Exposé Online banner

Be Bop Deluxe — Sunburst Finish
(Esoteric Recordings PECLEC22643, 1976/2018, 2CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2019-03-03

Sunburst Finish Cover art

To my mind, Be Bop Deluxe has always occupied a unique position in the ranks of 70s progressive rock bands. Unlike most of their contemporaries, they didn’t arrive at their progressive sound by adding elements of Classical music, jazz, or anything else. They were pure rock and roll done in a sophisticated and intelligent manner. Listen to “Fair Exchange,” the opening track from 1976’s Sunburst Finish, and you’ll hear the tune’s unmistakable roots in Chuck Berry. That’s something you’d never get in Yes or Genesis, and it also positioned the band to avoid the collapse of progressive rock as a commercial force at the end of the 70s. Given that they lacked what became perceived as “pretense,” they could move on to Drastic Plastic, which stylistically resembles New Wave, with relatively little change to what they were doing — compare “Blazing Apostles” here. Several of the songs on Sunburst Finish have an aggressive punkish attitude, and while Bill Nelson is obviously a talented guitarist, his solos are kept to unindulgent lengths. In fact, no track on the album tops six minutes. The arrangements throughout are sparkling and clear, with beautiful harmony vocals and tasty keyboards featuring all the classic sounds: piano, mono-synth, electric piano, string synth (but no Mellotron).

In addition to the original album mix, this new release features a new stereo mix and a handful of bonus tracks. The deluxe edition features a CD of various BBC sessions and a DVD with surround-sound mixes and a few video items. The new stereo mix sounds great, bringing out all the subtlety without sacrificing power. The bonus tracks are a mixed bag, including single versions, demos, and alternate vocal takes. None of them is essential or adds much to the album’s legacy, but might be of interest to completists. It’s great to see Be Bop Deluxe getting this kind of lavish treatment — their place in the history of 70s rock deserves greater recognition. The BBC Sessions disc presents a real problem, however. The performance is energetic and spirited, but there are some technical issues that make it near unlistenable for me. Andy Clark’s synthesizer leads are hopelessly out of tune. The songs that don’t feature that keyboard are great, like “Sister Seagull” and “Third Floor Heaven,” but “Life in the Air Age” and “Ships in the Night” are seriously marred. The three tracks from sessions for John Peel do not suffer from this problem, and are really solid, with a nice extended version of “Blazing Apostles.”


Filed under: Archives, 2018 releases, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Bill Nelson, Be Bop Deluxe

More info
http://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/be-bop-deluxe-sunburst-finish-2cd-expanded-remastere

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Spirit - 1984 – Be warned, this is not an authorized release — not even close. What we have here is (a) one track ("1984") recorded live in Bremen in 1969 (no further details...), (b) the entire...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues