Futurist Manifesto - Harvest Years 1974-1978 - EMI 2011
The group released during 1974-1978 five studio albums, of which at least one without hesitation, should be called a masterpiece.
All five albums are contained on this fine CD release which also contains single-tracks, outtakes and other rarities.
First album "Axe Victim" is pretty much dominated by Nelson's desire to demonstrate his skills on the guitar. Of course the album also contains also fine compositions with "Night Creatures", "Third Floor Heaven," "Jets at Dawn" and "Darkness" as some of the most memorable.
On the sequel "Futurama" from 1975, Nelson exchanged his crew and the group was now a trio consisting of Nelson himself, bassist Charles Tumahai and drummer Simon Fox. Nelson was with this group is clearly beginning find his sound and expression, yet the album lacks to a certain degree really good songs. Only "Maid in Heaven" and a few others stand out from the rest.
On the "Sunburst Finish" from 1976, the band is expanded with keyboard player Andrew Clark. The songwriting here is top notch, and the album can only be described as a classic containing several of their best songs. Not least the hit single "Ships in the Night" and other strong compositions like "Fair Exchange," "Heavenly Homes", "Sleep That Burns", "Beauty Secrets", "Life in the Air Age" and "Crystal gazing".
Same year came as the group's absolute masterpiece, "Modern Music". This album is definitely the most melodic, with more songs tied together in shorter suites. The album contains no less than fifteen songs which are generally of shorter length than usual. Most of the music is of such high quality that the tracks can easily stand alone outside the context of the album. A lot of songs could be brought forward here. Tracks like "Orphans of Babylon," "Kiss of Light", "Gold at the End of the Rainbow," "Modern Music", "Make the Music Magic," "Forbidden Lovers" and "Down to Terminal Street" are all titles that stand out in the Be Bop Deluxe song catalogue.
The final album "Drastic Plastic" was released in 1978 after the punk wave had broken through. The music on this album is not unaffected by current trends, and the approach is generally simpler than on the previous albums. "Drastic Plastic" does not reach the level og "Sunburts Finish" of "Modern Music", but it does contain such classics as the single "Panic in the World" and other fine songs like "Electric Language", "Surreal Estate" and "Islands of the Dead".
After "Drastic Plastic" group split up and Bill Nelson formed the short lived "Red Noise".
In 1979 appeared "The Best of the Rest" which contained several outtakes, all of which, except the quiet ballad "Face in the Rain", are included on this box. Too bad this fine number is omitted. However, these outtakes and singles for the most part welcome additions to the group's other material. "Lovers er Mortal," "Quest for the Harvest of the Stars," "Speed of the Wind," "Lights" and especially "Blue as a Jewel" stand out.