bill nelson and the EMI Ripoff - Bluesboy Jag
The genius of Bill Nelson was clear for all to see in Be Bop. No-one, but no-one has ever managed to jam Glam, Hard Rock and Prog altogether to make such an attractive package even half as tasty. Nelson’s incredibly bendy guitar playing was a highlight, but whatever the line up (and it fluctuated wildly throughout the band’s six year life span), they carved out an enviable reputation as a red-hot live act and cranked out the classic LPs Axe Victim, Futurama, Sunburst, Modern Music and Drastic Plastic in just four years (and that’s not counting the fine documentation of their stage show Live! In The Air Age from 1977). That is before we even begin to speculate on their huge influence on “alternative” music from Post Punk onwards.
Some Day, Artists Will Unite and Put a Stop to This Nonsense
This collection (that originally appeared in 1995 as a brief self-issued vinyl set) is a fascinating glimpse into the working process of an artist developing ideas at an early stage, but that isn’t quite a full explanation of what was going on here. Though Nelson was undoubtedly doodling around in down-time, the first selection Buddha Head certainly has enough good points to be an official release in its own right. In fact many of these offerings arrive in a fully developed state as highly skilled Pop songs, with others being short ideas put to tape with the intention to be expanded upon at a later date. Even in this basic stage he was still throwing in his inspired guitar wrangling, but electronics were also in the ascendancy in his work at the time, with synths and drum machines being used out of necessity. The general style here bears comparison to Bowie’s work from Scary Monsters onwards with a little of Japan and John Foxx’s solo career thrown in, but it’s all marked indelibly with Bill’s own personal touch.
It is no secret that the time of recording the albums included here Bill was going through a hard time. He was beset by personal and business problems, having to endure a long running dispute with a former manager over back catalogue royalties. The protracted legal wrangling took his energy away from his career and resulted in these albums barely seeing the light of day, only in a limited edition release years after they were recorded. One might expect these unreleased efforts, recorded by Nelson with an eye to forming a new band, to be little more than first drafts, demos and rehearsals.