It was never a dull moment being a Bill Nelson fan in the 70’s. Starting off with the back-bedroom
meets Jean Cocteau stylings of ‘Axe Victim’ through the Prog-Pop of ‘Futurama’ and ‘Sunburst Finish’ – throw in an almost but not quite concept album ‘Modern Music’ and finish up with the inevitable live album. So far so good you might think. And then along comes ‘Drastic Plastic’. The Guitar freakout quota falls dangerously low…and does that look like a ‘New Wave’ album cover? Oh my…And the bloody keyboard player is wearing a V-Neck jumper on the back cover! Bowie
You have to blame Bill Nelson for all that (apart from the jumper). An overactive, overachieving Guitar hero with ADD, he can’t stay in one place long enough for anyone to stick him in a corporate pigeonhole, which in my world is A Very Good Thing. It does tend to confuse people tho’…
Red Noise was Mr Nelsons stab at going ‘contemporary’. Gone were the florid Pre-Raphaelitisms of Be-Bop – the rhythms are as rigid as a marching band and ultra-staccato. On their one and only album, the brilliant ‘Sound On Sound’, he is the rhythm section for half of it – playing Bass and Drums a la Todd R. He does a decent job too.
(Here's a little sampler of 'Sound On Sound' by avs002)
Red Noise had ‘planned obsolescence’ written all the way through it like a stick of
Blackpool rock. They lasted one album and tour, before Bill was off on a solo thing. The next album he did - ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ - had a Red Noise leftover or two, but lacks the manic energy of it’s predecessor. And then, thanks to the improvement in home studio technology, he retreats to his back-bedroom (or equivalent), buys a Marimba and gets the next bus to noodletown. Some of his more ambient stuff is lovely, but I remember at the time, all I wanted was the onoff stopgostop of Red Noise.