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)





1979: Revolt Into Style: 76 Year Defining Tracks – 3 CD set review

30 12 2021

Cherry Red are continuing their review of the late 70s music scene, with the latest 3 CD set Revolt Into Style released on 21 January 2022 and concentrating on 1979, which just happens to be my favourite year in music.

The four hours of music contained in the 3 CD’s includes more obscure offerings sitting alongside some of the major new wave artists who were spewing out three minute classic singles that are on offer here, along with choice album cuts from The Stranglers, Madness, Tubeway Army, Ian Dury, Squeeze, XTC and more.

Disc One opens with the track that gives it’s name to the compilation. Former Be-Bop Deluxe front-man Bill Nelson, with the second single from his band Red Noise’s only studio album Sound-on-Sound. The single version of Magazine’s Rhythm Of Cruelty is included and is a perfect example of how there was a real pop sensibility seeping into the new wave and alternative music of 1979.

The Dr. Feelgood R&B / new wave of The Cannibals You Can’t is one of the less well-known songs on this compilation. The Only Ones are represented by the fine 7″ version of You Got To Pay, and another highlight on the first disc is a rarely heard gem by Scotland’s Fingerprintz, with the unbelievably catchy Night Nurse.

The Staircase (Mystery) is one of the finest early Siouxsie And The Banshees singles, and as a non-album track, is a welcome addition here. Replicas Me, I Disconnect From You by Tubeway Army signals the beginning of Gary Numan’s firm hold on the UK charts that would last for several years into the mid-80s, with Numan continuing to delight his audience right up to the present day.

The final X-Ray Spex single Highly Inflammable is a more synth infused pop song than their earlier four iconic single releases, and the first incarnation of the band split soon after this release in mid 1979. Victims Of The Riddle (Part 1) was the first single from Toyah and features on the wonderful Sheep Farming In Barnet deluxe edition that was released by Cherry Red in 2000.

Despite the mighty Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 being released in 1979, Cherry Red have included an album track for this compilation, choosing Sink My Boats from Do It Yourself. The inclusion of this fine track will hopefully turn more people on to this excellent album.

Disc Two opens with Up The Junction, one of Squeeze’s finest singles (and one of the bands greatest lyrics). The quality continues with one of The Clash’s lesser known tracks, Groovy Times from The Cost Of Living EP.

The Skids Masquerade was produced by Bill Nelson, and remains one of the band’s strongest singles, of which there were many!

Former Deaf School guitarist and 80s production heavyweight Clive Langer with his band The Boxes contribute The Whole World, that also features future Siouxsie And The Banshees / The Creatures drummer Budgie on bass (and of course, drums). An early Zoo Records recording of Read It In Books from Echo And The Bunnymen is another highlight of the second disc, as is the Gang Of Four’s At Home He’s A Tourist.

The Jags Back Of My Hand was a top 20 hit and was all over the airwaves in 1979. Bouncing Babies (Zoo version) from The Teardrop Explodes still sounds great (as does the whole of the band’s catalogue). Adam and the Ants Whip In My Valise was the b side to the Zerox single, and was recorded by the pre-Kings of the Wild Frontier line-up of the band. The next version of Adam and the Ants from 1980 onwards were one of the 80s biggest and most influential bands.

Birmingham band Fashion offer a John Foxx / Ultravox sounding single Citinite. A later line-up of the band released one of my favourite 80s albums in 1982, with Fabrique. The Undertones were another great late 70s singles band and Here Comes The Summer was one of their most memorable early hits.

The Pretenders second single Kid is a piece of pure-pop perfection from the original, classic line-up of the band led by one of the best new wave vocalists and songwriters, Chrissie Hynde. When You’re Young by The Jam was a non-album single, but was included on a later re-issue of Setting Sons and on compilations such as About The Young Idea: The Very Best Of The Jam.

The Ruts Something That I Said was a top 20 hit for the band, and was re-recorded for their album The Crack. A rare mis-step on the compilation is the inclusion of The Stranglers Don’t Bring Harry, not one of the bands finest moments, and the fact that any track on their 1979 album The Raven (Duchess, the title track or Baroque Bordello) would have represented the bands output from this year so much better.

The final disc in the compilation opens with one of XTC’s greatest singles, and their first big hit, Making Plans For Nigel, with a drum sound that would be so prevalent over the early years of the next decade.

Manchester band Passage contribute the wonderful stop / start Taking My Time single and one of Kirk Brandon’s early bands The Pack are represented with the Rough Trade single Number 12.

The Human League’s Empire State Human has always been one of my favourite tracks from the band, along with their near perfect take on You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ from the same album as Empire State Human, Reproduction.

Work All Week by The Mekons has an intro similar to The Vapors Turning Japanese, whilst Public Image Ltd offer the single version of Memories, which, of course, is followed by punk pastiche band The Monks (featuring former Strawbs members Richard Hudson and John Ford) with Johnny B Rotten.

Chris Sievey (later known for the comic persona Frank Sidebottom) and his band The Freshies are represented by Children Of The World from the EP The Men from Banana Island Whos Stupid Ideas Never Caught On in the Western World as We Know It. Prisoners is the debut single from The Vapors and starts the journey for a band that are still releasing quality music today – check out their 2020 album Together that features a career highlight with Girl From The Factory.

Another rarely heard track is 7 Teen by The Regents, a top 20 hit late in 1979. The Boys (who also released Christmas songs as The Yobs!) supply the Chris Spedding (Motor Bikin’) meets Roxy Music influenced Kamikaze.

The Carpettes Easy Way Out was a Beggars Banquet single from late 1979, and still sounds powerful today. A raw, early Scritti Politti track Messthetics from the Work In Progress EP is rhythmically and musically challenging but does hint at the wonderful music that was to come in the next few years from Green Gartside’s band.

Spizzenergi’s classic Where’s Captain Kirk? is another highlights from this year. I’ve still got the 7″ single somewhere.

1979: Revolt Into Style is a great collection, and also does a good job of highlighting some of the less well-known alternative / new wave songs from 1979, whilst documenting the rapid move into the post-punk and electronic era of UK music.

Buy 1979: Revolt Into Style

Disc One

Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – Revolt Into Style
Eddie And The Hot Rods – Media Messiahs
Andy Arthurs – I Feel Flat
Magazine – Rhythm Of Cruelty (single version)
The Cannibals – You Can’t
John Cooper Clarke – ¡Gimmix! Play Loud
Dead Fingers Talk – The Boyfriend
The Only Ones – You Got To Pay
Glaxo Babies – Who Killed Bruce Lee?
Sham 69 – Questions And Answers (single version)
Fingerprintz – Night Nurse
Siouxsie And The Banshees – The Staircase (Mystery)
The Squares – Stop Being A Boy
The Fall – Rebellious Jukebox
Alternative TV – Graves Of Deluxe Green
Patrik Fitzgerald – All Sewn Up
Tubeway Army – Me, I Disconnect From You
The Outsiders – White Debt
The Members – Soho-A-Go-Go
Three Party Split – Dubious Parentage
X-Ray Spex – Highly Inflammable
Jonnie And The Lubes – I Got Rabies
Toyah – Victims Of The Riddle (Part 1)
Ian Dury And The Blockheads – Sink My Boats

Disc Two

Squeeze – Up The Junction
The Clash – Groovy Times
The Records – Girls That Don’t Exist
The Skids – Masquerade
Clive Langer And The Boxes – The Whole World
Echo And The Bunnymen – Read It In Books
The Faders – Library Book
Gang Of Four – At Home He’s A Tourist
Joy Division – Disorder
The Numbers – Alternative Suicide 11 The
The Jags – Back Of My Hand
The Teardrop Explodes – Bouncing Babies (Zoo version)
The Cravats – Burning Bridges
Adam And The Ants – Whip In My Valise
Fashion – Citinite
The Undertones – Here Comes The Summer
Cult Figures – Zip Nolan (extended mix)
Pretenders – Kid
The Quads – There Must Be Thousands
The Jam – When You’re Young
The Cheetahs – Radio-Active
The Ruts – Something That I Said
The Teenbeats – I Can’t Control Myself
The Stranglers – Don’t Bring Harry
The Barracudas – I Want My Woody Back

Disc Three

XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Revillos – Where’s The Boy For Me?
The Monochrome Set – The Monochrome Set (single version)
Passage – Taking My Time
Swell Maps – Real Shocks
The Zipps – Friends
Disco Zombies – Disco Zombies
The Pack – Number 12
The Human League – Empire State Human
The Wall – Kiss The Mirror
The Mekons – Work All Week
999 – Found Out Too Late
The Outcasts – Self Conscious Over You
Public Image Ltd – Memories (single version)
The Monks – Johnny B Rotten
The Freshies – Children Of The World
The Vapors – Prisoners
Madness – Bed And Breakfast Man
Secret Affair – Glory Boys
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Dance Stance (demo)
The Regents – 7 Teen
The Lurkers – New Guitar In Town
The Boys – Kamikaze
The Carpettes – Easy Way Out
Scritti Politti – Messthetics
Spizzenergi – Where’s Captain Kirk?
Notsensibles – I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher

Buy 1979: Revolt Into Style








%d bloggers like this: