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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


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chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was originally released as a single vinyl album with 3 of the tracks (8-10) on an additional 7" EP. Here the band took the studio originals and turned them into something different. The sound quality is excellent, one of the best I've heard on a live album, and the playing is extremely tight. Songs such as "Fair Exchange" and "Blazing Apostles" work far better in a live setting, "Ships in the Night" is given a kick by being played at a much faster speed, the instrumental "Shine" is given a much longer workout and the guitar playing on "Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape" is as good as any you'll hear. "Maid In Heaven" is perhaps the only song not improved on here, mainly due to the number of guitar overdubs on the original, but overall this is a brilliant live album and a must-have for Be Bop Deluxe fans.

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Send comments to chopper (BETA) | Report this review (#81886)
Posted Saturday, June 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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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.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#135838)
Posted Sunday, September 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The music of Be Bop Deluxe must have passed through my collection at some point, years ago. But after revisiting the band through this 1977 live album it's easy to see how they never found a stable foothold in my vinyl library, and (on a much larger scale) why the band couldn't make that leap from popular cult act to superstardom.

In retrospect, I hear a young quartet of capable, efficient musicians unable to find a distinctive style to call their own. The sound of the band on this disc, which as a live set from late in their career can also be heard as a more or less representative best-of-Be Bop Deluxe collection, is strictly quintessential but hardly classic mid '70s guitar rock, without enough hooks to hold onto after thirty-plus years.

Certainly there's nothing here approaching the pure electronic energy and (at the time) innovation of guitarist Bill Nelson's techno-pop solo albums from the early 1980s. And none of his unique visual fixation with Jean Cocteau or post-war suburban Americana and beatnik culture.

But on the other hand, without even being familiar with the original studio albums, without even being a fan of the group, I have to acknowledge what an excellent live album this is, as a piece of performance. Many of the songs here obviously came to life on stage, with lengthy instrumental breaks and galvanized solos only possible in front of an eager audience. Nelson's long, luxurious guitar break during "Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape", bracketing an equally romantic turn by Andrew Clark on electric piano, is one of the album's highlights. Even more impressive (and longer) is the quicksilver guitar and keyboard jam over the funky accompaniment of the song "Shine".

There are plenty of similar moments when the music really gels. But the album itself would have to be considered a period piece now, produced and played in a style which locates it very precisely in the middle 1970s. Listeners of a certain age will no doubt recognize the attractive time-capsule aura surrounding it (the album was released the same year I graduated from high school). But to anyone who didn't come of age in the '70s it might be little more than a dusty, irrelevant fossil from another generation.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#303103)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Review Permalink

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