How does one annotate a four-decade-plus career as prolific -- and sometimes as obscure -- as guitarist, songwriter, composer, and pop conceptualist Bill Nelson's? With an enormous box set, of course. The founder of Be Bop Deluxe has released 51 solo albums under different monikers. His entire career to date has been documented by Cherry Red's Esoteric Records via Nelson's own label Cocteau, in a lavishly designed, eight-CD box set, curated by Nelson and Esoteric label boss Mark Powell. It also includes an exhaustively annotated booklet filled not only with a liner essay, but loads of rare photos and reflections from Nelson. The first two discs in the set document selections from his very first album, Northern Dream, with Nelson as a singer/songwriter. It was recorded in 1970 and released in 1971. It's followed with tracks from every Be Bop Deluxe recording, and contains rare B-sides and extraneous material. Disc two ends with his first recordings after the breakup of Be Bop in 1978, when he emerged as Bill Nelson's Red Noise in 1979; the latter's only recordings were the album Sound on Sound and the EP Revolt Into Style. The final track on disc two is the A-side single, "Do You Dream I Colour," under Nelson's own name in 1980. Then begins a wondrously illuminating, four-disc trawl through Nelson's labyrinthine solo career. These discs are made up equally of '80s home studio tapes of his commissions for theater and cinema, ambient works and songs, and his more formally produced recordings, such as his two albums as Orchestra Arcana. They move into the '90s with his formal return to songwriting and recording with an ambition and execution that puts David Bowie to shame. There are cuts from the stellar Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars, Jukebox for Jet Boy, Practically Wired...Or How I Became Guitar Boy, After the Satellite Sings, and Atom Shop, to mention a few. There are numerous sides from 12" EPs and 7" singles provided as well. Disc seven is devoted to Nelson's material from the first decade of the new century, of which there were 15 albums! This disc offers tracks that display Nelson's requisite sense of humor (three album titles: Stargazing with Ranger Bill, Alchemical Adventures with Sailor Bill, Golden Memories of Tomorrow), as well as his vast experimentation with a wide array of styles, from shimmering acoustic guitar workouts to electro-jazz constructs to majestic ambient works to intimate classical tone poems, all infused with 21st century futurism. The final disc in the package compiles tracks from John Peel's and David "Kid" Jensen's shows at the BBC's Radio One in the '80s. In sum, while it's an intimidating amount of material, it is more than worth going through. Despite Nelson's relative obscurity in North America, he is followed and celebrated across the rest of the globe. Aside from his well-deserved reputation as a gifted guitarist, Nelson is one of Britain's most original and creative artists. His astonishing diversity and mastery of so many musical styles is singular in contemporary music.