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Be Bop Deluxe - Modern Music CD (album) cover


Be Bop Deluxe


Crossover Prog

4.03 | 71 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Admirable Nelson

"Modern music" was the second release by Be Bop Deluxe in 1976, following the fine "Sunburst finish". The line up remained stable with Bill Nelson retaining the same musicians who had played on that album. First impressions of this release will be focused on the number of tracks, 15 in total including 9 on side two. All the songs are written "with intent to enchant" by Nelson.

Side one gathers together five 3-4 minute songs and a brief link track. As such, there is no room for any great development of the songs beyond simple pop rock numbers. There is no questioning the quality of tracks such as the opening "Orphans of Babylon" which has a fine melody and an excellent vocal performance by Nelson. Unfortunately, the track is symptomatic of the album as a whole in that his guitar is not troubled by any virtuoso playing. The song simply cries out for a guitar solo and a more adventurous arrangement.

Here and there, such as on "Twilight capers", the band revert to their Bowie influences which were so apparent on early albums. Once again, a really good song which could have been taken beyond it simple pop structure. The brief "Bird charmer's destiny" is a delicate song with imaginative lyrics which leads into another reflective pop ballad "The gold at the end of my rainbow", a song which the Moody Blues would have been proud of. The reflective nature of a number of the songs is countered by the occasional upbeat pop rock track in the vein of "ships in the night", such as "Bring back the spark" and "Kiss of light".

The second side is a series of linked pieces in the way of the second side of "Abbey road" or "Foxtrot", the loose theme of "Modern music" being a metaphor for modern life, specifically in the USA. Lyrics such as "I left my home some time ago, to fight the creatures of the USA, you tell me that this neon world is free, you say this is the place I ought to be, the time has come for me to go, you say it's fast but it's feeling slow today.." plus the title of the instrumental which follows ("Dance of the Uncle Sam humanoids"), indicate a growing cynicism on the part of Nelson towards modern ways.

As with "Supper's ready", the tracks bind together to form a whole which is much more than the sum of the parts, the suite having a coherency and melodic appeal which lifts it from the pop direction the band were otherwise pursuing.

In all, a fine successor to "Sunburst finish". Although the album is frustratingly lacking in virtuoso soloing by the gifted Bill Nelson, the light prog overtones of the second side make it worthy of investigation.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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