Be Bop Delux – The Be Bop Delux Collection

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Album Reviews by EDF

The British music scene has a way of producing a wide and varied selection of musicians and none more so than Bill Nelson. Who is Bill Nelson, I can hear you ask. Coming from Yorkshire, Nelson formed Be Bop Delux in 1972 and eventually got signed to the Harvest Records label, thanks to the group being championed by the late great DJ John Peel. The group released AXE VICTIM, their debut album in 1974. After they had finished touring, Nelson changed the line-up twice before recording the FUTURAMA album in 1975.

Not sure if he wants to sound like David Bowie, Nelson approached the songs with a mixture of rock, pop and sometimes epic over blown nonsense. The track that best features all of these attributes is SOUND TRACK. Listening to tracks such as these, you begin to understand why punk came about. The track just aimlessly ambles along without a satisfying conclusion. MUSIC IN DREAMLAND is another track that just brings the whole album down, sounding like two ideas running along side of each other instead of coming together to produce coherent piece of music. The quiet, acoustic JEAN COCTEAU is easily the best track here mainly because Nelson keeps it simple. BETWEEN THE WORLDS is a rip-roaring stomp through some outrageous arrangements. Overall, the impression you are left with is one of bemused bewilderment to what you just heard.

Be Bop Delux started off 1976 with a new album, SUNBURST FINISH and followed it up in September 1976 with MODERN MUSIC. As soon as the first track kicks in, ORPHANS OF BABYLON, one word comes to mind, Queen. While Nelson is a pretty handy guitarist, by now you can guess what he had been listening to in-between albums. KISS OF LIGHT starts off with a Thin Lizzy type intro and then the awkward sounding lyrics drag the song down. MODERN MUSIC starts off with the search for a radio station on the dial and see if you can spot John Peel in there somewhere. HONEYMOON ON MARS sounds like Nelson’s homage to David Bowie’s Life On Mars.

1977 saw the release of the obligatory live album. As with most live albums ever released, “LIVE IN THE AIR AGE” is more of a document of what the band were like at the time and would have been bought by those who had attended their concerts. Except for the cheering, it is hard to believe that this is a live album, although I suspect that there must have been some postproduction work done on this.

Then something strange happened during the recording of the DRASTIC PLASTIC album. Keyboards seemed to feature a lot more on the album, originally released in February 1978. This album did not really do much to gain them any new fans, as the songwriting did not take any radical change of direction to complement the group’s evolving sound. Impressing, “LOVE IN FLAMES” sounds a little like The Stranglers, mainly due to the way the keyboards are featured on the track. “POSSESSION” is Nelson’s view to how the punk explosion was affecting teenager’s attitudes. “BLIMPS” is just too bizarre to describe and sounds like it comes from the TV show Sapphire and Steele.

Nelson disbanded the group shortly after the release of DRASTIC PLASTIC and formed Red Noise shortly after, which only lasted for one record. Still touring these days as Bill Nelson and The Lost Satellites, EMI have also released an ‘introduction to’ compilation called POSTCARDS FROM THE FUTURE, but unlike that song that says that the futures is so bright that you gotta wear shades, at times the future here does not sound that exciting at all.

FUTURAMA  3 stars