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Be Bop Deluxe - Live In The Air Age CD (album) cover

LIVE IN THE AIR AGE

Be Bop Deluxe

 

Crossover Prog

3.52 | 16 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars No modern music here

After a series of creditable studio albums, Be Bop Deluxe released this live coda to their most creative years. A further studio album "Drastic plastic" would be released in the band's name the following year, but it would be a poor relation to albums such as "Sunburst finish". According to Nelson, the band considered their live performances to be completely separate to their studio albums, in that they were, as he puts it, "a single event, experienced then gone forever". His decision to release this album was based on the fact that Be Bop Deluxe were "opening a new chapter in their development". The recordings are all taken from a UK tour by the band in the spring of 1977.

There are songs here from each of the first three albums, with "Sunburst finish", understandably contributing no less than four. Interestingly, there is nothing from the then current album "Modern music". Three of the "Sunburst Finish songs feature on the first side of the live LP. "Life in the air age", which is adapted slightly for this album's title, and "Ships in the night" kick things off, the latter being a rather pared back version of the band's biggest hit single, devoid of the sax playing of Nelson's brother Ian.

A couple of the songs here had not previously been recorded although the first, "Piece of mine", had been played live for about 2 years. It is a rather prosaic mid-paced new wave influenced song which appears to leave the audience only politely impressed.

The 9 minute "Shine", which occupies the whole of one side of the EP, is a lengthy jam featuring the keyboards (mainly piano) of Andy Clark and of course Bill Nelson's guitar. The second side of the EP contains two tracks from "Futurama". Both songs contain some good guitar work, but it is kept all too brief.

The second side of the LP contains just three songs. "Mill street junction" is the second of the previously unrecorded songs. It was written by Nelson soon after he formed Be Bop Deluxe, but it never made it onto an album. The lyrics lack the maturity of later material such as the songs on "Modern Music", but it sounds reasonably good in a live environment. "Adventures in a Yorkshire landscape" is considerably extended from its original version on "Axe victim". This is primarily to allow Nelson to finally come forward with one of his fine lead guitar solos. This is what makes this collection worthwhile, and is by far the best thing on the album. We close with a fourth track from "Sunburst finish", "Blazing apostles", which wraps things up superbly in upbeat fashion.

Apart from the excellent "Adventures in a Yorkshire landscape", there is little here to get excited about. The previously unheard songs will only be of interest to the devoted fan of the band, and the versions of the rest are competent but unremarkable. One major disappointment is the absence of "Crying to the sky", which for me is the best song the band recorded. Nelson's guitar work would surely have sounded wonderful played live.

Incidentally, the correct running order according to the LP sleeve is to play side A of the album, then sides A and B of the EP, then side B of the album.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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