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Be Bop Deluxe - Axe Victim CD (album) cover


Be Bop Deluxe


Crossover Prog

3.01 | 72 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "We hoped you'd lend an ear, you hoped we'd dress like tarts"

"Axe victim" was the first album recorded in the name of Be Bop Deluxe, who were in reality a band in name only. The story of Be Bop Deluxe is actually the story of vocalist and guitarist Bill Nelson. This would be proved to be the case immediately after this 1974 release, the line up which made it being completely disbanded.

The first challenge here is to decipher the conflicting messages of the sleeve. On the front we have a rather gruesome skull bodied guitar image, on the back and inside we have a make up covered quartet of glam rockers. It appears Nelson and the boys wanted to make quality music while appealing to followers of the current pop trends, hence the lyric quoted above, taken from the opening title track. That song has a Mott the Hoople like feel from around the time of their interaction with David Bowie. Nelson takes little time to display his guitar prowess, but stays short of indulging in any long virtuoso solos.

"Love is swift arrows" is heavily pop based in a Talking Heads or Cockney Rebel sort of way, the slightly distorted and heavily accented vocals being backed by a predominantly acoustic arrangement. Nelson adds a fine lead guitar solo which Wishbone Ash would have been proud of though. The song segues into "Jet silver and the dolls of Venus", a Bowie-esque flight of space fantasy. There is a distinctly retro-pop feel here which is pleasant but far from demanding.

"Third floor heaven" is another Bowie like androgynous tale of perversion which moves closer to punk territories. Side one closes with "Night creatures" where Nelson's apparent fascination with glam cross dressing is now bordering on obsession. Here he tries even harder to sound like Bowie, the song sounding like an out-take from "Ziggy Stardust".

"Rocket cathedrals" is the only song on the album not written by Bill Nelson, bassist Rob Bryan stepping forward to sing lead vocal on his own song. The most upbeat song on the album, this straightforward rock number is actually the best pointer towards future BBD albums such as "Sunburst finish". Nelson slows things down for "Adventures in a Yorkshire landscape", a nicely descriptive picture of a rural setting.

At over 7 minutes, "Jets at dawn" is the longest track on the album. It is essentially a melodic pop ballad with pleasant harmonies and a fine vocal performance by Nelson. The centre point though is one of Nelson's superb guitar solos. It really is a pity that on this album his guitar talents are not exploited further as his playing is superb both technically and tonally.

Another reasonably long track, "No trains to heaven" follows. The song is somewhat less impressive than its predecessor though, being a rather disjointed Wishbone Ash like workout. The album closes with "Darkness (L'immoraliste)" an unusually dark song with angelic choir voices and an orchestral arrangement.

In all, a decent first album which features a good diversity of songs. The Bowie similarities can be distracting, but there is no doubting Bill Nelson's excellence on guitar.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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