Album Reviews Be Bop Deluxe - Drastic Plastic

Published on 24th February 2021

Be Bop Deluxe – Drastic Plastic Deluxe Box Set


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A six-disc repackaging of the Drastic Plastic album from 1978, discs 1 to 4 available for review, so only the 5.1 mix and video content missing. Nostalgia aside, I have enjoyed my revisit to Bill Nelson’s Be Bop Deluxe beyond my expectations. There is something just…, well, just, it is hard to put one’s finger on it. Be Bop Deluxe are like the laboratory test tube baby formed from the DNA of Roxy Music, XTC, The Ramones, The Knack, and several others, all swirled up in a petri dish. Mixing rock with laid-back balladry and drum beats that I swear were nicked wholesale by The Knack and The Ramones. There is such energy, such that many current and rising bands could learn from it.

Each disc has been a great listen, but given the similarities of menu on each I would recommend a healthy gap between samplings. Of the downloads, my favourite is the 2020 mix, it’s just that little bit sharper with a better balance from an original that was not bad anyway.

If ever a recording has made the gulf between genres feel negligible, this could be it, but most of all I am revelling in an infectious sense of fun. It has a certain progressive cleverness but entertains raw riffs and rhythms from the punk era. Definitely ahead of its time and influential, possibly a template for many yet to come, guitars and bass delivering both warmth and depth.

This is a set to have and with the inclusion of the 5.1 mix it should really challenge your hi-fi set up. Each disc provides extras along with an excellent remix. For the core of the review, I listened to the 2020 remix/remaster. The sound is sharper, separation is hotter, and the general clarity stronger, however, had that not been available to me, there are no bad recordings in this set. The original, with its tweaks, holds up well. Timelessness is key, the material, barring a few obvious ’70s quirks, sounds fresh, and the influence on later acts is pretty clear. If ever there was a punk/prog crossover, this is it. Bizarre, but the pedigree of the musicians should – and did – leave a legacy that is memorable and entertaining for the right reasons.

Electrical Language (altered Images??) has that jangly feel that pop had as punk’s furore died away; electronica heavy but no loose notes, quality guitar when appropriate. New Precision? Just so, as Roxy Music seemingly gives birth to The Talking Heads. Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing, the positive nostalgia continues throughout Panic in the World (The Cars, Ramones, The Knack). Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything) has hints of Sheena is a Punk Rocker, the energy in each track is infectious, and probably seen at the time as subversive, yet there are moments when the dinosaurs of prog leave significant footprints (Visions of Endless Hopes), with twelve-string, mandolin and barking dog.
Tracks like the bonuses Autosexual and Love Is Mortal, on the third 2020 mix disc, just make me wish even more for that 5.1 disc. Musically, it is a wonder, despite having repetitions of tracks in their various reiterations, everything contributes. The bonus tracks would grace many albums, not just as footnotes or padding. So yes, all is well, the Drastic Plastic is elastic, stretching to please a variety of discerning listeners. It’s mellow, it rocks, it’s a fox with Sox, and something to be treasured, even though for some that will be with hindsight.

Fantastic Drastic Plastic!

Be Bop Deluxe - Drastic Plastic

TRACK LISTING
Disc One: Drastic Plastic, The Original Stereo Mix Remastered

01. Electrical Language
02. New Precision
03. New Mysteries
04. Surreal Estate
05. Love In Flames
06. Panic in the World
07. Dangerous Stranger
08. Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything)
09. Visions of Endless Hopes
10. Possession
11. Islands of the Dead Bonus Tracks
12. Japan
13. Futurist Manifesto
14. Panic in the World (Single Edit)
15. Blue As A Jewel
16. Electrical Language (Single Version)
17. Love in Flames (Single Version)
18. Face in the Rain (Previously Unreleased On CD)
19. Islands of the Dead (Take Four) (Previously Unreleased)
20. The Saxophonist (Juan Les Pins Version) (Previously Unreleased)

Disc Two: Additional Tracks & Sessions
– Recorded at the Manor Studio, August 1977 For An Intended EP:
01. Autosexual
02. Lovers Are Mortal
03. Blimps
04. Speed of the Wind
05. Quest of Harvest for the Stars
– BBC Radio One Sight & Sound In Concert, 19th January 1978:
06. New Precision
07. Superenigmatix
08. Possession
09. Dangerous Stranger
10. Islands of the Dead
11. Panic in the World
12. Lovers Are Mortal
13. Love In Flames
14. Blazing Apostles
– BBC Radio One John Peel Session, 30th January 1978:
15. Superenigmatix
16. Possession
17. Panic in the World
18. Love In Flames

Disc Three: The New Stereo Mixes
01. Electrical Language (New Stereo Mix)
02. New Precision (New Stereo Mix)
03. New Mysteries (New Stereo Mix)
04. Surreal Estate (New Stereo Mix)
05. Love In Flames (New Stereo Mix)
06. Panic in the World (New Stereo Mix)
07. Dangerous Stranger (New Stereo Mix)
08. Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything) (New Stereo Mix)
09. Visions of Endless Hopes (New Stereo Mix)
10. Possession (New Stereo Mix)
11. Islands of the Dead (New Stereo Mix)
– Singles and EP Tracks:
12. Japan (New Stereo Mix)
13. Futurist Manifesto (New Stereo Mix)
14. Blue As A Jewel (New Stereo Mix)
15. Autosexual (New Stereo Mix)
16. Face in the Rain (New Stereo Mix)
17. Lovers Are Mortal (New Stereo Mix)
18. Speed of the Wind (New Stereo Mix
19. Quest for the Harvest of the Stars (New Stereo Mix)

Disc Four: A Feeling Of Playing – Bill Nelson Demos 1977
01. Speed of the Wind
02. Surreal Estate (Previously Unreleased)
03. The Saxophonist
04. Electrical Language (Previously Unreleased on CD)
05. Visions of Endless Hopes
06. Possession (Previously Unreleased on CD)
07. Islands of the Dead (Previously Unreleased on CD)
08. New Mysteries (Previously Unreleased on CD)
09. Japan (Previously Unreleased on CD)
10. Dangerous Stranger (Previously Unreleased on CD)
11. Blue As A Jewel
12. Autosexual (Previously Unreleased on CD)
13. Quest for the Harvest of the Stars (Previously Unreleased on CD)
14. New Precision (Previously Unreleased on CD)
15. Love In Flames (Previously Unreleased On CD)

Disc Five: High Resolution 96 Khz/24-Bit 5.1 Surround Sound, New Stereo & Original Stereo Mixes
01. Electrical Language (5.1 Surround Mix)
02. New Precision (5.1 Surround Mix)
03. New Mysteries (5.1 Surround Mix)
04. Surreal Estate (5.1 Surround Mix)
05. Love In Flames (5.1 Surround Mix)
06. Panic in the World (5.1 Surround Mix)
07. Dangerous Stranger (5.1 Surround Mix)
08. Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything) (5.1 Surround Mix)
09. Visions of Endless Hopes (5.1 Surround Mix)
10. Possession (5.1 Surround Mix)
11. Islands of the Dead (5.1 Surround Mix)
– Singles & EP Tracks:
12. Japan (5.1 Surround Mix)
13. Futurist Manifesto (5.1 Surround Mix)
14. Blue As A Jewel (5.1 Surround Mix)
15. Autosexual (5.1 Surround Mix)
16. Face in the Rain (5.1 Surround Mix)
17. Lovers Are Mortal (5.1 Surround Mix)
18. Speed of the Wind (5.1 Surround Mix)
19. Quest for the Harvest of the Stars (5.1 Surround Mix)

Disc Six: Video Content
Be Bop Deluxe in the South of France
Bill Nelson’s Home Movies Filmed Whilst Recording Drastic Plastic
BBC TV Sight & Sound In Concert, 19th January 1978:
– 01. New Precision
– 02. Superenigmatix
– 03. Possession
– 04. Dangerous Stranger
– 05. Islands of the Dead
– 06. Lovers Are Mortal
– 07. Panic in the World

MUSICIANS
Bill Nelson – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Charles Tumahai – Bass, Vocals
Andy Clark – Keyboards
Simon Fox – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Esoteric Recordings
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 26th February 2021 (originally 1978)

LINKS
Be Bop Deluxe – Facebook | Cherry Red Product Page

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