In the ’70s, Bill Nelson’s Be-Bop Deluxe sat in a musical space between the primitivism of Punk and the pomposity of Prog. Bebop’s technically complex music was rooted in blues and jazz but looked firmly to the future. Nelson’s later releases with Red Noise, and especially on his solo records in the ’80s, were stellar examples of how guitar-based music could incorporate the technology of the times (synths and drum machines) while offering some serious playing for fans of the instrument.
Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers Recorded Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London [Convexe], is a three disc set (two CDs and one DVD) that provides an overview of Nelson’s career in the form of a live-in-the-studio concert.
“October Man” from the solo record The Love That Whirls
The boxed set is a guitar-porn delight. Nelson plays a different guitar on almost every one of the 14 tunes, including the Campbell American Nelsonic Transitone in the video above, and, on another tune, another Transitone; his iconic Gibson ES 345 from the Bebop days and a three-pickup Les Paul, both with Bigsbys; a white Airline ’59 Coronado map-style and a Saturn ’63 from Eastwood; a Duesenberg Starplayer TV; a Gretsch White Falcon; a couple of D’Aquisto resembling guitars, a blue-green semi-hollow that looks like a Gretsch but isn’t, a solid-body that looks like a PRS but isn’t, and another solid-body that looks like it has paired lipstick pickups set up as humbuckers.
Early Be-Bop Deluxe
Bill Nelson has been kicked around by the business more than most as he explains in this extensive interview:
But from the evidence of Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers Recorded Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London he has emerged with his enthusiasm and chops intact. The four instrumental bonus tracks are, in this case, truly a bonus.
There is currently a slew of ’60s and ’70s bands putting out live performance discs by the original or remaining members of the band. This one holds up better than most; more than a retrospective by a guitarist who pushed the envelope, this is also a collection of great music, well performed.