album - 1971
01) Photograph (A Beginning)
02) Everyone's Hero
03) House Of Sand
04) End Of The Seasons
06) Love's A Way
07) Northern Dreamer (1957)
08) Bloo Blooz
09) Sad Feelings
10) See It Through
12) Chymepeace (An Ending)
Northern Dream is the debut album from Bill Nelson, recorded at Holyground Studios in Wakefield, and released independently on Smile Records. Holyground was an independent studio run by local music enthusiast Mike Levon. Nelson had a two year association with Holyground by the time he came to make Northern Dream in 1970, having made his recording debut on two Holyground releases, A to Austr (1969) and Astral Navigations (1970).
The Northern Dream album was financed by a couple of Nelson's friends (Ken and Betty Bromby), who owned and ran a small record shop, The Record Bar, in Wakefield. The intention was to press just 250 copies. The initial run was individually numbered, and came with a set of typed lyrics and a booklet. Its release date appears never to have been documented with any accuracy, and with it being an independent release, music papers and record company archives are of no help. The search for clues goes on.
Over the course of Nelson's career the album would be reissued several times on vinyl and ultimately CD, with perhaps the authoritative version being the 2011 reissue by Cherry Red/Esoteric on the newly created Cocteau Discs imprint. The 2011 reissue was also issued on vinyl in a limited run of just 250 copies.
The earliest reissue of Northern Dream is believed to have appeared in 1977 (unnumbered and minus the booklet/lyrics), but without the consent or knowledge of Levon and Nelson. A more visible reissue appeared in 1980 on Butt Records (in a sleeve featuring a reduced version of the original album cover on front and back), but didn't include the album's final track, "Chyme Peace". In the mid-80s, a fourth distinct pressing appeared (also on Butt Records) that curiously carries a production date of 1979 on the label. This issue has the picture of the bearded singer on the rear of the sleeve that had originally appeared on the inside of the original 1971 (& 1977) release. "Chyme Peace" is listed, but presumably isn't included (as per the third edition).
The album first appeared on CD in 1996 while Nelson was contractually being handled by Voiceprint. The record label created for this release was Smiled, as a nodding glance towards the original release. The digital transfer was created using Nelson's personal copy of the original vinyl edition.
Esoteric/Cocteau Discs released this album in 2011 as part of their re-issue program.
This CD is available for purchase in the Dreamsville Store.
IF YOU LIKED THIS ALBUM, YOU'LL PROBABLY ENJOY:
New Northern Dream, The Alchemical Adventures of Sailor Bill,
All That I Remember, Songs of the Blossom Tree Optimists, Electrotype
"The album cost very little to record and manufacture. There were initially only 250 copies made. Its costs, including printing, (the printing was done by the local Wakefield Express newspaper), were around £300. The money to manufacture it came from a local record shop that I used to be a regular customer of. I'd talked about wanting to record my songs and they offered to put up the money to do so.
The cover drawing was created in the sitting room of 27, Anderson St, Westgate End, Wakefield...my home at that time. I can remember kneeling on the floor, drawing it on a piece of white card or cartridge paper. Seems like only yesterday. The drawing was meant to be an almost Disneyesque or '50's style children's illustration of my boyhood bedroom. The view outside the window is supposed to be Wakefield itself. If you look closely, the books on the shelf reveal some of my interests as the 1960's rolled over into the 1970's.
The photo's were taken in Clarence Park in Wakefield, which had been one of my favourite places since infancy. The rear cover shot is of me sitting on the park's 'Arena' steps. They are on the edge of an open grassy space that once was used by my school for sports events. It had also, during my early boyhood, been the site of an annual fair and model aircraft displays, both of which I'd attended with my mum and dad.
I also organised Wakefield's first ever free open-air 'hippy' concert in that same park, on the old bandstand. It was quite an unusual thing for Wakefield at that time and made the local papers. I organised it from my desk at the West Riding County Supplies Department where I worked before becoming a professional musician.
Northern Dream also made the Wakefield Express's columns. There was a feature in the paper about it, with a photo of me under the headline: "Local Government Officer Makes L.P.". Of course, John Peel eventually played the album on his radio show and raved about it. The first time he played it, he played every track in sequence, with just a break to turn the disc over. It was an amazing thing for me...I'd listened to John's programmes for a long time and loved the sort of things he played. To have my entire first, 'home made' album played from start to finish by him was a tremendously exciting honour."
"I owe my career, such as it is, to John Peel. He was so important in bringing Northern Dream to a radio audience and ultimately the attention of EMI Records who, after some deliberation, agreed to sign my band Be Bop Deluxe to the Harvest Label, (though they were initially only wanting to sign myself as a solo artist)."
'Smile Records' was simply a name I dreamed up. I drew the record label design myself. There was no 'Smile Records' company as such. That was just an illusion. It was a completely independent release."
Review on It's Psychedelic Baby
"I am the widow of Mike Levon of Holyground Records and it is good to see the recognition of Holyground for Northern Dream and Electrotype, thank you. With regard to Northern Dream, Bill was a good friend, and Mike always recognised his genius, for that reason there was no charge for Mike recording Bill, only the £15 which was the cost of the actual tape. Mike never had a copy of the original recording which went to Bill's friends at the Record Bar, who would not allow Mike to make a copy for himself."