top of page

Getting The Holy Ghost Across

album - 25 April 1986

Bill Nelson

Getting The Holy Ghost Across - Cover (W
Getting the Holy Ghost Across page 2
Getting the Holy Ghost Across page 6
Getting the Holy Ghost Across - Sonoluxe Cover
On A Blue Wing - Cover

2013 DISC 1:

01)  Suvasini                    

02)  Contemplation

03)  Theology

04)  Wildest Dreams

05)  Lost In Your Mystery

06)  Rise Like A Fountain

07)  Age Of Reason

08)  The Hidden Flame

09)  Because Of You

10)  Pansophia

2013 DISC 2:


01)  Wildest Dreams (Wild Mix) from the Wildest Dreams 12" single
Heart And Soul

03)  Living For The Spangled Moment

04)  Feast Of Lanterns

05)  Illusions Of You

06)  Word For Word

07)  Finks And Stooges Of The Spirit

08)  Nightbirds from the Living for the Spangled Moment EP

09)  Self Impersonisation (7" and 12" b-side)
10)  Wildest Dreams (7" a-side)
11)  The Yo-Yo Dyne (12" b-side) from the Wildest Dreams singles


Getting the Holy Ghost Across is a vocal album issued by Portrait Records, a CBS subsidiary. It would turn out to be Nelson's final album for a major label for over 6 years.

In the UK the album was issued on LP and cassette, with the latter containing five extra tracks and an exclusive extended version of "Because of You". These five bonus tracks would form the bulk of the Living For the Spangled Moment mini-album issued later that year (see separate entry).

Allegedly the album was due to be issued on CD, but CBS cancelled the release before copies hit the shops, and it would take 20 years before it officially appeared in that format.  

Getting the Holy Ghost Across was the subject of some controversy in the US, mainly due to Nelson's use of The Annunciation with St. Emidius (1486, by Carlo Crivelli) alongside occult script and symbolism on the album artwork.  Therefore, for the North American release it was released with an alternative title (On a Blue Wing) in re-designed artwork. If that wasn't confusing enough, the US album featured an alternative track listing, losing songs A3 and B2, but gaining 2 of the bonus tracks added to the UK tape ("Heart and Soul" and "Living for the Spangled Moment").




Such was the interest in a reissue of Getting the Holy Ghost Across that Nelson licensed the master tapes from Sony (who bought CBS in the 1990s) for a limited edition release on his own Sonoluxe imprint (2006). For this release Nelson added all seven tracks from the Living for the Spangled Moment mini-album, and "Yo-Yo Dyne" from the Wildest Dreams 12" single.



Although not part of the 22 album reissue programme licensed to Cherry Red in 2011, it was a pleasant surprise when Cherry Red announced the release of a 2CD edition of Getting the Holy Ghost Across in 2013. The remastered set improved on the Sonoluxe edition by restoring the original UK artwork, and included all 11 tracks issued across the Wildest Dreams 12" single and the Living for the Spangled Moment mini-album. 

This CD is available for purchase in the Dreamsville Store.


Luminous, Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars, Demonstrations of Affection, Simplex, Chameleon, Chimera,

The Love That Whirls, Living for the Spangled Moment, Dancing on a Knife's Edge, Life in Your Hands,



The album's title Getting The Holy Ghost Across and its occult/esoteric symbolism caused a problem with regard to getting the album stocked by a certain chain of record stores across the States. This chain was owned by a fundamentalist Christian family whose beliefs forbade them from stocking any album that might promote occult or esoteric philosophies.  The usual, ill-informed paranoia of the born-agains, I suppose. Anyway, because this particular chain of record stores represented an important source of sales it was decided to change the album title to On A Blue Wing and to redesign the cover art, removing any trace of magical, alchemical or occult symbolism. This was just for the American market of course, in the UK the album retained its original title and packaging."


"I haven't actually played the album for ages...but I do recall that much of the album was about my first falling in love with Emiko whilst I was still married to someone else."


From Acquitted by Mirrors 13:

"The script on the right is called Malachim. It is a coded alphabet that was used in Grimoires and it goes back to the Middle Ages. On the left is Enochian, also a magical language. This one was developed by a Dr John Dee who was the Court Astrologer to Queen Elizabeth the First. He was one of the most learned men in Europe at that time and had his own huge private library down in Mortlake out to the west side of London. The house is sadly long since knocked down but the site is still there. Dee worked with a man called Edward Kelly who was a kind of medium; it is said the two of them were given this alphabet through the means of a crystal ball. It is an entire language - very complex - in fact it has been checked out by modern-day language experts and it has all the attributes, it has grammar, syntax and so on. It is used again in a kind of angelic magic; but on the sleeve what they both say is 'Getting The Holy Ghost Across'.

"The script on the back is Hebrew and that of course says the same thing. The reason I used these is because they are all part of the things I have been studying. The Enochian system is used by a magical order that in fact still exists today under the surface. It is called 'The Order of the Golden Dawn' to which the infamous Aleister Crowley once belonged. Well a big chunk of their teachings are hinged around the Enochian Theory, so it is obviously something I am quite aware of."



Review on Goldmine Magazine


Jon Wallinger:

"Getting the Holy Ghost Across is probably the album that means the most to me in terms of my Bill Nelson "timeline". I had always been aware of Bill Nelson/Be Bop Deluxe from being a wee nipper and watching the rehearsals in the local village hall, but I never got into the music until the mid 80's and this album was the first that I had to wait for the release, I'd read some tantalising snippets of lyrics and info from the fan club magazines, the buzz of anticipation was unforgettable, bought the LP and Cassette version upon release and have loved it ever since."


"Getting the Holy Ghost Across is one of my favorites from Bill Nelson. An album that can be spiritual or iconoclastic depending on the perspective of the listener.

"To me it is a collection of songs about a man questioning everything: his world, his religion, his relationships. It has a certain intensity to it (in words & music) that I just love."

james warner:

"The themes of spirituality and religion dominate, however, it is not a sermon, but a celebration. An uplifting experience even for non-believers such as myself. This being an 80s release, there is a strong keyboard content in the music, but the guitar has all the more impact when it is used, particularly in 'The Hidden Flame' and 'Because of You'."


"Contemplation": "is probably my all time favourite Bill Nelson track, and that includes all the BBD stuff. I just love the prelude that "Suvasini" provides for the track and adore all the swirling eastern influences that pervade the song. Couple these with the funky, bass driven emphasis (not unusual in the mid 80's) and the legacy of lyricism and tuneship that we had from the BBD and QD days, then you have the perfect track."

Mr. Mercury:

"The GTHGA version [of "Contemplation"] remains one of the most gorgeous songs written in the latter part of the 20th Century, and my favourite version..."


"The album came out during a particularly rough romantic period in my life, and a couple of the songs really spoke to me.  When I heard 'Because of You', for example, for the first time, I teared just reached in and found an emotional chord in me and strummed it! The guitar in that song has such feeling..."


"Absolutely played the Heck out of this vinyl, when it was originally released (along with the Living For The Spangled Moment EP). 'Wildest Dreams' was an incredible slice of heaven."


"Some half mad whino shoved a copy of Getting the Holy Ghost Across into my hands and told me my life would never be the same. He was right!

"I've never heard anything like it before or since.

"One of my favorite albums of all time I think."


"I remember my parents assuming that Getting the Holy Ghost Across was a Classical LP.

"Regarding the Hebrew: In the late '80s, a girl I used to know who is from Israel I remember kept looking at that record cover and so I finally handed it to her. She explained to me that the Hebrew on the cover is actually "Getting The Holy Ghost Across" in English, written phonetically (in Hebrew characters). She spoke it as she read it and I remember her giggling as she read the word "across" as something like "eh-kro-ez," or similar. "That's very clever!" she laughed."


"It's the 2013 edition of Getting the Holy Ghost Across I just got my hands on. I must say, I have waited decades for this!  Listening to it, especially the remastering is like reacquainting with a dear old friend. Not only is this one of my favourite albums of Bill's but favourite period.

"I want to thank Bill for seeing fit to have this version released, because of the track programming, liner notes, and Bill's notes and reflections on this album. I am so grateful to have this. Definitely an aural treat."


"In the context of back in the day I always liked the material. With the expanded release and liner notes I would recommend this to anyone wanting to take a step back in time with regard to BN's body of work.
Call me nostalgic...the liner notes alone are worth the price of admission."


"Best album of the era. Hands down!
Even more tracks than Bill's Sonoluxe release. Buy it now."


bottom of page