"It’s more exciting to be influenced by what could be done rather than what is being done. That’s a progressive outlook.” Jesus Jones' Iain Baker on why he rates Bill Nelson so highly

Bill Nelson
(Image credit: Press)

My Prog Hero is column where musicians not usually associtaed with progressive rock reveal their passion for a dyed-in-the-wool prog rocker. Back in issue 78, Jesus Jones keyboard player Iain Baker chose Be Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson

"The first time I heard Be-Bop Deluxe was either through John Peel playing them, or through watching them on The Old Grey Whistle Test. There was a strange duality going on in my childhood – I was this little punk kid buying all the punk records, but at the same time, I’d grown up with a father who’d played loads of wild and disparate stuff, so I was also listening to Be-Bop Deluxe, Barclay James Harvest and Mike Oldfield

When people think of prog, they think it’s the refuge of the virtuoso, and Bill Nelson is an incredible guitarist. On [1977’s] Live! In The Air Age album, there’s a version of Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape and the guitar solo on that is just staggering. I can’t imagine how he did it; it’s almost transcendental. His playing is engaging, it brings people in, and I think that’s what attracted me to him. 

I love [1978’s] Drastic PlasticPanic In The World is just a fantastic song. But I also love the way [1976’s] Sunburst Finish bursts into life with Fair Exchange – it’s just amazing. Even going back as far as the first album, Axe Victim, which has such a different sound compared to what came after it.

My fascination with Bill Nelson’s work extends beyond Be-Bop Deluxe. Drastic Plastic was the sound of a band finding what was happening in the future, but he moved it on even further with Red Noise. By then, I was listening to post-punk and I think [debut] Sound On Sound fits in almost perfectly with that. It’s an incredibly forward-thinking album. Then he does things like Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam and Chimera, and the mini-albums… he’s put out an incredibly strong body of work. He’s always been forward-thinking and it made perfect sense to me when he won Visionary at the 2015 Prog Awards.

In Jesus Jones, we’ve always thought that if you get too bogged down in what’s actually happening now, you get left behind. It’s more exciting to be influenced by what could be done rather than what is being done. That’s a progressive outlook.” 

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.