on 27 December 2006
Oh, how very, very long have I waited for this to get a CD release. With both of my cassette copies from 1986 long having gone the way of the mangled spool, and having no record player on which to spin the mini-LP, I had only my memories - but it has been worth the wait.
A beautiful, unique and evocative blend of styles and influences. Weaving percussion, sweeping string synths, delicately reverberating acoustic guitar, but above all the swoop and swirl of the e-bow guitar make this album Bills best by a country mile. The esoteric visuals merge with pastoralism and romanticism, touching XTCs more experimental phases, looping in some Foxxian electro-psychedalia and typical mid-80s hints at the orient. Wildest Dreams, the single, is a highlight, as are Contemplation, Theology, Lost in Your Mystery and Rise Like a Fountain. Even a little bit too much funk on the last track doesn't dim the shine.
I can guarentee that this will be unlike anything else in your collection - a forgotten landmark piece of musicianship and songwriting.
It has taken 20 years, but at last Bill Nelson's mighty "Getting the Holy Ghost Across" gets a CD release. This album has been avidly sought by fans over the years, who have had to rely on their old vinyl or cassette copies in which to hear this great recording. Originally released on the CBS label Portrait back in 1986, Sony have agreed now to license the recording to Bill's own label Sonoluxe for this remastered re-issue. Now also sporting upgraded artwork and all the bonus tracks which appeared on the cassette version and the mini LP "Living for the Spangled Moment".
This is Bill Nelson at his 80's best. Influences from his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra impregnate the sinewy sounds as it did on his album "Chimera" where the rhythm track was supplied by YMO's own Yukihiro Takahashi. Using his trademark E-bow guitar, marimbas and synths Bill flavours each track with eastern flourishes to create a sophisticated musical palette. Though Bill himself questions the 80's production values on this record, the sound is gorgeous and there is a rare emotionality present which were absent in the majority of the clinical, glossy produced records of the day. Part of that emotionality stems from the personal upheavals Bill was going through during the recording of the album. The results are some of Bill's most sumptuous songs he had written up to that point. Songs like the single "Wildest Dreams" is thoroughly heartfelt. "Rise Like A Fountain" is simply ecstatic. Obviously this was a very productive period as the sessions threw up so much material which are presented here over 18 tracks, just about filling up the 80 minutes of CD time. Of course Bill has always been highly prolific, but with this album he was definitely at a peak of compositional flare.
For many Nelson acolytes, this album has long been overdue a re-release and on reflection this is truly a lost gem from the art-pop 80's, alongside the best of The Associates, Simple Minds, David Sylvian and others of the era.
When push comes to shove, probably my favourite of all Bill's albums. This CD incorporates three vinyl releases from the mid-80's, the UK version "Getting The Holy Ghost Across", the US version "On A Blue Wing" and the UK mini album "Living For The Spangled Moment."
Like the other reviewer I have been waiting for this CD patiently for many years, though I have been able to burn myself a CD from my original vinyl copies. The album contains many high points, "Contemplation" and "Wildest Dreams", but for me, the inclusion of "Finks & Stooges Of The Spirit" makes a must-buy into an essential purchase.
There is an interesting history aligned to this album. In 1986 , when this album was originally set for release Bill Nelson was under contract to the "Portrait" label, which in turn was owned by the American arm of CBS. It was released in the U.K. as the artist intended but over in the more religiously pious and florid States it's album art involving occult symbolism and Masonic scripts, not to mention the albums title was frowned upon and the album was censored ,receiving a new title -"On A Blue Wing"- and new abstract cover art. The fact the scripts only spelt out the artist and albums name was no sop to their fundamentalist zeal either .
As is so often the case, when Nelson visited the States on a promotional jaunt the mild controversy drew more attention to the album than it would have gleaned otherwise. However the album has never been released in the CD format, until now. Not only that, this re-issue also includes a companion mini-album recorded at the same time called "Living For The Spangled Moment". Nelson, never one to sit on a single idea or concept for any length of time has changed the cover art for this re-release. He has as he puts in the liner notes " wrung the visual changes " but the albums central theme of love as turmoil and as an attempt to exorcise an romantic affair gone bad of course remains the same and resonates with an audience as it always has done and always will.
Artistically it's ambitious and dignified with multiple overdubs incorporating keyboards, violin, marimba, saxophone, percussion, bass and guitars. It's densely textured, yet often quite light and airy, with the various layers of detail given space to breathe. It also sounds resolutely of it's time, with that glamorous spangled production sheen so prevalent in the eighties, that and the judicious use of that eighties staple the fretless bass. The digital re-mastering has not stripped the album of any of that nuance and glistening epidermis. It reminds me simultaneously of albums by David Sylvian, Scritti Politi, Propaganda, Peter Gabriel, and Brian Eno and by proxy David Bowie.
The music occasionally is wilfully prosaic, lacking any sonic or melodious impact and the lyrics are often screamingly pretentious but at its best on tracks like "Contemplation" which has a vibrant multi-cultural vibe not dissimilar to Robbie Robertson's "Contact from The Underworld Of Redboy", or the sly pop tones of "Age Of Reason" this is a ravishing elaborate listening pleasure. Two of the bonus tracks from the mini album - the title track and "Illusions Of You" give incontrovertible empirical evidence that very little in life beats living for the spangled moment.
on 12 November 2013
well you wait twenty years , then 2 come along,
so if you have the sonoluxe version why buy this.
its a 5 star album , his last great studio album?
the packaging is far better, with the original uk cover, 2 cds with some extra tracks, expanded booklet, slip cover.
only one odd omission "here and now" which i thought was recorded during these sessions, and appears on the duplex (best of cd), is not included, does anyone know why?.
the remastering, is almost identical to my ears, aged as there are,
so should you get it, yes
and sell the sonoluxe one.(its limited to 500 i think)
on 30 January 2009
I have long considered this to be my favourite Bill Nelson album, although it may have been surplanted now by the fantastic Alchemical Adventures of Sailor Bill! However, this is a long awaited CD release, and with the extra tracks, all of which are excellent creates a wonderful package of Bill at his absolute best during his 80's work. A must for all Bill's fans
on 3 February 2015
Thank You, I am so elated that this has come out as a cd set, such a brilliant album, and one of bill nelsons best albums, keep up the good music vibe. All the Best. TWDevlin
on 6 September 2015
finally on cd....the most under rated artist ever....I own everything Bill ever put out..with Be Bop Deluxe too !!
on 21 November 2013
I bought this album on vinyl back on it's release in '86. I still have the album but no longer anything to play it on. I've had to make do with listening to the tracks on You Tube. I somehow missed out on the 2006 reissue and so was well pleased when I heard it was getting a new reissue this year.
Sound quality and packaging are excellent.The extra disc really is a bonus. Some excellent tracks on the 'Living For The Spangled Moment' EP. If you like Bill Nelson and haven't heard this album,why not? It really is one of his classics.It still retains a 'band' feel unlike a lot of his more recent offerings.