Top positive review
More or less all the Be-Bop Deluxe you'll ever need!
on 22 October 2012
Years ago I purchased 'Futurama' and 'Modern Music' on vinyl and felt then as I do now, that BBD were a major talent that should been a lot more commercially successful then was the case in reality. This is truly a great set- it's very comprehensive, nicely packaged (sleevenotes are informative if a tad anodyne)and it is reasonably priced.The demo material is of some merit, especially the rather intriguing 'Heavenly Homes' and 'The Saxophonist',but as you'd expect they are works in progress and must be appreciated in that same spirit.
However having all the studio albums in place confirmed a suspicion that Bill - great guitarist, musical visionary and on his day inspired songwriter that he was and is,could have a been little more inclusive in terms of collaboration with other band members. This might have led to more consistency and perhaps a little less of the occasionally overwrought,needlessly intricate arrangements that tend to clutter things up a rather too much on occasion.I'm not sure that Bill was ever really comfortable with the idea that BBD were a 'straight ahead' rock band. Bill's musical vision stretched from the sublime pop-rock of 'Maid in Heaven' to the fascinating but bizarrely off-kilter art-song that is 'Futuristic Manifesto' and then into areas that might be described as jazz fusion.Perhaps he was and is, an artist for whom musical labels mean nothing, leaving it very difficult for audiences to precisely identify exactly what brand 'Nelson' stands for,hence his relatively limited appeal.
I brought this set so that I could get my hands on 'Futurama','Modern Music' and individual tracks such as the beautiful 'Visions of Endless Hopes' and the stunning 'Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape'. 'Axe Victim' has its moments with tracks like 'Rocket Cathedrals' but remastering has has not disguised the quasi demo like feel of the production. 'Drastic Plastic' sounds like an experiment that stretched the idea of what Nelson could put out under the BBD moniker way to far for the existing fan base. It was a brave experiment but the songs for the most part are not amongst Bill's better efforts and they tend to groan under the weight of the arrangements.
In summation then -I rate this set. I must confess I thought the remastering could have been a bit sharper, especially 'Futurama', an album that sounds great on vinyl as you'll appreciate if you are ever lucky enough ever to track down a decent copy. If you are a guitar player, this collection is definitely required listening. Bill is astonishing through out- his tone, taste and ability to create excitement puts him in the premier league of guitarists.In my opinion, Bill Nelson could just about anyone a run for their money- he is simply brilliant.
So, despite my quibbles and groans, this is a great set and very good value. Recommended.