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Be-Bop Deluxe: Sunburst Finish

Glenn Astarita By

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This is 1976 issued gem by the British band led by guitar virtuoso Bill Nelson, projects artsy, erotic and radiant cover art that was ahead of its time, but then again, this ensemble seamlessly merged progressive rock, straight-ahead rock, blues, reggae and fabricated pop music with a college education. This newly re-mastered and expanded 2-CD edition includes the customary bonus tracks on (CD2) and a radio version of the band's memorable, buoyant and intricately designed hit single "Ships in the Night" on CD1.

The album opens with the shrewdly arranged "Fair Exchange," which is a piece that glowingly conveys Nelson's diverse compositions, where prog rock, Ravel and a touch of Chuck Berry style rock and roll attain a happy medium, stirred up by a catchy hook and Andy Clark's burly synth lines. Indeed, the band bridged the gap between prog and other less complicated rock-fueled genres during its existence in the 1970s, although Nelson's post Be-Bop Deluxe heterogeneous solo discography has generated hordes of interest resulting in a devoted following for several decades.

On "Crying to the Sky," the musicians execute a dream-laden ballad erected on layers and medium- tempo agility contrasted by the guitarist's distortion-induced soloing that alternates with his heartwarming vocals. Yet the ensemble's signature approach shines on "Sleep that Burns," driven by a galloping cadence, Nelson's howling lead lines, and a smidgeon of cabaret music during the bridge, framed on a prolific theme and thorny motifs.

Be-Bop Deluxe was an anomaly of sorts, where everything but the proverbial kitchen sink often coalesced into cohesive musical statements, augmented by multifarious rhythmic involvement and a party time atmosphere. Critically acclaimed at the time, they also achieved varying degrees of commercial success. It was a band that went far beyond the call of duty as advanced musical concepts, innocent pop renderings, torrid solo spots, and concise genre-hopping movements made perfect sense amid the artists' jubilant underpinnings.

A timeless and highly recommended outing.

Track Listing: CD1 – The Original Stereo Mix Re-mastered: Fair Exchange; Heavenly Homes; Ships In The Night; Crying To The Sky; Sleep That Burns; Beauty Secrets; Life In The Air Age; Like An Old Blues; Crystal Gazing; Blazing Apostles. Ships In The Night; (Single Version). CD2 – The 2018 Stereo Mix: Fair Exchange; Heavenly Homes; Ships In The Night; Crying To The Sky; Sleep That Burns; Beauty Secrets; Life In The Air Age; Like An Old Blues; Crystal Gazing; Blazing Apostles. Ships In The Night; (First Version); Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks – Ships In the Night (First Version); Beauty Secrets (First Version); The Mystery (Demo); Crystal Gazing (Alternate Vocal Version); Crying To The Sky (First Version); Ships In The Night (Alternate Vocal Version).

Personnel: Bill Nelson: vocals, guitars, keyboards; Charlie Tumahai: bass, vocals; Andy Clark: keyboards; Simon Fox: drums.

Title: Sunburst Finish | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Cherry Red Records

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