Bill Nelson - My Secret Studio Vol. 1 album review

Four-disc reissue of (at the time unreleased) studio material from 1988 to ’92

Cover art for Bill Nelson - My Secret Studio Vol. 1 album

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In his heyday, Bill Nelson was one of the UK’s most consistent and prolific rock talents, a quite superb guitarist who wasn’t afraid to embrace electronics even in a synthaverse age. And yet somehow he slips through the timeline, doesn’t quite get the kudos. This applied commercially as well as critically. In the late 80s and early 90s, at a difficult time in his life, he recorded a series of albums – Buddah Head, Electricity Made Us Angels, Deep Dream Decoder and Jukebox For Jet Boy – which he describes as “sketches”, raw material to be realised by a band and given major releases. That never happened. They were, however, issued in box-set form in 1995, and have now been reissued.

Strange that Nelson should regard this material as sketches; it feels rich and fully realised. Reminders abound of other, contemporary artists – Talking Heads, David Sylvian, Bryan Ferry; Scritti Politti, Vangelis – while some of Electricity feels like it could have taken its place on one of David Bowie’s elegant, elegiac final albums

Jukebox For Jet Boy is the most diverse of the albums, flirting with full-on electro-funk, among other styles. Otherwise there is a warm, homogenous feel about this material, in which luxuriant electronics and backwards guitar combine for a melancholic bath, making for a collection that’s never lousy, never quite hits the pinnacles but feels like a set in whose company you could happily spend a few hours.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.