BE BOP DELUXE – ” Modern Music “

Posted: November 4, 2021 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
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A closer look at the next title in the Esoteric Recordings Be Bop Deluxe reissue series: Modern Music, 4CD/1DVD Deluxe Boxset Edition, released December 6th! . For an artist registered and branded as one of guitar heroism’s most innovative players, Bill Nelson is not one to be stuck in the past or focused on the present. Always inventing, always evolving, and always looking to the next thing (and the thing after that) the Yorkshire, U.K.-based guitarist and songwriter made himself and his legendary first ensemble Be-Bop Deluxe into an anomaly from their first record. With 1974’s glam-era debut Axe Victim, Be Bop Deluxe added a progressive complexity and a daring density to the glittery genre, a dynamic previously unheard within Britpop’s most pomp and circumstantial sound. Nelson’s razor-sharp and soaring eletro-induced solos were a large part of that experimental esprit. Then and now, Nelson’s guitar scrawl sounds like no other. Increasingly catchy and chancy as time went on, 1976’s opulent Sunburst Finish and 1978’s Drastic Plastic are very much at one with their titles.

For all of its studio wizardry (produced by Nelson with John Leckie, eventually known for his work with Magazine and PiL), 1977’s Live! In the Air Age is Be-Bop Deluxe’s art-rock masterpiece: an elegant, sprawling mix of then-new, previously unrecorded and past work splayed across the dirtball nihilism of Brit-punk’s origin story. Recorded live on BBD’s 1977 tour just months before its release, “Live!” is fiery and hot wired for freshness. After they pressed their audacious 1977 concert LP, BBD stuck around for one more album (the aforementioned Drastic Plastic) before disappearing with Nelson moving forward and focusing on Cocteau-inspired solo work, another band (Red Noise), collaborations with fellow travellers in experimental electronic music (Yellow Magic Orchestra, David Sylvian, Roger Eno, Cabaret Voltaire), and an ongoing series of homemade ambient albums, previously unreleased epics, and other sonic explorations—all hung on a moon of fierce independence as an artist and as a releasing agent.

Nelson never looked back, until 2018’s four-album exploration of Sunburst Finish. That recently opened the door, thankfully, to a similarly sized four-LP “Axe Victim”, and now a whopping 15-CD/one DVD expansion of “Live! In the Air Age” to include every gig on that 1977 tour, along with freshly remixed and vividly remastered sound. Though an active blogging presence, Nelson doesn’t do many interviews, so our rare opportunity to speak with him is particularly choice.

Recorded in June and July 1976 at Abbey Road Studio Three, ” Modern Music” was the fourth album by Be Bop Deluxe and the second to feature the line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Charles Tumahai (bass, vocals) ,Andy Clark (keyboards) and Simon Fox (drums). Following on from the success and critical praise for the band’s previous album Sunburst Finish, the album was once more co-produced by Bill Nelson and John Leckie.

Much of the material appearing on the album was conceived by Bill Nelson whilst Be Bop Deluxe were undertaking their first tour of the USA in March 1976. The wonderful and expansive Modern Music “suite” which dominated the album was inspired by Bill’s experiences of America, the disillusionment with the US music business and a longing for home. Beside the fine achievement of the suite, MODERN MUSIC also featured other fine songs such as Orphans of Babylon, Kiss of Light, The Bird Charmers Destiny and the epic Down on Terminal Street, all of which ensured that the album was a hit in both the UK and the USA.

This expanded reissue has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features an additional 55 bonus tracks drawn from a stunning new 5.1 surround sound & stereo mixes from the original multi-track tapes by award winning engineer Stephen W. Tayler, previously unreleased out-takes from the album sessions, a BBC Radio “In Concert” performance from October 1976, along with a bonus CD of a previously unreleased “official bootleg” of a performance at The Riviera Theater in Chicago in March 1976 recorded for FM Radio on Be Bop Deluxe’s first US tour which features a rare jam entitled Bill’s Blues. The set also includes visual material taken from a session for BBC TV’s “Old Grey Whistle Test” show broadcast in November 1976.

Another highlight of this limited-edition boxed set is the lavishly illustrated 68-page book with many previously unseen photographs and an essay of recollections by Bill Nelson. Additionally, the set includes postcards and a replica poster. This special deluxe limited-edition boxed set of MODERN MUSIC is a fitting tribute to a fine band and the creative vision of Bill Nelson.

Re-mastered from the original master tapes with 55 bonus tracks drawn from stunning new 5.1 surround sound & stereo mixes, previously unreleased out-takes, BBC In Concert sessions, live performances & more!

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