An intriguing re-issue from the eighties, Be Bop Deluxe member Bill Nelson goes solo on a quest to reconcile the physical and the spiritual sides of love...
Getting The Holy Ghost Across (reissue)
Artist: Bill Nelson
Cherry Red Records
Disc 1: 10 tracks 45 minutes Disc 2: 11 tracks 45 minutes
Nearly three decades after its initial inception, Bill Nelson - innovative songwriter, guitarist, and member of the seminal 80's band, Be Bop Deluxe – releases the ultimate two-disc version of his troubled 1986 project, Getting the Holy Ghost Across, complete with its companion-piece, a 'mini-album' called Living For The Star Spangled Moment, and several bonus tracks.
A multi-instrumantalist, Nelson's masterful use of guitars (electric and acoustic), keyboards, drums, perecussion and bass often produce an almost hypnotic, yet funky vibe, especially on songs like the synth-riff barn burner, "Age of Reason." Of course many of the staples of eighties production are present, programmed drums most prominently, but Nelson uses the sounds deliberately and to good effect, unlike many contemporaries that just seemed to use electronics as a cheap substitute for 'real' instruments.
As improbable as it may seem, there's often an Eastern influence in the songs despite the electronic bedrock of the music - "Contemplation" is a good example.
The music still hold up these many years later, even though there's a specific signature indicating when it was made. One can hear echoes of other electro-pop bands that emerged from the same period, After The Fire and David Bowie in particular (at least to my ears). Whether by coincidence or by osmosis, Nelson's vocals frequently conjure up Bowie – and it was in that fertile musical mix of the day that David Bowie emerged as an important player. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine 'Ziggy' covering some of these tracks...
Although Nelson was involved with a Pentecostal group in the late sixties / early seventies, and has been connected to more mystical branches of Christianity, this album is more about love on a human level than a spiritual one. "The songs, on the main, dealt with a romantic affair that had thrown my life into a highly emotional spin," he says in the accompanying booklet, adding, "The album was my way of working through this..." Still, the lyrics betray a vocabulary well-versed in spiritual/religious terminology – references to 'walking on holy ground,' 'I walk on water,' and especially, from "Because of You," the words, 'I'm nailed to the cross of love, because of you,' and from "Rise Like a Fountain," the repeated 'Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,' are hard to ignore.
Getting The Holy Ghost Across is an important place-holder for the music of the mid-eighties and an intriguing, very personal project from an iconic figure in pop music who's still active today. The spiritual and the physical meet on this album and the resulting sound is very good indeed.