Title - ‘Getting The Holy Ghost Across’ (Cocteau Discs)
Artist - Bill Nelson
So that I get this right, for all you rabid Bill Nelson fans out there, ESOTERIC RECORDINGS imprint Cocteau Discs, the home of Bill Nelson’s catalogue between 1971 and 2001, have continued their ongoing Nelson releases with the newly-remastered and expanded Getting The Holy Ghost Across.
Originally first released in 1986, the record was Bill’s sole album for the Portrait label and funnily enough was only ever released (on CD) as a strictly limited edition number of 500 copies on Bill’s Sonolux label. Still hugely sought after on CD by collectors even today, it is now here, in all it’s remastered and expanded double-disc glory.
This incredible, truly lush digitally remastered double album is gently opened with ‘Suvasini.‘ Some far off church bells toll before the effervescent strains of guitar gradually float in and begin to take over. The upbeat, Middle Eastern vibe of ’Contemplation’ is next, complete with flutes and organ harmonies it is also the first time Bill Nelson’s voice is heard. Next up is ‘Theology,’ a track that showcases Nelson’s unique vocal tone to a tee, it has 1986 (it’s original release date on Portrait Records) stamped musically all over it. ‘Wildest Dreams’ relies much more on synth music, pop back beats created on a loop, but never strays too far from Nelson’s winning formula.
Listening to ‘Lost In Your Mystery’ as it gently builds one can only reflect back to those mid-80’s and wonder just why Nelson never really charted; so to speak. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know he had his moments - like the single 'Do You Dream in Colour?' which finally reached #52 on the UK Singles Chart - but these songs are 100% pure 80’s ... and way better than a lot of the crap that topped the charts in those years!
Anyway, now that’s off my chest, next up are ‘Rise Like A Fountain’ (a more thoughtful, cinematic piece that contains most all pop synth elements from that era), ’Age of Reason’ (a bouncy-from-the-start pop-heavy work), ’The Hidden Flame’ (an instrumental) and then finally both ‘Because Of You’ (complete with frenetic guitar and sax work) and the short, but sweet ‘Pansophia’ bring the original album to a close.
The second disc is a combination of various outtakes and 12” remixes and kicks- off with ‘Wildest Dreams (Wild Mix).’ A song taken from the ‘Wildest Dreams 12” EP originally released, of course, in 1986 it is a delightful way to start proceedings. Next up is ‘Heart And Soul,’ a perpetually bouncy track (and one that has nothing to do with the T’Pau hit of the same name!) it is yet another prime example of just how good Nelson was back then.
‘Living For The Spangled Moment’ is a fantastic work of musical 80’s art. Pop sensibilities, vocals and synths all come together to create one truly satisfying vocal piece and is backed by ‘Feast Of Lanterns.’ Along next is ‘Illusions Of You’ which is yet another great song that fairly bounces along. The building instrumental premise of ‘Word For Word’ next. Containing some rather delightful acoustic guitar work it is followed by the harder, somewhat Industrial-lite feel of ‘Finks And Stooges Of The Spirit.’ Now this song really highlights the Gary Numan-esque vocal tone to Nelson.
Which is funny, and not all that surprising given that Nelson was actually once hired by British synthpop artist Gary Numan to produce his 1983 album Warriors. At the time Numan claimed that Bill Nelson was his "favourite guitar player, bar none." High praise, indeed.
‘Nightbirds’ is next and is actually taken from the ‘Living For The Spangled Moment EP’ originally released on CBS Records back in, of course, 1986. And bringing this second disc to a delightful close are such tracks as ‘Self Impersonation,’ ‘Wildest Dreams (Single Version)’ and then wrapping the whole project up, the beautiful ‘The Yo-Yo Dyne;’ which is again taken from the ‘Wildest Dreams 12” EP (1986).
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
To purchase: Bill Nelson – 'Getting The Holy Ghost Across' remastered & expanded edition DBL-CD:
Bill Nelson official website: