My Secret Studio, Vol. 1
album box set - December 1995
CD 1 - Buddha Head:
01) My Philosophy
02) Killing My Desires
03) Buddha Head
04) The Way
05) Big River
06) Karma Kisses
07) We Will Rise
08) Signs And Signals
09) Lotus In The Stream
13) Perfect World
14) The Heart Has Its Reasons
15) Sun Will Rise
16) The Big Illumination
17) Life As We Know It
CD 3 - Deep Dream Decoder:
01) Things To Come
02) God Bless Me
03) Rise (Above These Things)
04) Snowing Outside
05) It's All True
06) A Head Full Of Lights And A Hat Full Of Haloes
07) The Girls I've Loved
08) Amazing Things
09) Deep Dream Decoder
11) Year 44 (The Birthday Song)
12) Wing And A Prayer
13) Dreamnoise And Angel
14) Tired Eyes
15) Golden Girl
16) The Spark
CD 2 - Electricity Made Us Angels:
01) Begin To Burn
02) Heaven's Happy Hemisphere
03) God In Her Eyes
04) Float Away
05) Big Blue Day
06) Sweet Is The Mystery
07) If Wishes Were Horses
08) Fair Winds And Flying Boats
09) Ocean Over Blue
10) River Of Love
11) This Is Destiny
12) Wonders Never Cease
13) Nothing Yet
14) God Thundered Boy
15) She Sends Me
CD 4 - Juke Box For Jet Boy:
01) She's So Extreme
02) On A Train I Never Boarded
03) Sail Away
04) Only Dreaming
05) Swing With The Rhythm Boys
06) The King And Queen Of Now Or Never
07) Hold On To Your Heart
08) Turn Me Over
10) It’s Always Maybe
11) Dream Up, Billy
12) All You Need To Know
13) Warm And Wonderful
14) A Thing About That
15) No Fool For You
16) Living For Today
17) Birds In Blue Sky Again
My Secret Studio is a 4CD boxed set issued on the Resurgence label, issued as a limited edition of 2000 copies. All 4 albums were compiled from Nelson's archive of previously unreleased recordings made between 1988 and 1992. The tracks were arranged non-chronologically, making it impossible to know for sure when any track was recorded. The album sleeve notes that the recordings were made at The Echo Observatory, Studio Rose Croix, and Tape Recorder Cottage.
The 4 albums in the set were efficiently packaged in 2 two double slimline jewel cases housed inside a thick paper slip case, and were accompanied by a set of small cards in a polythene wallet. The package retailed at around £30 and was on catalogue for approximately 8 years before selling out.
Unlike previous Bill Nelson box sets, where the individual albums were soon released separately, My Secret Studio was handled slightly differently. The albums Buddha Head, Electricity Made Us Angels and Deep Dream Decoder were granted individual releases in 1997 on a Resurgence off shoot label, Populuxe, with each repackaged into its own jewel case. However, Juke Box For Jet Boy remained exclusive to the set.
The 4CD box set was reissued on February 24, 2017, as part of the Esoteric/Cherry Red reissue series. With this version, Cherry Red has separated each disc into its own mini-lp sleeve. The result is a design which is both less cluttered and more appealing. They also took the opportunity to remaster the set, which now boasts better sound than the original Resurgence box and Populuxe issues (both of which used the same master). Although the difference is not considerable, on the whole, the remastering brings more definition and clarity to the sound.
The album is currently out of print, but may reappear as a digital download via Bandcamp at some point.
IF YOU LIKED THIS ALBUM, YOU'LL PROBABLY ENJOY:
Luminous, Demonstrations of Affection, Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars, Practically Wired,
Confessions of a Hyperdreamer, Automatic, Excellent Spirits, Return to Tomorrow, Hip Pocket Jukebox
"For many years now, I've tried to apply what some people might think of as 'painterly techniques' to my music, at least to that aspect of it that lends itself to such techniques, (and sometimes to that which doesn't).
I suppose this involves a non-linear approach, treating sounds as blocks of colour, words as blips and signals, suggestions, rather than specific storytelling. Of course, (inevitably), my ingrained pop-sensibility comes into play, often unbidden, and creates certain recognisable shapes from the apparent formlessness, giving the listener an illusion of a song, even when my original intention is quite the opposite.
The music has a mutant form, perhaps, or, to employ painterly terms, it's a nebulous mix of expressionism and pop-art. But I strive not to become too po-faced or precious about it. (An arty-fartist is not an artist). I try to quash such self-indulgent pretensions as soon as they raise their ugly head. ('Though I sometimes allow them to peep above the parapet so that they can be shot down with the chuckling gatling gun of self-deprecation).
At the end of the day, it's all about a search for a unique and personal voice, one that expresses my life and inner experience as authentically and appropriately as possible. Whether it's considered by others to be rubbish or genius is besides the point. It's not about competing in the rock/pop music marketplace, or hitting certain technical/athletic 'muso' standards...it's simply about a very personal take on life itself, with all its trivia, magic and mystery."
"The 'ambient' things, the 'rock' things, the 'pop' things don't exist as separate, discreet entities in my creative heart, they're just facets of one, personal, unchanging musical expression.
I personally regard all these categorisations as outward manifestations of a single interior vision, rather than some kind of split-personality or any desire to appear 'multi-talented'. And I've never really abandoned anything, it's all still there...the guitars, the pre-occupations, the same world-view...I've not 'gone ambient' or 'gone rock' as if changing my spots. I guess it's not the form that's important, it's the inner content, the motivation, the 'soul' that sets it reeling.
The musical garment I've woven over all these years, from Northern Dream to now, constitutes a single, seamless piece of material. Study it closely from top to bottom, going beneath the immediate surface and you'll see what I mean. It's a single organic piece of work, rather than a linear, chronological series of dislocated cuttings.
Just thought I'd point these things out as they are very much a part of the philosophy than provides the foundation of everything I do in creative terms. It's all one continuous song, sung over a lifetime. It's the only song I know."
"After listening to all 4 discs multiple times, I fell in love with this set. The whole thing has a warm, intimate feel to it that also radiates joy, hope and compassion. There are a few dark moments here and there, but for the most part is positive and uplifting, lyrically and musically. I'm glad that Bill never got the chance to translate these song into a band setting. The sense of warmth and intimacy may have been lost with a band. What we get with this set is raw Bill, at his most vulnerable and hopeful. An intimate evening with Bill. Highly recommended! This set will be re-issued by Cherry Red sometime in the future. Miss it at your own loss!"
Deep Dream Decoder: "What's really amazing is what an understated yet complex collection of tunes this is. Bill's vocals are laid-back, but wrestling with universal issues & emotions. Nothing is "downer" in any way. There is a continual focus on the positive here. And it goes without saying, that the guitar & instrumentation is spot-on throughout."
Which of Bill's albums would you take on an island: "The box set of My Secret Studio Vol 1. Mr N seemed to have found himself in fine form with ideas to spare on that collection, and it's the one I return to the most."
"MSS1 is among the most perfectly constructed of Bill's 'archive' releases. It's a shame that Juke Box for Jet Boy is so rare, as I think it's the best of the four! "Swing with the Rhythm Boys" is one of my favourite Nelson tracks ever; nothing better to wake up after a long night out.
But Buddha Head also has very, very beautiful tracks, think of "Big River" or "Lotus in the Stream". And somehow these lyrics say much more to me than the later songs about rocketships and satellites..."
"Juke Box for Jet Boy was never released individually, but incidentally I find it the best of the four! Some real stand-out tracks on it like "A Train I Never Boarded", and the extremely catchy "Swing with the Rhythm Boys", but it has a wonderful flow to it that never ceases and in my view not a single weak track."
"One of my favourite Nelson ditties is relatively rare as it's on Juke Box for Jet Boy. "Hold On to Your Heart" is worth the price of the box set alone. 2:16 of pure magic and some wonderful vocals. MSS 1 and 2 are both wonderful slices of BN and worthy of your attention though radically different. Buy them if you see them."
"Is it really as long ago as 1995 that this was released? Scary how time goes by so quickly. Such great songs - lost none of their resonance over time. "Heaven's Happy Hemisphere" is still a favourite of mine. And also "Perfect World", "Wonders Never Cease"...and several others..."
“My Secret Studio really opened my eyes. I personally think it is Bill’s greatest work and still listen to it to this day.”
“MSS Vol. 1 is one of my absolute favorite chunks of Nelsonica...MSS 1 yields rich rewards with prolonged exposure. The warm, dense mix beautifully complements the vulnerability of the lyrics and the singing...On MSS the songs are intricately constructed and fully fleshed, while the portrait I glean throughout is of a man coming out of a funk and reclaiming his confidence and his muse. That moment, on “Begin to Burn,” where he shyly asks, “May I play my guitar for you?”, and then rips out this searing lead - that’s where Nelson returns after some (again, for me) lost years in the ambient haze. And he hasn’t let up since.”
"I like the original 4-disc Secret Studio quite a bit. For me, it fills out a pretty distinct episode in the story - which also includes Luminous, Blue Moons, and (off to one side) Demonstrations of Affection. This is the period when Nelson took up "pop" song writing again in earnest, moving quickly from (IMHO) a rather creaky start around '87 to a whole lot of classic songs.
And this is where Nelson honed the low-key narrative-voice vocal style that would soon deliver the excellent beat-poet-derived lyrics of the techno-fied shiny spaceship period (Practically Wired, After the Satellite, Secret Studio 2, Atom Shop, Noise Candy)."