Friday, 2 November 2018

Be-Bop Deluxe - Sunburst Finish Deluxe Edition (3CD and DVD)

One of the advantages of age is to witness the reassessment of artists that you loved when young. I remember ELO being largely disliked by the mass unwashed and at best being a guilty secret. Now everyone loved them all along.

Be Bop Deluxe are another example. To me, they were one of the best bands around. To many more, they were Second Division Rock. Bill Nelson was and still is one of the most innovative guitarists and although the band were incendiary live, you couldn't quite pigeon hole them.

Most Rock Guitarists didn't wear three piece suits or had short hair. Plus, the music was so diverse, in essence a sort of Sci Fi affair, but wrapped in Prog, Blues and Pure Pop. Nelson's Guitar Playing marked Be Bop Deluxe far in excess of average, bordering brilliant.

Now of course, everyone loved them, maybe they always did or feel guilty for missing them, hopefully many are discovering them. Sunburst Finish is the band's third album, a halfway point in their five album career. It's always probably the most accessible and maybe their best.

The Guitar solos of the first two are reined in, with a focus on the songs. Nelson still lets rip on Crying In The Sky and the magnificent Blazing Apostles took on a new life as a rock out live, it could last beyond 12 minutes. The former shows all you need to know about his axe hero reputation.

But the songs here veer more towards Pop Rock, beautifully so, particularly on the opener Fair Exchange, There's a ton of inventiveness across all eleven tracks. Ships In The Night is Pop Reggae, Life In The Air Age is Southern Rock. Sleep That Burns is a mix of the continental and Prog. Sunburst Finish is a masterful album, labelling Nelson as a Pop Rock star that you felt he never wanted to be.

Bill Nelson was not one to stand still. After the mixed reaction to the minimal BBD final album, Drastic Plastic, Bill Nelson's Red Noise was to virtually invent New Romantic and then head for an extensive solo career. His solo work encompasses Instrumental, Ambient and the odd Rock Out. All of it is wonderful and his prolific nature has cost me a lot of money over the years and is probably the best value for money that I've ever bought.

Esoteric have done a lovely job with the set. The 3 Audio CDs contain the remastered album and  2018 Stereo Mix plus outtakes. The third disc contains a 1976 BBC Radio 1 In Concert and a Peel Session.

The DVD contains the 5.1 Surround Stereo Mix plus Video from the 1976 appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test and the Promo Video for Ships In The Night. The Booklet is a 68 page extravaganza with an essay of Recollections from Bill Nelson.

Also included are a facsimile of The Sunburst Finish Tour Program, Postcards and a replica poster. This really is quite a set and a great testament to a fantastic band and a fantastic album. You can Pre-Order the deluxe version from Cherry Red here. There is also a link on that page to buy the cutdown 2 disc version.


  1. Looking forward to this release! Thanks for writing about it!

  2. I still have the vinyl I bought when it was first released, loved it then, still enjoy listening to it now. The first two albums had 'passed me by' but heard 'Ships In The Night' on the radio so had to by the album. It would seem that the John Peel session, is one that is missing from Bebop Deluxe At The BBC 1974 - 1978. I'm planning to buy this as I would like to hear a surround sound mix... just hope it's a good one.

  3. Bill's recent gigs with the Gentleman Rocketeers, which lived for awhile on YouTube, were absolutely astounding. The version of October Man (from "The Love That Whirls" solo l.p.), was so powerful I just wept. Thanks for this write up, very entertaining read.