Sunday, 8 November 2015

Sister Seagull and Maid in Heaven by Be-Bop DeLuxe (Futurama 1975)

From the Alan Freeman Playlist

Be-bop Deluxe - Sunburst Finish (1976) (Courtesy: Allmusic)

Some bands are too unusual to classify and Be-Bop Deluxe are one such example. Bill Nelson had a David Bowie or Bryan Ferry vocal style, but without the Anthony Newley and Mick Jagger theatrical delivery. His guitar playing was somewhat at odds with his singing, being a bright version of Jimi Hendrix‘s fluidity. Maid in Heaven has a forceful intro, which becomes even more so with the introduction of Bill Nelson’s guitar. Nelson’s lyrics were often imaginative, with Maid in Heaven sounding as if it must be about more than a liaison in a cheap hotel, ‘She’s a maid in heaven/ He’s a knight on the tiles’. Likewise, the band sounds as if it is about to expand and develop the idea, when the song ends abruptly.

Sister Seagull is a slower track, but has a slightly heavier riff than Maid in Heaven. It is equally compact, ending with a seagull impression played by Nelson on his guitar. The lyrics use the bird as a metaphor for the feeling of freedom provided by a relationship, ‘And the wings of change have spread themselves o’er me/ Sister seagull you’re the reason I survive.’ Both tracks were released as singles from the Futura album in 1975, with the economical lineup of Bill Nelson on guitar and vocals, Charlie Tumahai on bass and backing vocals and drummer Simon Fox. Keyboards were played by Nelson and overdubbed. Production was by Queen alumnus Roy Thomas Baker, who gave the band a sharp clean sound.

Tragically for fans of rock guitar, Bill Nelson later exchanged Be-Bop Deluxe for Red Noise and, along with his hollow-body Gibson ES-345, disappeared into new wave, synth pop and ambient(1). He worked with experimental champions such as Harold Budd, Roger Eno, Robert Fripp, Gary Numan, David Sylvian and others. In 1996, Nelson augmented his sound with drum and bass for After The Satellite Sings, which some claim was an influence on Reeves Gabrels‘ instrumentation and production on the Earthling album (1997) by David Bowie. By this time, Nelson had come full circle.

This evening, I was completing a form in Word, which requested that I crossed out one of two statements that did not apply. I thought the best way to answer would be to strikethrough(2), although it is something I have never used in Word 2003. A Google search revealed an article written by Diana Huggins for Locker Gnome(3), a site describing itself as, ‘Empowering the geek lifestyle; finding cool stuff for you since 1996!’ And a very useful site it is too. The instructions are in plain English for a numbskull like me. These are Ms Huggins’ instructions:

“You can apply Strikethrough formatting to text in Word using the steps described below.
1. Select the text that you want to change.
2. On the Format menu, click Font, and then click the Font tab.
3. Select the Strikethrough or Double strikethrough check box.
4. Click OK to apply your changes.”

YouTube has lots of irritating features and one of them is the absence of a repeat button. To repeat a video in YouTube, type the word repeat after youtube in the URL. I cannot remember where I saw this, but it is very handy. Also very annoying is the Autoplay of a new video that you did not select. To switch this off, look in the top right hand corner of the screen. There is a little white circle in a blue box with a white tick, meaning Autoplay is switched on. Click and drag the circle to the left. The tick disappears and the box becomes grey, which means it is off.

(1) A contributor to Amazon, described Bill Nelson’s original style as ‘Ziggy-plays-Yes’, and his subsequent change in style as being ‘like Jimi Hendrix recording an album on the flugel horn’:
(2) Strikethrough – a horizontal line through the middle of the selected text, primarily useful for tracking changes made to text.
(3) Thanks to Diana Huggins of Locker Gnome:


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