Blues

Martin Cooper checks out Be-Bop Deluxe’s crim­i­nally un­der­sung but in­cred­i­bly mu­si­cal and cre­ative gui­tarist,Wake­field’s own Bill Nel­son.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Ro­nan Mc­Cul­lagh looks at the Strat-tas­tic play­ing of South African prodigy Dan Pat­lansky.

Be-Bop Deluxe came to promi­nence in the 1970s with their stylis­tic blend of clas­sic rock, prog and glam. They formed in 1972 when gui­tarist and singer Bill Nel­son joined forces with fel­low gui­tar player Ian Parkin, bassist and vo­cal­ist Robert Bryan and drum­mer Nicholas Chat­ter­ton-Dew. They also had a key­board player, Richard Brown, who left the band at the end of their first year to­gether. They were ini­tially com­pared to acts such as David Bowie, but rather than find this a com­pli­ment, Nel­son was frus­trated by it. In fact his general frus­tra­tion with the band’s mu­sic is one of the rea­sons that they fi­nally dis­banded in 1978.

Dur­ing their early days Be-Bop Deluxe be­gan play­ing in West York­shire pubs, and were signed in 1974 to EMI sub­sidiary la­bel Har­vest. They only recorded one al­bum for the la­bel with their ini­tial line-up be­fore Nel­son dis­solved the band and re­formed with bass player Paul Jef­freys, key­board player Mil­ton ReameJames (both from Cock­ney Rebel), and drum­mer Si­mon Fox. Jef­freys was trag­i­cally killed in the Pan-Am Locker­bie bomb­ing in 1988. Play­ers con­tin­ued to join and leave the band, but they con­tin­ued to gain crit­i­cal ap­proval, if not much com­mer­cial suc­cess, and some of their al­bums in­cluded A-list pro­duc­ers such as Roy Thomas Baker, who at the time was pro­duc­ing Queen. Be-Bop’s first three al­bum ti­tles Axe Vic­tim, Fu­tu­rama and Sun­burst Fin­ish all nod cryp­ti­cally to­wards the gui­tar.

Through Nel­son’s sax-play­ing fa­ther he got into be-bop mu­sic but didn’t ac­tu­ally count it as one of the band’s stylis­tic in­flu­ences, al­though some of his flow­ing lead lines in­volve jazz in­flu­enced chro­matic phrases. If any­thing their mu­sic be­came more pro­gres­sive as the band grew, in­clud­ing com­plex pieces like Mod­ern Mu­sic, a 10-minute suite of songs.

As well as fronting his own band Nel­son also some­times dou­bled as a ses­sion player for groups such as The Skids, which fea­tured Big Coun­try front man Stu­art Adam­son, who was a big fan ofthe gui­tarist.

Nel­son’s style in­volves an eclec­tic mix of in­flu­ences, from Duane Eddy and Hank Marvin to Clap­ton, Hen­drix, Al­lan Holdsworth and Ol­lie Hal­sall. How­ever Bill later es­chewed the speedy play­ing for more pro­duc­tion led, sonic land­scapes.

Our piece this month isn’t tricky to play, but tim­ing will be im­por­tant, as there’s a lot of

The band ’s first three alb um ti­tle s Axe Victi m, Fu­tura ma and Sunb urst Fini sh all nod cry pti­cally to ward s the gui­tar

space in the track; al­ways a key fea­ture in Be-Bop Deluxe ar­range­ments. The track has drums, bass, two key­board parts, plus elec­tric and acous­tic gui­tar, so as much as any­thing is a les­son in how to ar­range parts so that they can be heard, while leav­ing space for ev­ery­one else. We’re in the key of D (D-E-F#-G-AB-C#), but with a C chord that’s out­side the key, and some chro­matic pass­ing notes in the solo, which in­clude the #4 and

Check out Play­ing Tips and Get The Tone box for more in­for­ma­tion.

NEXT MONTH Martin ex­am­ines the play­ing style of US gui­tar leg­end Ron­nie Mon­trose Bill Nel­son usu­ally favours gui­tars such as his faith­ful Gib­son ES-345 semi and, per­haps un­usu­ally, the British made Carls­boro Twin amp. Ef­fects in­clude phaser, a fuzzy drive when play­ing lead, and a lot of re­verb on oc­ca­sion. Go for a ba­sic clean tone with re­verb and add ef­fects like phaser to taste. Jump on a drive pedal for those lead mo­ments.

Bill Nel­son with the Gib­son ES345 bought for him by his Dad

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