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The Love That Whirls

Bill Nelson

album - 25 June 1982

Love That Whirls - Cover


01)  Empire Of The Senses

02)  Hope For The Heartbeat

03)  Waiting For Voices

04)  A Private View

05)  Eros Arriving

06)  The Bride Of Christ In Autumn

07)  When Your Dream Of Perfect Beauty Comes True

08)  Flaming Desire

09)  Portrait Of Jan With Flowers

10)  The Crystal Escalator In The Palace Of God Department Store

11)  Echo In Her Eyes (The Lamps Of Oblivion)

12)  The October Man


The Love That Whirls is album that mixes vocal and instrumental pieces issued on the Mercury label.  It was recorded between April and November 1981 at Ric Rac Studios, Leeds, England and Rockfield Studios Monmouth, Wales.

The album was Nelson's first full length album of songs since Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam, most of which was recorded in 1979.  The album reached No. 28 in the UK charts and was promoted by the singles Eros Arriving and Flaming Desire, both of which briefly spent time in the UK Top 100 singles chart.

The Love That Whirls represented a change in sound for Nelson's solo work when compared to his most recent previous output, as it featured a brightly polished production and a state of the art drum sound.  All instruments were played by Nelson apart from "vibraslaps" on "Empire of the Senses" (played by Jan Nelson) and drums on "The October Man" (played by Bogdan Wiczling).
When originally released on vinyl and cassette, the first 10,000 copies of The Love That Whirls came packaged with a limited edition free album, La Belle et la Bête, Nelson's second soundtrack work for the Yorkshire Actors Company.


The Love That Whirls was initially issued on CD on Cocteau (1986), and featured a remix of "Hope for the Heartbeat" in place of the vinyl version.  For the Mercury reissue (2005), both mixes were included, with the remix as a bonus track.     

When issued on CD in the U.S. in 1989, fans were presented with an altered version of the album.  Both the fan favorite "Empire of the Senses" and the single "Flaming Desire" were deleted from the original running order, while four songs from period singles were added.  This was done in an effort to make sure the track listing on the independent (Enigma) CD reissue did not overlap with the CD of the major label (CBS) U.S. compilation album, Vistamix.

1989 U.S. CD of The Love That Whirls:

)  When The Birds Return (From the Sleepcycle club EP)

02)  Hope For The Heartbeat (Remix from the U.S. promo single)

03)  Waiting For Voices

04)  A Private View

05)  Eros Arriving

06)  The Bride Of Christ In Autumn

07)  Flesh (From the Eros Arriving double single)

08)  He And Sleep Were Brothers (From the Eros Arriving double single)

09)  When Your Dream Of Perfect Beauty Comes True

10)  Dancing On A Knife's Edge (From a club EP of the same name)

11)  Portrait Of Jan With Flowers

12)  The Crystal Escalator In The Palace Of God Department Store

13)  Echo In Her Eyes

14)  The October Man


In 2005 Mercury reissued The Love That Whirls as a remastered CD, producing the definitive edition of the album, which is still available.  The package was well presented with sleeve notes and photographs, and contains the original version of the album as released in 1982, together with five bonus tracks taken from singles issued contemporaneously with the album.  Note that all of the bonus tracks on the Mercury had previously appeared on the Cocteau compilation The Two Fold Aspect of Everything (a collection that sorely deserves a reissue).     

Extra songs on the 2005 CD:
07)  Flesh (Eros Arriving b-side)
08)  He And Sleep Were Brothers (Eros Arriving b-side)
15)  Haunting In My Head (Eros Arriving b-side)
16)  Hope For The Heartbeat (remix) (promotional single)
17)  The Passion (Flaming Desire b-side)

Chimera, Getting the Holy Ghost Across, Living for the Spangled Moment, Blue Moons & Laughing Guitars,
Savage Gestures for Charms Sake, Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam, Practically Wired, Luminous


"Let me explain the title.  It's actually based on a fact, rather than a poetic fantasy.  It has two direct connections...the first is to the 'whirling dervishes.'  These are Sufi dancers who use the whirling dance as a form of prayer and worship.  They are taught to love everything and their whirling dance is an expression of that love and a means of attaining divine ecstasy.  Hence 'The Love That Whirls.'

The other connection is to avant-garde film maker and occultist Kenneth Anger who, in 1949, made a film titled 'The Love That Whirls.'  The film was destroyed by the film processing laboratory who took it upon themselves to judge the film 'obscene.'

So, you see, these things are not just random words...they are connected to certain things that interest me and inform the mood of the album."

"Ironically, "October Man" is one of the tracks from that album which has, for me, stood the test of time.  (In that I can still play it live today without feeling as disconnected from it as much as some of the Be Bop stuff makes me feel).  It somehow escapes that '80s stylistic thing.  "Crystal Escalator", whilst quite different from "October Man" and difficult to perform live, retains, for me, a space-age, dub vibe which I still can listen to without embarrassment.  It conjures up a certain art-deco department store in Leeds that I was familiar with in the 1950s, and the escalators that seemed so magical to me as a child."


Radium Girl:

"I'm a bit lost for words actually, when I think about describing my feelings for The Love That Whirls.  I find it very strange that it's so hard to express...being that it is one of my favorite albums ever recorded.  Maybe that's it - it's so personal and the entire album, beginning to end is embued the most gorgeous sonically induced feels like a very special gift that I was given from Bill.  I haven't stopped listening to it since.  An essential record for me."


"Yeah this is the album that made me change from having a passing interest in Bill Nelson to a fan.  I still have my original vinyl copy complete with Belle et Bete, guess what I'll be playing tonight.  30 years old & a classic of its time!!"

play my theremin:

"I'm an admirer of Bill's songs, lyrics, and vocals ahead of his playing, exceptional though it is.  I don't enjoy the Be Bop Deluxe stuff much perhaps for this reason.  It seemed something happened around the time of The Love That Whirls that, for me, took him away from the band-member dynamic and let him flourish and mature as a singer/songwriter/producer, and he's gone from strength to strength in my opinion, and there are too many favourite vocals to list."


"Wow!!  The drum machine was percolating and the e-bow was soaring.  There was a lot of processing on these tracks, all done with a lot of taste.  The marimba was a very unique touch as well.  I had never heard the e-bow used so much or played so well.  Bill is a natural with this device which is not easy to master - I can tell you from my own experience!!"


"Empire of the Senses":  "always grabbed me when I first bought the album - that vocal passage of 'sound' rather than words that goes up and down in a sort of falsetto style.....very evocative and haunting."


"Empire of the Senses":  "has the wildest marimba solo you will ever hear."


"Empire of the Senses":  "is a great song - I love the Marimba and Vibroslap sounds.  This was the first BN album my wife admitted to liking which allowed me to bombard her with loads of other stuff."

Iron Man No. 28:

"Japanese director Nagisa Oshima had recently made the films In The Realm of the Senses (1976) and Empire of Passion (1978);  Bill's title "Empire of the Senses" conflates the two."


"This album has stayed with me and is part of who I am today.

PS - Does anyone else cry when the guitar solo from "The October Man" kicks in at the end of The Love That Whirls or am I the only one?  Gets me every time..."


"Sometime in 1985, I was 14 at the time, my uncle made me a tape of The Love That Whirls with the instructions "Play This Loud".  I did many many many times.  I still have that tape.

Then the same uncle introduced me to Sylvian's 'Gone to Earth.'

And a few years later when I got my first CD player I immediately (well as soon as I found them) bought The Love That Whirls, Sound on Sound, and Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam.  I have been enthralled with Bill's work ever since."

Chimera Man:

"The Love That Whirls led to a fascination and loyalty that has lasted 33 years."

Jet Silver:

"This is the first (of quite a few) Bill Nelson album I ever purchased.  On the strength of hearing one song on the radio and the intriguing cover image, imagine my surprise upon getting it home to discover a second album of instrumental music as well as a sheet of 'Cocteau Records' related merchandise to procure, (if only I had...).  The music inside the cover of course was worth thrice the price of admission and was a touchstone to a musical world that has become far more richer and wonderful than I could have ever imagined 30 years ago."

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