I came across this while archiving old files from my computer. A barely readable scan (text too small/compressed) of a review of Bill and Vini Reilly playing at Nottingham in 1981. A quick search on the web revealed nothing larger or better quality. But it seems a nice piece of history, with a fairly substantial review, so here's my attempt at transcript followed by an upscaled photo. Wish I'd been at the gig!
**Review starts - from NME, I think ***
This affair of experimentation arranged by the local guitar society packed a pub jazz venue to capacity. On stage first, Vini Reilly is an unassuming figure in a blithely tasteless sweater, nervously announcing that since he hasn't been able to find a drummer he is playing with a drum machine whose workings he hasn't managed to master.
After his initial embarrassment, Reilly makes a diffident, delicate music. Graceful, airy guitar patterns float around the harder core of mechanical rhythm, creating a cool, quiet sound that seems to spread and hover around the small stage. Reilly's restraint is restful and the overall effect refreshing. I preferred his instrumentals, since lyrics tended to intrude on the pristine classicism of his sounds and left less to the imagination.
With his studious spectacles, clean cut good looks and elegant military evening dress, Bill Nelson looks like a college graduate turned temporary holiday bell-hop. Urbane, charming, something of a showman in an understated way, he begins by explaining that his accompanying tapes were compiled late last night and are intended as an integral part of the performance. Neither Nelson nor his saxophonist have rehearsed the set, and when they forget what they're doing, Bill produces a portable cassette recorder with a rather theatrical flourish to play back a snatch of the song.
Sipping wine as if to emphasise the informality of the evening and inserting politely chatty explanations of technique, Nelson plays silky, sustained guitar accompanied by mellow sax in a dreamily ambient set of songs. Slow, sinuous melodies unfold in a variety of atmospheric settings that range from clipped Eastern echoes to a soft Latinate shimmer.
Each track is kept fairly short to reduce the impression of indulgence and when heard in different surroundings, adds their creator, he hopes they will prove to be dance tunes. In fact most of the music is too ethereal and fitfully meandering for the dance floor, but when Bill breaks into a passage of fluid, distilled funk guitar the effect is both technically impressive and emotionally exhilarating.
Drifting from one smooth stream of sound to another in songs often so similar that they seemed to intermingle, like most improvisation, the music appeared to give the greatest pleasure to its protagonists. Nevertheless the audience weren't short on appreciation and the applause seemed to be equally distributed between Bill Nelson as a personality and the results of his endeavours.
Nelson himself was careful to stress that he attached no great importance to his spontaneous sketches and regarded the event as an incidental chance to experiment. Taken as such and with an enthusiastic makeshift atmosphere and warm responsive rapport that made a welcome slant on the standard rock concert, its results were unusually entertaining. -- Lynn Hanna