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Bill Nelson - Sound on Sound ( as Bill Nelson's Red Noise) CD (album) cover


Bill Nelson


Crossover Prog

3.97 | 10 ratings

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4 stars This is the only album Bill Nelson released under the band name Red Noise, and based on his success here, it would have been interesting indeed to have seen this band idea play out for a few more albums. Having disbanded Be Bop Deluxe (a band I admittedly don't know much about), his work on this album is high-energy, guitar-based New Wave rock of a very high caliber. The closest comparison that comes to mind is the first two XTC albums, but Nelson's take on herky-jerky new wave is decidedly heavier and more rooted in classic rock idioms.

It begins with "Don't Touch Me (I'm Electric)", the musical equivalent of bouncing around in a pinball machine, with hyper-excited vocals by Nelson and dissonant chords colliding with the stomping rhythms. "For Young Moderns" brings in a Cars/Roxy Music vibe, with smooth synthesizers and a moderate rocking tempo. "Stop/Go/Stop" returns to the first song's caffeinated paranoia, and "Furniture Music" is mid-tempo again. The latter song has one of the more memorable melodies on the album, and was a suitable choice for a single release. I think he may have been poking a bit of fun at Brian Eno on this one, but who knows, maybe they were friends for all I know.

For twelve high-energy tracks (no ballads here), Nelson and company fill their songs with urgency, guitar/synth hooks galore, and occasionally the kind of guitar heroics that make Nelson famous in Be Bop Deluxe (e.g. "A Better Home in the Phantom Zone" has some excellent guitar runs). In a few years, Nelson would turn towards more ambient art rock and instrumental soundscape music, but this album marks an interesting period in his career when he was looking for new ways to rock out. With a tight band behind him and a bunch of scorching hot rock tunes, this album remains exciting today.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |


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