01) The Lamplighter's Lament
02) Tick Tock Ticking
03) Wide Awake In The Heart Of You
04) The Winter Mermaid
05) Strictly For The Birds
06) Plastic Mac
07) House Of Mystery
08) Ghosts Of Utopian Cities
09) The Woman Of Tomorrow
10) Vulcan Street
11) Serene In Silver
12) What's A Boy Supposed To Do?
13) My Life In Neon, My Life In Sound
14) Lost Light
15) The Last Lamplighter (For John Henry Griffiths)
The Last Lamplighter is an album of songs and instrumentals issued as a download only via Nelson's Bandcamp page issued on 24th August 2019.
Originally titled The Last Lamplighter (Return to Vulcan Street), the subtitle was dropped at the artwork stage.
The album was recorded between January and May 2019 and was largely compiled from material that had been omitted from the Stand By: Light Coming... album issued simultaneously.
The recordings making up this album are likely to be amongst the last completed on Nelson's trusted recording and mixing set up that has served him so well since 2002. This operational change stemmed from Nelson's Mackie D8B mixing console having become unreliable and expensive to repair. It will be interesting to see how Nelson makes the transition to his new computer-based system that he acquired in March 2019 and which will receive its inaugural use in time for his next recording project.
Amongst the guitars used on these recordings were two new acquisitions – a Backlund Super 100 MDX purchased by Nelson's fan base in honour of his 70th birthday the previous December and a Musicvox Space Cadet that Nelson acquired from the funds left over from the donations received for the birthday gift.
The album took shape immediately after Nelson had selected material for Stand By: Light Coming... on 18 April 2019. The starting point for this was to select the best material from the 11 surplus recordings from the January to April recording sessions. As this material was insufficient to make up a full album, Nelson recorded additional tracks in late April and early May 2019. He then added in two tracks, 'Serene in Silver' and 'The Woman of Tomorrow' recorded for, but not used on, Auditoria and Drive This Comet Across the Sky.
The Last Lamplighter was mastered at Fairview by John Spence on 10 May 2019.
With the album successfully mastered, Nelson turned his attention to the album artwork. Assembly of the sleeve design fell to Martin Bostock working with images that Nelson had selected as the recording sessions that resulted in this album neared completion.
Available for purchase as a digital download here in the Dreamsville Store.
'The Last Lamplighter':- "Is a brand new album and is intended as a companion piece to 'Stand By: Light Coming...'
Many of its tracks were originally intended for the latter album but running times dictated otherwise. I decided to combine them with tracks I'd laid aside for an album titled 'Vulcan Street', an album and title I'd abandoned. A few more tracks were also recorded to make up the track count and the 'The Last Lamplighter' was the end result.
'The Last Lamplighter,' at first, had a subtitle: ('Return To Vulcan Street,') but this was dropped from the final artwork.
"The album contains 15 tracks of mostly vocal-based songs but with a couple of instrumental interludes. It has an eclectic mix of styles.
"The title track is dedicated to my Great Grandfather on my Mother's side of the family, (John Henry Griffiths,) who actually worked as a lamplighter in the city of Wakefield in the 1930s and '40s. He passed away in the early 1950s when I was very young but I can remember visiting him in his bedroom at Marriot's Buildings where I was born. He spent his last couple of years in bed and seemed to be a gentle old man although my Mother tells me that he was sometimes difficult and often drunk when she was a child. She acknowledges that he mellowed in his old age and that he liked and looked forward to seeing me. My Mother also recalls, as a young girl, sometimes accompanying him on his rounds as a lamplighter on the then cobbled streets of Wakefield. A romantic image that inspired the album's title track.
"What was to be the central track of 'Vulcan Street' is also included on the album. 'Vulcan Street' conjures images of terrace houses, infernal factories and sparks and fire in my mind, the industrialised grey and foggy North of the 1940s and '50s. Had there been a Vulcan Street in Wakefield back then, I'm sure it would have had its lamps lit by my Great Grandfather.
"This new album is a download only release and is exclusively available from my Bandcamp page or via the link this website. It comes complete with downloadable artwork which you can print out to use when burning the album to a CDR.
I hope you will enjoy it!"
"Have been more or less constantly working on the 'overflow' album, titled 'The Last Lamplighter,' which will contain tracks that did not find a place on the 'Stand By: Light Coming...' album. Some tracks were left off that album because there wasn't room for them, others were left off because they didn't really feel right to me, (although several fans have expressed an interest in hearing them.) So, I've been experimenting with different track lists for 'The Last Lamplighter' in an attempt to make an interesting album from the left over material.
"After some soul searching, I think I've come up with a good solution. A few of the left over tracks have now definitely been consigned to the waste bin. These are not songs that I consider worth hearing and I certainly won't miss them. Others, however, sound ok and I have included them in the album.
"But to make sense of it all, I've had to record some new tracks to not only bring the track count up to scratch, but to add mood and variety. I now feel the album has a real purpose, both as a companion piece to 'Stand By: Light Coming...' and as an album in its own right."
"And what about 'The Last Lamplighter (Return To Vulcan Street.)'? This is an album made up of tracks left over from the sessions that produced 'Stand By: Light Coming...' so, inevitably, a certain amount of the thematic structure is carried over from one album to the other. There are a couple of references to 'clocks ticking' and the passage of time in these songs too, but there are a few diversions, particularly in the five instrumental tracks that are included to break up the vocal ones.
"As for the sonic qualities of these albums, I'd say that they were textured and richly rendered, noisy at times, spontaneously put together, never perfectly executed, sometimes abrasive, quirky, even scary, sometimes tender and naive. Hopelessly flawed, but perhaps forgivably and poetically so. At the end of the day, it's just stuff that emerges from Being."
"Well, I'm on my own, it's late and everyone else here is peacefully resting...I've just, literally, just finished my first full listen through of this new album of Bill's and I really don't know what to say...don't know where to start...I certainly won't try some kind of mini-review or walkthrough, I think all I'm going to say is that it's just knocked my socks off!...It really is absolutely wonderful and the whole one hour? (I think) running time seemed like it was over in a flash.
I honestly think Bill is currently writing and composing some of the best music of his life, it really is quite superb and I think The Last Lamplighter is right up there...I believe Bill just gets better and better as the years go on, and you can't say that, with hand on heart, about too many musicians.
I wouldn't do the album justice with any form of track reviews, I won't highlight any specific songs, but I will say it's a 'killer' album, every track is a gem. I think it's been put together fantastically well, the running order sounds great, the interspersion of instrumental tracks perfectly placed and if there are any people out there who aren't sure whether to buy this download, I would urge you to go ahead, as I'm pretty sure you will love it!...If you don't, I'll regret it for you!
And, I just noticed it says on iTunes, 'Bill Nelson The Last Lamplighter Unknown Genre'...finally they begin to understand.
Great album Bill!!….seriously folks, don't miss this one."
"The more I listen to this wonderful album, the more I fall in love with it...It's actually competing with Sailor Bill... sometimes I think it might be my favourite Bill Nelson album.
...And!...any Be Bop fans that haven't jumped into Bill's solo recordings, well, that's fine too, but if you're looking for mind-blowingly fabulous guitar work, please try this album...Fantastically haunting, always touching the melancholy, reaching back to something we once knew, but definitely a firm message for the here and now!...gloriousness...it's superb!!"
"Another stunner...and very much a compliment to 'Standby'.
Worth any price of admission for just 'Strictly For The Birds' which towers amongst Bill's finest.
"With these most recent releases it's easy to hear Bill reaching for new expressions which straddle various aspects of his technique."
"Along with everything else that's great about this recording is it's a great rock 'n roll record as well, full of great rock grooves."
"Like fine, vintage wine, Bill Nelson's guitar virtuosity continues to improve with age. Case in point, this wonderful new release. Not to be missed! Thank you, Bill!"