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Be-Bop Deluxe

Futurama

Review by Gary Hill

This is an expanded and classy reissue of Be-Bop Deluxe's 1975 album Futurama. The disc was aptly titled as the sound was really futuristic in a lot of ways. There is a prog sense to it all, and although it touches on older musical concepts, it really takes them in new directions. There is something about this that is wholly unique, even today. At the time it was worlds beyond what had come before. This set includes the original album with two bonus tracks on the first disc. The second disc have a new stereo mix of all the music from that first CD along with two more bonus tracks. There is also a fold-out poster and informative booklet. This is a classy edition for certain. It should be noted that since the music is the same for the bulk of the tracks from one disc to the other, I've used the same track reviews for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One
          
Stage Whispers

A fast paced arrangement built around swirling, driving guitars begins this. The cut works out with a psychedelic meets prog and glam arrangement. Comparisons to David Bowie are warranted to some degrees, but this is proggier. It's packed full of shifts and changes, too. It even gets a bit funky at times. There are some unique sections built into this thing, really.

Love with the Madman
While this is less frantic, it still has some variants along the road. It's more of a melodic prog rock tune. I can definitely make out Beatles leanings on this thing. There are still some of those Bowie things at play, too.
Maid in Heaven
More glam rock based at the opening, there are definitely Bowie and Mott the Hoople references to be made here. This has more of an arena rock vibe to it than the openers did.. Still, there are proggy breaks here and there. The guitar fills on this are great.
Sister Seagull
The opening bit on this has an almost metal feeling to it. The cut drops back to a dramatic slower movement for the vocals.
Sound Track
This is a full on progressive rock tour-de-force. Parts of this make me think of the band Flash a bit. It's a dynamic piece that covers a lot of territory. There is some particularly potent guitar work build into this beast. The guitar soloing movement later in the track is purely on fire.  That part works it toward its ending. This song is a highlight of the set as far as I'm concerned.
Music in Dreamland
After a powerhouse opening movement, the cut drops to a piano and voice arrangement to continue. It powers back out further down the road. There are powered up segments laced with horns that call to mind The Beatles. Some of the harder rocking sections bring a bit of a glam rock vibe. It's all pure progressive rock, though. A mellow, bouncy, melodic prog section is a nice touch, too. This is another standout cut.
Jean Cocteau
Coming in mellower and jazzy, this has a great melodic groove to it, with a lot of jazz in the mix.  There is definitely some jazz guitar built into the guitar soloing on this. I'm also reminded of Flash to some large degree.
Between the Worlds
A harder rocking, vaguely psychedelic tune, this is another that calls to mind Flash a bit. It's a powerhouse tune. It's also packed full of shifts and changes. Some backwards tracked stuff gives way to a gong that ends moves the piece into the next number.
Swan Song
Coming out of a crescendo from the last tune, a percussive arrangement begins this. It works out toward more arena rock based textures as it grows. In some ways this is more of a mainstream tune. It still has plenty of twists and turns in the mix, though. There are definitely psychedelic edges to this piece, too. I love the driving kind of melodic prog jam that takes over later in the tune.  There are Beatles-like elements at play at different points here. The closing section is particularly powerful. Then again, considering that was the final passage of the album proper, it really needed to be.
Bonus Tracks:
           
Between the Worlds (Single Version)

Oddly enough, this is actually a second longer than the album version. The arrangement on this does seem a bit more straightforward and mainstream somehow.

Lights
This is less proggy than a lot of the stuff here. It has a real 1970s mainstream rock vibe to it. There are hints of psychedelia in the mix, too. All in all, this is a strong number, but pales compared to the stuff on the album proper.
CD Two
               
Stage Whispers

A fast paced arrangement built around swirling, driving guitars begins this. The cut works out with a psychedelic meets prog and glam arrangement. Comparisons to David Bowie are warranted to some degrees, but this is proggier. It's packed full of shifts and changes, too. It even gets a bit funky at times. There are some unique sections built into this thing, really.

Love with the Madman
While this is less frantic, it still has some variants along the road. It's more of a melodic prog rock tune. I can definitely make out Beatles leanings on this thing. There are still some of those Bowie things at play, too.
Maid in Heaven
More glam rock based at the opening, there are definitely Bowie and Mott the Hoople references to be made here. This has more of an arena rock vibe to it than the openers did.. Still, there are proggy breaks here and there. The guitar fills on this are great.
Sister Seagull
The opening bit on this has an almost metal feeling to it. The cut drops back to a dramatic slower movement for the vocals.
Sound Track
This is a full on progressive rock tour-de-force. Parts of this make me think of the band Flash a bit. It's a dynamic piece that covers a lot of territory. There is some particularly potent guitar work build into this beast. The guitar soloing movement later in the track is purely on fire.  That part works it toward its ending. This song is a highlight of the set as far as I'm concerned.
Music in Dreamland
After a powerhouse opening movement, the cut drops to a piano and voice arrangement to continue. It powers back out further down the road. There are powered up segments laced with horns that call to mind The Beatles. Some of the harder rocking sections bring a bit of a glam rock vibe. It's all pure progressive rock, though. A mellow, bouncy, melodic prog section is a nice touch, too. This is another standout cut.
Jean Cocteau
Coming in mellower and jazzy, this has a great melodic groove to it, with a lot of jazz in the mix.  There is definitely some jazz guitar built into the guitar soloing on this. I'm also reminded of Flash to some large degree.
Between the Worlds
A harder rocking, vaguely psychedelic tune, this is another that calls to mind Flash a bit. It's a powerhouse tune. It's also packed full of shifts and changes. Some backwards tracked stuff gives way to a gong that ends moves the piece into the next number.
Swan Song
Coming out of a crescendo from the last tune, a percussive arrangement begins this. It works out toward more arena rock based textures as it grows. In some ways this is more of a mainstream tune. It still has plenty of twists and turns in the mix, though. There are definitely psychedelic edges to this piece, too. I love the driving kind of melodic prog jam that takes over later in the tune.  There are Beatles-like elements at play at different points here. The closing section is particularly powerful. Then again, considering that was the final passage of the album proper, it really needed to be.
Bonus Tracks:

       

Between the Worlds (Single Version)
Oddly enough, this is actually a second longer than the album version. The arrangement on this does seem a bit more straightforward and mainstream somehow.
Lights
This is less proggy than a lot of the stuff here. It has a real 1970s mainstream rock vibe to it. There are hints of psychedelia in the mix, too. All in all, this is a strong number, but pales compared to the stuff on the album proper.
Music in Dreamland (Phonogram Studios Version)
There is some studio banter at the start of this. They work out from there to a cool rocking groove on this version of the piece. This is a purely instrumental rendition, and it works well. The piano really shines on this.
Between the Worlds (Alternate Single Version)
Truth in advertising, this is another single version of the earlier track. This is the longest of the three. There is a cool rocking guitar edge to this. I think I might like this version the best of the three really.

 

 
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