there were some obvious candidates missing in action and unaccounted for on this release, chief amongst these being the other B side from ‘Flaming Desire’ the wonderfully noir and mysteriously hypnotic ‘The Burning Question’ and also the single version of ‘Eros Arriving’, with its radically wider-screen sound palette boosted by the drums of Merrick, aka Chris Hughes, who co-produced this glorious version alongside Bill Nelson. Other contenders for inclusion would surely be the extended 12″ mix of ‘Flaming Desire’ (and also the DJ-only promo edit of the song too, for the sake of completeness), plus the tracks that had featured on the US Enigma CD, namely ‘When The Birds Return’ and ‘Dancing On A Knife’s Edge’. This might depend on how purist you are on whether they should have been there or not I suppose, since their sound is very much of the home studio variety by comparison to the original albums high-gloss fine lines. ‘When The Birds Return’ clearly has much in common with the overall sound of the album, though very much more aligned to much of what can be heard across the ‘Trial By Intimacy’ box set. ‘Dancing On A Knife’s Edge’ is a far lighter, oriental-tinged almost soulful pop affair that is less of a fit with the album. More in keeping with ‘Chimera’/‘Getting The Holy Ghost’ pieces perhaps. In plundering the archives a much better fit might have been to choose ‘Love Without Fear’, its drum machine foundations from the same universe as ‘Flaming Desire’, ‘The Burning Question’, et al. This way at least we got to hear ‘Dancing On A Knife’s Edge’ digitally though.

Just like the accompanying ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ in the same series, much attention was lavished on restoring and enhancing the packaging, with themed artwork complementary to the original release alongside extensive sleeve notes and lyrics. The ‘Guitar’ illustration by Bill Nelson that first appeared on the inner spread of the ‘Eros Arriving’ 7″ double-pack was now added as the rear of the inner booklet (and a portion of the photo from the front of that single sleeve made it along too), while the photo that had featured on the rear cover of the original LP was now restored, inside the booklet – along with some non-era photos of Bill that had first saw light of day inside the ‘Youth Of Nation On Fire’ double-pack 7″ single back in 1981. The label is a high-gloss white finish with type arrangement in keeping with the elegance of the rest of the original sleeve.

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD front cover

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD front cover

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD label design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD label design

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 1

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 1

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 2

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 2

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 3

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 3

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 4

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 4

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 5

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records CD inner spread 5

Bill Nelson 'The Love That Whirls' UK Mercury Records rear case design

^ Bill Nelson ‘The Love That Whirls’ UK Mercury Records rear case design

3 Responses to “The Compact and Mercurial Bill Nelson Part 2: The Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)”

  1. I only ever had the LP [with bonus album] and the initial Cocteau UK CD of this title; still Bill’s finest hour by my reckoning! I didn’t mind the addition of B-sides between the two album sides. That was an early CD bonus track gambit that I accepted coming from the time where album sides were planned by dint of building a mood from the songs that fit within the physical limitations of LPs. Namely, what made an 18-22 minute side with the quietest track usually in the last position per face due to the diminishing S/N ratio across an album’s face – one of the limitations of mastering vinyl.

    What stuck in my craw at the time was losing the original mix of “Hope For The Heartbeat.” Particularly, since the remix was already in my Record Cell from 1984 as part of Nelson’s amazing “Two Fold Aspect Of Everything” B-Sides/remix 2xLP!

    I did not buy the Enigma release at the time, owing to me purchasing the other 15+ CDs in that series which had never been on CD before! Including the aforementioned “Two Fold Aspect Of Everything!” My wallet cried out and even those two unreleased tracks could not persuade me. Besides, losing “Empire Of The Senses” and “Flaming Desire” makes hackwork of this album! I think that it came down to rights. CBS owned the tracks on “Vistamix” in the US, and Enigma [an indie though distributed by Capitol] would not have had the required budget to license those two tracks from CBS just to give the album integrity.

    I have not bought the 2005 edition either. But looking at the whole sprawling mess that has been made with “The Love That Whirls,” can we not just taste the 2xCD DLX RM that is probably no longer than a year or two out by this time, that will have the original LP on disc one, with a bonus disc of the requisite rarities from the album campaign? It’s criminal that the extended :Flaming Desire” is still lost to analog!

  2. admin says:

    A good point about the CBS owned tracks, more likely the reason behind their absence rather than altruistic worries about making fans pay twice for the same tracks again (even if, as you point out, their absence rather weakens the overall package. The original album is also down as my choice as Bill’s finest hour too and oh for a 2xCD re-issue that finally gathers up all the loose ends!

  3. lieutenant 030 says:

    a further welcome act in gathering up all the loose ends would be a compilation of all the EPs released through the Acquitted By Mirrors fan club. A lot of these tracks have been lost in the sands of time.

    Esoteric Recordings have been doing a good service to Bill over the past few years with their Cocteau Records reissues, the Trial By Intimacy release was especially thoughtfully produced. Although I would have liked to have seen Sounding The Ritual Echo to have been released with Quit Dreaming and La Belle Et La Bette to have been a second disc to The Love That Whirls a large part of me thinks that this is just my nostalgia of buying those albums all those years ago and listening to them one after the other. But on the other hand they do go nicely with Das Kabinet and the Dreamy Screens box collects them nicely.

    The Esoteric releases show that, with a bit of thought, investigation and gathering, a reissue doesn’t have to be cobbled together and thrown out for the masses to feel slightly deflated about what could have been

    One small suggestion for Esoteric… how about a release of Chimera and Savage Gestures as a double cd set, I have always felt that these two go very well together but again that could just be nostalgia shouting loudly in my head and heart

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