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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Be-Bop Deluxe

Sunburnt Finish

Review by Gary Hill

This is a brand new two-CD edition of Be-Bop Deluxe's Sunburnt Finish album. The first CD is a new master of the original album. It has one bonus track, the single version of "Ships in the Night." The second disc is a 2018 remix of the album. That second set includes a number of alternate versions of various songs and one "Mystery Demo." This set is just so cool and comes with a great booklet. This is well worth having. Please note that the songs on the album proper are the same from one disc to the next, so I've just used the same track reviews for those for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One

                          

Sunburst Finish
 
The original stereo mix re-mastered.
             
Fair Exchange

Proggy noisy guitar rises up gradually. They burst into some fast paced prog jamming from there. The cut works through a couple changes during this instrumental introduction. It works out to a jam that's part David Bowie, part boogie rock and part prog for the vocals. The cut continues to evolve as it drives forward. I can make out hints of things from Mott the Hoople to punk rock at various points along this road.

Heavenly Homes
There is more of that Bowie and Mott the Hoople texture built into this cut. The track drives forward with style through the introduction, and then drops way down to continue. A piano dominated arrangement drives the first vocal section. There are hints of The Beatles and more built into it.
Ships in the Night
This rocker is a full on progressive rock extravaganza. It shifts this way and that and has some killer changes. There are still hints of some of things from the previous cuts here, but overall this is much more pure prog than those were. That said, there is a definite reggae-edge to some of this.
Crying to the Sky
There are some killer dreamy textures to this number. I can make out a lot of Beatles and some definite psychedelia. Yet it gets noisy, too, with an almost Hendrix goes prog kind of element.
Sleep That Burns
An alarm clock starts this, and a guy sleepily awakens. The track fires out into fast-paced prog jamming from there. It is a killer number that shifts and turns with a lot of style. There are some punky edges to the piece. They turn things to some odd sort of cafe music mid-track. It's strange, but cool. I love the killer soaring guitar work further down the road when this has transitioned back to more pure rocking stuff.
Beauty Secrets
This number has some of that Bowie element at times. It's a dynamic number that has faster and slower stuff, more rocking and mellower. It's another powerful cut that really drives with a lot of style.
Life in the Air Age
Percussion brings this into being. A cool 70s sort of texture rises up from there as this carries forward. There are some intriguing shifts and turns as this thing works onward. There is some smoking hot guitar work at times, and the ending section is an odd little fun bit.
Like An Old Blues
As you would expect from the title, there is a lot of blues built into this killer number. it has some jazz in the mix, too. While this isn't the most decidedly progressive rock based thing here, it has some intriguing changes and enough left-of-center stuff to keep it landed in that genre. This has some hints of Frank Zappa at points. Full blues takes over at other times, too, particularly during the harmonica-led bit.
Crystal Gazing
Coming in dramatic and powerful, this drops back to mellower, dreamy kinds of spacey rock. The track has hints of things like The Beatles and Klaatu. It gets more rocking before it's over and done.
Blazing Apostles
This is packed full of shifts and changes. I can make out some Zappa hints, but there are a lot of other things here. There is a soaring kind of lush element to this in a lot of ways. Some guitar rocking hard edged stuff later takes it into some 70s rock territory. That doesn't hold it for too long, though.
Bonus Track
        
Ships in the Night (Single Version)

As the parenthetical and title suggests, this is an alternate take of the earlier cut. This works quite well in this format, too. I really dig the horns on this.

Disc Two
              
Sunburst Finish

        

The 2018 Stereo Mix
               
Fair Exchange

Proggy noisy guitar rises up gradually. They burst into some fast paced prog jamming from there. The cut works through a couple changes during this instrumental introduction. It works out to a jam that's part David Bowie, part boogie rock and part prog for the vocals. The cut continues to evolve as it drives forward. I can make out hints of things from Mott the Hoople to punk rock at various points along this road.

Heavenly Homes
There is more of that Bowie and Mott the Hoople texture built into this cut. The track drives forward with style through the introduction, and then drops way down to continue. A piano dominated arrangement drives the first vocal section. There are hints of The Beatles and more built into it.
Ships in the Night
This rocker is a full on progressive rock extravaganza. It shifts this way and that and has some killer changes. There are still hints of some of things from the previous cuts here, but overall this is much more pure prog than those were. That said, there is a definite reggae-edge to some of this.
Crying to the Sky
There are some killer dreamy textures to this number. I can make out a lot of Beatles and some definite psychedelia. Yet it gets noisy, too, with an almost Hendrix goes prog kind of element.
Sleep That Burns
An alarm clock starts this, and a guy sleepily awakens. The track fires out into fast-paced prog jamming from there. It is a killer number that shifts and turns with a lot of style. There are some punky edges to the piece. They turn things to some odd sort of cafe music mid-track. It's strange, but cool. I love the killer soaring guitar work further down the road when this has transitioned back to more pure rocking stuff.
Beauty Secrets
This number has some of that Bowie element at times. It's a dynamic number that has faster and slower stuff, more rocking and mellower. It's another powerful cut that really drives with a lot of style.
Life in the Air Age
Percussion brings this into being. A cool 70s sort of texture rises up from there as this carries forward. There are some intriguing shifts and turns as this thing works onward. There is some smoking hot guitar work at times, and the ending section is an odd little fun bit.
Like An Old Blues

As you would expect from the title, there is a lot of blues built into this killer number. it has some jazz in the mix, too. While this isn't the most decidedly progressive rock based thing here, it has some intriguing changes and enough left-of-center stuff to keep it landed in that genre. This has some hints of Frank Zappa at points. Full blues takes over at other times, too, particularly during the harmonica-led bit.

Crystal Gazing
Coming in dramatic and powerful, this drops back to mellower, dreamy kinds of spacey rock. The track has hints of things like The Beatles and Klaatu. It gets more rocking before it's over and done.
Blazing Apostles
This is packed full of shifts and changes. I can make out some Zappa hints, but there are a lot of other things here. There is a soaring kind of lush element to this in a lot of ways. Some guitar rocking hard edged stuff later takes it into some 70s rock territory. That doesn't hold it for too long, though.
Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks
            
Ships in the Night (First Version)

This alternate take on the tune has a bit more of a stripped back immediacy to it. It's a solid version that holds up well next to the other ones on this set.

Beauty Secrets (First Version)

There is a bit of a false start on this. The under-produced edge really adds something to it. Mind you the final product is great, too. I just really like the way this thing feels here quite a bit.

The Mystery Demo

With an acoustic guitar and vocal based arrangement, there is a real jazz kind of feeling to this. I like the track a lot.

Crystal Gazing (Alternate Vocal Version)
This is a powerful rendition of the previous cut. I think I might like this better than the rendition that showed up on the album proper.
Crying to the Sky (First Version)
Somehow this rendition of the song makes me think of Robin Trower just a bit. It really has a great angle on the dreamy kind of vibe.
Ships in the Night (Alternate Vocal Version)
As you might imagine, this is a different version of the earlier tune. I like this one quite a bit. In fact, I might prefer this take to the other ones we've heard.
 
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