BILL NELSON Whimsy (Fabled Quixote USR103CD) (2003)
Bill Nelson is one of those rare artists who has successfully buried his "pop" past.
For a couple of decades he has immersed himself in ambient music and recordings emanating from his
home studio. A niche market and a million miles from the TOTP studio he graced in 1976 with Be Bop Deluxe.
Those who remember his chart days will recall that BBD were a talented and inventive outfit and their
albums were excellent. Nelson's guitar playing was also pretty damn fine. It is warming that this
double-CD offering is a conscious stab at inventive modern grooves, the sort of thing he made his name with.
Don't expect commerciality or instant fixes, this expansive offering demands repeat listens and careful evaluation but
it is infectious. Just try 'Dumb Palooka', 'Superslippy' or 'Buzz Was Honey' on CD2 for confirmation.
Bill Nelson may never capture the youth market, but it would only take a sampled 'Ships In the Night' or 'Blazing Apostles'
to put him back on modern radar. Until then, this reluctant superstar is an acquired taste but 'Whimsy' is a more accessible mixture
of ambient rock and sub-Bowie drawl.
Nelson's website is comprehensive and gives some insight to his art:
In one diary entry he opines: "There are times when I actually wonder whether some listeners are actually hearing what I'm hearing
in the work. Several people seem constantly, if mildly, shocked by each release, only for the 'penny to drop' a year or two later.
Naturally, I have no intention of making my music difficult or ahead of/behind the times; it is simply and always, the best that I can produce at any one given time.
There is no deliberate obscurity on my part. I've commented on this phenomena often in these pages but it continues to haunt me." Enough said. Investigate.