Bill Nelson's After The Satellite Sings influenced Bowie's Earthling – but was the better album

Criminally overlooked hyperactive homage to beatniks.

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So prolific was Bill Nelson in the mid-90s that this ebullient work from ‘95, created from scratch in 28 days in East Yorkshire, seems neglected even by those who keep a keen eye on his endlessly energetic endeavours. Now re-mastered, it’s probably one of his finest releases, dazzling with an abundance of colliding ideas which ping off each other.

It takes the Beat Generation (Kerouac, Ginsberg) as muses, even trying to emulate Burroughs’ “cut-up” techniques in some guitar solos. Yet it’s not strictly a guitar album: it reveals Nelson’s then-fascination with drum’n’bass, and over such skittering rhythms drapes all manner of textures and tones. Only the thin vocals let it down, though the lyrics (all sci-fi and sex) are inspired.

In new sleevenotes, Nelson says that Reeves Gabrels told him that Bowie was influenced by this to record his own drum’n’bass-influenced Earthling. It’s a better album than that.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.