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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Be-Bop Deluxe

Drastic Plastic - Deluxe Edition

Review by Gary Hill

Drastic Plastic was the final album from Be-Bop Deluxe. It was released in 1978. This new edition includes the original mix and a number of bonus tracks on the first disc, with a new mix on the second disc and different bonus tracks. You also get a great booklet all in the digipack.

Bill Nelson's vision was the driving factor behind the band, and he's still an innovative and unique artist that creates progressive music that's largely like the prog that no one else creates. As good as the original mix is, this thing really comes alive with the new mix. A lot of times remixes aren't as good as the original. This one really surpasses it.

The album is strong, too, reflecting a lot of different sounds and modes within its length. Many of the bonus tracks are previously unreleased, bringing an added allure to the set. All in all, this is well worth having. I should mention, since the songs are the same from the main album, I've used the same track reviews for them on both CDs for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
CD One
                       
Drastic Plastic
            
The Original Stereo Mix
                     
Electrical Language

This cut is electronic as it starts, feeling very much like 80s music. The guitar breaks are elegant and melodic. They are both tasteful and tasty. The same can be said of the keyboard breaks. This is a cool tune that is a great opener.

New Precision
A bit more rocking, this is a killer track that has quite a helping of New Wave built into it. I am particularly fond of the guitar work on this. For some reason I'm reminded of Devo just a little on this.
New Mysteries
This tune has a little bit of a funky edge. Roxy Music seems a valid comparisons in some ways.
Surreal Estate
Another classy cut, this has a new wave meets prog approach. It gets into more symphonic prog zones as it moves forward. There is some whistling at the end of this.
Love in Flames
Here I'm again reminded of Devo, this time even more so. This is up-tempo, to the point of being crazed. It's also very classy and dramatic.
Panic in the World
Now, this makes me think of something David Bowie might have done in the 80s or 90s. It has more of a proggy edge, though. It also gets decidedly New Wave.
Dangerous Stranger
A cool rock and roll element is on the menu here. This is a playful tune, but far from the proggiest number on show here.
Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything)
There is a playful, theatrical edge to this cut. It's bouncy, New Wave based and a lot of fun.
Visions of Endless Hopes
This is mellower, proggy and intricate. It's also quite beautiful, making me think of Genesis just a little.
Possession
Punky, this is a New Wave based tune that is artsy and fun.
Islands of the Dead
I dig the island vibe to this cut. The number is classy with a bit of a dreamy edge. The guitar work is so tasty.
Bonus Tracks
A & B sides of single
Released as Harvest HAR 5135 Sept. 1977
                    
Japan

With an Asian vibe to it, the lyrics here are dated, but the cool prog meets new wave groove is fresh.

Futurist Manifesto
I really dig the trippy kind of groove on this. The vocals are largely spoken, and there are some intriguing musical textures at play along with the echoey vocals. This is so artsy and so effective.
B side of single
             
Released as Harvest HAR 5147 January. 1978
                             
Blue As a Jewel

This is another effective piece with both New Wave and prog elements at play.

Autosexual
There is some funk in the mix on this cool tune. It has a great groove to it. Yet they bring some serious New Wave into it, too. It turns hard rocking later and the guitar seriously soars. I think I like this track as much as anything on the album proper.
Face in the Rain
This is a short tune made up of an acoustic guitar and vocal arrangement.
Lovers are Mortal
The lush keyboards that produce layers of symphonic styled atmosphere over the top are classy. This has a real old school prog vibe in a lot of ways, feeling like something that Procol Harum or The Strawbs might have done.
Blimps
Backwards tracked stuff and other weirdness are heard on this strange piece.
Speed of the Wind
A high energy prog rocker, this is so strong. I like this as much as anything on the album proper.
Quest of Harvest for the Stars
I can make out hints of David Bowie on this track along with more pure progressive rock elements. There are folkier moments, too.
CD Two
                              
Drastic Plastic
                            
The New Stereo Mix
                          
Electrical Language

This cut is electronic as it starts, feeling very much like 80s music. The guitar breaks are elegant and melodic. They are both tasteful and tasty. The same can be said of the keyboard breaks. This is a cool tune that is a great opener.

New Precision

A bit more rocking, this is a killer track that has quite a helping of New Wave built into it. I am particularly fond of the guitar work on this. For some reason I'm reminded of Devo just a little on this.

New Mysteries
This tune has a little bit of a funky edge. Roxy Music seems a valid comparisons in some ways.
Surreal Estate
Another classy cut, this has a new wave meets prog approach. It gets into more symphonic prog zones as it moves forward. There is some whistling at the end of this.
Love in Flames
Here I'm again reminded of Devo, this time even more so. This is up-tempo, to the point of being crazed. It's also very classy and dramatic.
Panic in the World
Now, this makes me think of something David Bowie might have done in the 80s or 90s. It has more of a proggy edge, though. It also gets decidedly New Wave.
Dangerous Stranger
A cool rock and roll element is on the menu here. This is a playful tune, but far from the proggiest number on show here.
Superenigmatix (Lethal Appliances for the Home with Everything)
There is a playful, theatrical edge to this cut. It's bouncy, New Wave based and a lot of fun.
Visions of Endless Hopes
This is mellower, proggy and intricate. It's also quite beautiful, making me think of Genesis just a little.
Possession
Punky, this is a New Wave based tune that is artsy and fun.
Islands of the Dead
I dig the island vibe to this cut. The number is classy with a bit of a dreamy edge. The guitar work is so tasty.
Bonus Tracks
               
B side of single
              
Released as Harvest HAR 5147 January. 1978
                  
Panic in the World (single edit)

A single version of the previous tune, this is works well in this format.

A & B sides of single
                   
Released as Harvest HAR 5158 May. 1978
                
Electric Language (single version)

Here we get another single take, but you probably figured that out. I like this a lot.

Love in Flames (single version)
A screaming hot single version, this is great.
Recorded at Villa St. Georges, Juan-Les-Pins
             
May and June 1977
             
Islands of the Dead (Take four)

I like this version of the cut. It has a bit less of that island sound, feeling a bit more like something Al Stewart might have done.

The Saxophonist (Juan-Les-Pins version)

The guitar soloing on this tune is so jazzy. In fact, I'd consider this piece to be a fusion number.

 
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