Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise review

29 06 2022

Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise is a new six disc boxed set of the complete recordings made by Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – comprising four CDs and two NTSC/region free DVDs. The boxed set is released by Cherry Red on 26 August 2022.

Bill Nelson’s Red Noise - Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise review

The collection features a newly remastered edition of the album Sound On Sound along with new 5.1 surround sound and new stereo mixes by Stephen W Tayler (Rush, Peter Gabriel, Howard Jones, Kate Bush, Rupert Hine).

Sound on Sound was originally released in February 1979 on Harvest / EMI and spawned the singles Furniture Music and Revolt Into Style. One of my favourite albums from the late 70s, this collection from Cherry Red is the definitive Red Noise release. Disc one comprises an excellent remaster from the original master tapes. It packs more of a punch and has a sonic sparkle missing from previous CD re-issues.

The spikey new wave / drums and guitar of Stay Young sound newly powerful with this remaster. The album delivers a mix of glam / art rock and new wave styles that populated so much good music from 1979, which also happens to be my favourite musical year. Sorry for repeating myself, I know I’ve said that before in this blog.

Feeling at home with the likes of The Stranglers, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Skids and Magazine, Sound On Sound is the only album Bill Nelson released with this art-rock spiked with new wave hybrid style. Subsequent releases headed off into a more synth driven style with Quit Dreaming And Get on the Beam (1981), The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart) (1982) and one of my other Bill Nelson favourites, the mini-LP Chimera (1983). Such a rich vein of form.

“Your relatives are white and all your children have record players
They listen to Tom Robinson, the Beatles and the Byrds and Leo Sayer”
A Better Home In The Phantom Zone

Sound On Sound would have still been popular with fans of Be-Bop Deluxe, as the music was a natural evolution, not a cash-in on the popularity of the late 70s new wave acts that were a feature of the charts during this era. Nelson’s guitar work shines through, his solo on The Atom Age remains one of his finest from this period. The arrangements are rich, with new layers and moods rising to the surface throughout the songs, which are short and sharp. Nelson’s pop sensibility remains intact, even though the edges are rougher than what came before.

The original album ends with Art / Empire / Industry, with its delightful Autobahn meets Buzzcocks end section and the song that was my introduction to Red Noise, the classic single Revolt into Style. I’ve still got my treasured 7″ vinyl copy, and it still sounds so like the future.

“And though I know the time is almost 1984
It feels like 1965″

The bonus tracks are not just included to pad out the release. The slower pace of Wonder Toys That Last Forever and Acquitted by Mirrors feels like a bridge between Red Noise and what would come next for Bill Nelson. The urgency displayed in the February 1979 BBC Friday Rock Show session tracks is a delight, and the performances sound fresh and representative of the Red Noise live sound, more of that on the next disc in the boxset.

“Oh, Oh
Here comes the red noise
Absolute a go-go
Wonder toys that last forever”

Disc Two is Red Noise Live At The De Montfort Hall, in Leicester, recorded on 8 March 1979. This previously unreleased live set is a delight, and was originally engineered by John Leckie. The recordings for this disc were mixed from the original 24-track master tapes at Chimera Arts, Box, Wiltshire in March 2022 by Stephen W Tayler. I often find that live albums included in deluxe editions are the discs I rarely return to, but not in this case. The concert is one of the most exciting parts of the boxset. The arrangements and vocals differ enough to bear up to repeated listening. For Young Moderns is a highlight, as is the inclusion of Red Noise’s take on two tracks from Be-Bop Deluxe’s Drastic Plastic album, Possession and Superenigmatix.

Disc Three is where things get really interesting. These new stereo mixes, with all tracks remixed from the original 24-track master tapes in March 2022 by Stephen W Tayler, are an important part of the boxset. Comparing the two mixes, I’ve lived with the original album since 1979, so it is always going to be my preferred version, but these new mixes are wonderful. They are in the main slightly less abrasive and more widescreen, with drums processed more than on the original release and synths / keyboards often pushed to the fore. The difference with tracks such as For Young Moderns is very noticeable. Its almost Be-Bop Deluxe play Red Noise!

Stay Young is a standout of the new stereo mixes, with the bass more prominent, along with the enhanced synth and organ lines. The Atom Age sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday, and the early Roxy Music influence on the album shines bright on this track, more than any other.

I was not so keen on the new mix of Revolt Into Style, which does not hit the mark for me (I don’t like the effects on the drums), but its the only minor mis-step for me of these fresh new mixes. Wonder Toys That Last Forever feels superior to the original mix, with a fuller sound and a great bass upgrade. My Light is a previously unreleased song, recorded for the Sound On Sound album. I can see why it was not included. Its a good song, but would not have fitted with the frenetic pace of the original album. New mixes of Instantly Yours, Ideal Homes and Disposable, tracks recorded at RAK Studios, London during May 1979, are welcome additions and would possibly have formed part of the shelved follow-up to Sound On Sound.

The new mixes are never going to replace the original album, here in all its remastered glory, but the idea and the execution is good.

Discs four and five (not supplied for review) features a 96 Khz/24-Bit 5.1 Surround Sound Mix of Sound On Sound and 96 Khz/24-Bit 5.1 Surround Sound Mixes of the bonus material, plus video content – a promo video for Revolt into Style, plus Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric), Furniture Music and Stay Young from BBC TV’s Old Grey Whistle Test, originally broadcast in 1979.

Bill Nelson

Disc 6 consists of Bill Nelson’s original 1978 demos for Sound On Sound. They are a fascinating insight into the original thoughts behind the songs, but are not recordings that are likely to be returned to often, unlike the other discs in the collection.

The booklet includes an introduction written by Steven Wilson, and a lengthy piece about the background to the formation of Red Noise and the Sound On Sound album and live shows.

Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise is a well put together box-set, and will appeal to all fans of the Red Noise era. If you are new to the album, but are a fan of late 70s new wave and art-rock, I would recommend the 2 CD version of the album, that includes the remastered album plus the new stereo mixes.


Buy from Amazon
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise (6 disc box-set)
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound On Sound (2 CD set)

Buy from Burning Shed
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise (6 disc box-set)
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound On Sound (2 CD set)

Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise (6 disc box-set)

Disc One: Sound On Sound Remastered

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric)
For Young Moderns
Stop / Go / Stop
Furniture Music
Radar in My Heart
Stay Young
Out of Touch
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone
Substitute Flesh
The Atom Age
Art / Empire / Industry
Revolt into Style

Bonus tracks

Wonder Toys That Last Forever
Acquitted by Mirrors (B-side of ‘Furniture Music’ EP)
Stay Young (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Furniture Music (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric) (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Out of Touch (BBC session 17.02.1979)

Disc Two: Live At The De Montfort Hall, Leicester 1979
Previously Unreleased

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric)(live)
For Young Moderns (live)
Furniture Music (live)
Out of Touch (live)
Stop-Go-Stop (live)
Atom Age (live)
Possession (live)
Superenigmatix (live)
Substitute Flesh (live)
Phantom Zone (live)
Radar in My Heart (live)
Art / Empire / Industry (live)
Revolt into Style (live)
Stay Young (live)
For Young Moderns (Encore) (live)

Disc Three: Sound On Sound New Stereo Mix

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric)
For Young Moderns
Stop / Go / Stop
Furniture Music
Radar in My Heart
Stay Young
Out of Touch
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone
Substitute Flesh
The Atom Age
Art / Empire / Industry
Revolt into Style

Bonus tracks

Wonder Toys That Last Forever
Acquitted by Mirrors
My Light
(previously unreleased) Recorded for the “Sound on Sound” sessions
Instantly Yours
Ideal Homes
Disposable

Disc Four: Sound On Sound

96 Khz/24-Bit 5.1 Surround Sound Mix

New Stereo Mix Original Stereo Mix

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric) (5.1 mix)
For Young Moderns (5.1 mix)
Stop / Go / Stop (5.1 mix)
Furniture Music (5.1 mix)
Radar in My Heart (5.1 mix)
Stay Young (5.1 mix)
Out of Touch (5.1 mix)
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone (5.1 mix)
Substitute Flesh (5.1 mix)
The Atom Age (5.1 mix)
Art / Empire / Industry (5.1 mix)
Revolt into Style (5.1 mix)

Disc Five Additional Red Noise Sessions
96 Khz/24-Bit 5.1 Surround Sound Mixes

New Stereo Mixes Original Stereo Mixes

Wonder Toys That Last Forever (5.1 mix)
Acquitted by Mirrors (5.1 mix)
My Light (5.1 mix) Recorded for the “Sound on Sound” sessions
Instantly Yours (5.1 mix)
Ideal Homes (5.1 mix)
Disposable (5.1 mix)

RAK Studios, London May 1979

Video Content

Previously Unreleased

Revolt into Style (Promotional video 1979)
Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric) (BBC TV Old Grey Whistle Test – 1979)
Furniture Music (BBC TV Old Grey Whistle Test 1979)
Stay Young (BBC TV Old Grey Whistle Test 1979)

Disc Six Bill Nelson Red Noise Demos

1978 – Previously Unreleased

Acquitted by Mirrors (demo)
For Young Moderns (demo)
Stop Go Stop (demo)
Furniture Music (demo)
Radar in My Heart (demo)
Stay Young (demo)
Out of Touch (demo)
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone (demo)
Substitute Flesh (demo)
The Atom Age (demo)
Revolt into Style (demo)
Waiting for the Night (demo)
My Light (demo)

Sound On Sound (2 CD set)

Disc One: Sound On Sound Remastered

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric)
For Young Moderns
Stop / Go / Stop
Furniture Music
Radar in My Heart
Stay Young
Out of Touch
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone
Substitute Flesh
The Atom Age
Art / Empire / Industry
Revolt into Style

Bonus tracks

Wonder Toys That Last Forever
Acquitted by Mirrors (B-side of ‘Furniture Music’ EP)
Stay Young (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Furniture Music (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric) (BBC session 17.02.1979)
Out of Touch (BBC session 17.02.1979)

Disc Two: Sound On Sound New Stereo Mix

Don’t Touch Me (I’m Electric)
For Young Moderns
Stop / Go / Stop
Furniture Music
Radar in My Heart
Stay Young
Out of Touch
A Better Home in the Phantom Zone
Substitute Flesh
The Atom Age
Art / Empire / Industry
Revolt into Style

Bonus tracks

Wonder Toys That Last Forever
Acquitted by Mirrors

My Light (previously unreleased) Recorded for the “Sound on Sound” sessions
Instantly Yours
Ideal Homes
Disposable

Buy from Amazon
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise (6 disc box-set)
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound On Sound (2 CD set)

Buy from Burning Shed
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Art / Empire / Industry: The Complete Red Noise (6 disc box-set)
Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound On Sound (2 CD set)





Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music deluxe box-set review

7 11 2019

Esoteric Recordings are releasing a re-mastered five-disc deluxe box-set limited edition (comprising 4 CDs and a DVD) of Modern Music, the 1976 album by Be-Bop Deluxe.

This expanded reissue has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features an additional 55 bonus tracks including new 5.1 surround sound & stereo mixes from the original multi-track tapes by award winning engineer Stephen W. Tayler, out-takes from the album sessions, a BBC Radio “In Concert” performance from October 1976, along with a bonus CD of a previously unreleased “official bootleg” of a performance at The Riviera Theater in Chicago in 1976 recorded for FM Radio on Be Bop Deluxe’s first US tour.

The set also includes visual material taken from a session for BBC TV’s “Old Grey Whistle Test” show broadcast in November 1976.

The DVD material (including the 5.1 mixes) is not reviewed here, as review copies were not provided.

Modern Music was the first album to be produced by John Leckie (XTC, Simple Minds, The Stone Roses) who continued to work with Bill Nelson on Red Noise, The Love That Whirls and Getting The Holy Ghost Across.

Modern Music was released just prior to the arrival of punk and new wave, a sound and attitude that would inform Nelson’s releases for the next few albums. The music on this album is a mixture of classic and progressive rock, with wonderful harmonies, nods to early David Bowie (particularly the Ziggy Stardust era) and a covers a variety of genres.

Twilight Capers is a delight – revelling in the genre-switching that was prevalent in this period – moving from ballad, via jazz-rock to reggae – all in the one track! The Doors like end section, with its powerful production touches hits the sweet spot every time.

The light and breezy Kiss Of Light reminds me of the City Boy debut album (a wonderful classic rock band that seems to have been written out of history) that was also released in 1976. Modern Music was written on the road, and seems to be Bill Nelson’s reflections on America at the time.

Nelson writes in the box-set booklet:

“…many of the songs on Modern Music were written in hotel rooms whilst touring America and some of them directly relate to the growing disillusion I was feeling with life on the road.”

The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow is a charming song, written by Nelson at a sound-check, lamenting his faraway love.

The Modern Music suite is the highlight for many fans of this or any Be-Bop Deluxe album. You can hear a snippet of the late John Peel in the suite’s intro to the title track, which radiates West-Coast sunshine.

Down On Terminal Street is overflowing with wonderful lyrical imagery, and I love the way the church-bells chime amongst the heavy guitars and synths in the songs intro and end section.

“The street cafe was closed to all but ghosts
Who glide the alleys searching for their lair”

Make The Music Magic returns to the more commercial sound of the early songs, but in a stripped back acoustic setting.

Disc two of this box-set is a new stereo mix of the album. The mix feels much wider, and individual instruments are noticeably clearer. As are the vocals – you can hear the reverb on Nelson’s vocals on Down On Terminal Street with such clarity, its like hearing the album for the first time. I defy you to not crank up the volume on this new mix.

This disc also includes the stunning 8 minutes long Shine (New Stereo Mix), which reminds me a little of Bowie’s Stay from Station To Station.

Disc three is a BBC Radio One “In Concert” taken from the band’s headlining show from 2 October 1976 London’s Hammersmith Odeon. The highlights of this disc for me are the live takes of Ships In The Night and the 12 minute plus Modern Music. It’s a good quality recording, given its age.

Disc four is a recording from the Riviera Theater in Chicago on 21 March 1976, where Be-Bop Deluxe opened for Thin Lizzy. The band’s set was mixed and broadcast live by the local radio station WXRT-FM. The concert included in the band’s set Bill’s Blues, which was never developed further on record. Sadly this “official” bootleg is for completists only, as at times its not as good quality as the sound of disc 3, and you can see why Bill’s Blues was left unreleased – it’s just a standard blues jam. There is audible distortion / clipping and hiss, so not a disc I will be returning to.

Nevertheless, this is a lovingly curated box-set, topped off with an entertaining 68 page book, that gives context to the band and the individual tracks, along with many previously unpublished images. If you are a fan of Bill Nelson’s work in Be-Bop Deluxe, or are a fan of 70s rock, there is much to enjoy in this box-set.

Pre-order Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music 4 cd / 1 DVD box-set on Amazon

Disc One: Cd
Modern Music
The Original Stereo Mix:

  1. Orphans Of Babylon
  2. Twilight Capers
  3. Kiss Of Light
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow
  6. Bring Back The Spark
  7. Modern Music
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars
  10. Lost In The Neon World
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids
  12. Modern Music (Reprise)
  13. Forbidden Lovers
  14. Down On Terminal Street
  15. Make The Music Magic
    Bonus Track
  16. Shine (B-Side Of Single)

Disc Two: Cd
Modern Music
The New Stereo Mix:

  1. Orphans Of Babylon (New Stereo Mix)
  2. Twilight Capers (New Stereo Mix)
  3. Kiss Of Light (New Stereo Mix)
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny (New Stereo Mix)
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (New Stereo Mix)
  6. Bring Back The Spark (New Stereo Mix)
  7. Modern Music (New Stereo Mix)
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (New Stereo Mix)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars (New Stereo Mix)
  10. Lost In The Neon World (New Stereo Mix)
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (New Stereo Mix)
  12. Modern Music (Reprise) (New Stereo Mix)
  13. Forbidden Lovers (New Stereo Mix)
  14. Down On Terminal Street (New Stereo Mix)
  15. Make The Music Magic (New Stereo Mix)
    Bonus Tracks
  16. Shine (New Stereo Mix)
  17. Forbidden Lovers (First Version)
  18. The Bird Charmer’s Destiny (First Version)

Disc Three: Cd
BBC Radio One “In Concert”
Recorded 2nd October 1976 At Hammersmith Odeon, London

  1. Maid In Heaven
  2. Bring Back The Spark
  3. Kiss Of Light
  4. Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
  5. Fair Exchange
  6. Ships In The Night
  7. Twilight Capers
  8. Modern Music
    I. Modern Music
    Ii. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)
    Iii. Honeymoon On Mars
    Iv. Lost In The Neon World
    V. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids
    Vi. Modern Music (Reprise)
  9. Blazing Apostles

Disc Four: Cd
Live At The Riviera Theatre, Chicago 21st March 1976 –
The Official Bootleg

  1. Fair Exchange
  2. Stage Whispers
  3. Life In The Air Age
  4. Sister Seagull
  5. Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
  6. Maid In Heaven
  7. Ships In The Night
  8. Bill’s Blues
  9. Blazing Apostles

Disc Five: Dvd
Modern Music
The 5.1 Surround Sound Mix / New Stereo Mix (96 Khz / 24-Bit) / Original Stereo Mix (96 Khz / 24-Bit)

  1. Orphans Of Babylon (5.1 Mix)
  2. Twilight Capers (5.1 Mix)
  3. Kiss Of Light (5.1 Mix)
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny (5.1 Mix)
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (5.1 Mix)
  6. Bring Back The Spark (5.1 Mix)
  7. Modern Music (5.1 Mix)
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (5.1 Mix)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars (5.1 Mix)
  10. Lost In The Neon World (5.1 Mix)
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (5.1 Mix)
  12. Modern Music (Reprise) (5.1 Mix)
  13. Forbidden Lovers (5.1 Mix)
  14. Down On Terminal Street (5.1 Mix)
  15. Make The Music Magic (5.1 Mix)
    Bonus Tracks
  16. Shine (5.1 Mix)
  17. Forbidden Lovers (First Version) (5.1 Mix)
  18. The Bird Charmer’s Destiny (First Version) (5.1 Mix)
    Visual Content
  19. Forbidden Lovers (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 1976)
  20. Down On Terminal Street (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 1976)

Pre-order Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music 4 cd / 1 DVD box-set on Amazon








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