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Be-Bop Deluxe

Axe Victim (Deluxe Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

Be-Bop Deluxe is one of those bands that should have been much bigger than they were. From a point of view of being influential, these guys are huge, but to the general public, they are largely unknown. This 1974 album is perhaps not their most prog oriented, leaning more toward David Bowie-like sounds and glam rock, but there are definitely prog tendencies at play. We get two CDs with this. One has a re-master of the original stereo mix, while the other has a new mix of the whole album. Since both have the same songs, I've included the same track reviews on both for the sake of consistency. Both discs include different bonus tracks. The set includes a nice booklet and a mini-poster. It's all packaged into a digi-pack. 

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
CD One
                 
The original stereo mix re-mastered
                       
Axe Victim

This comes in feeling almost like we landed in a song that's already underway. There is a real glam rock vibe to the piece. It has a definite David Bowie sort of edge. This has some intriguing changes as it continues. This seems like it must have been a huge influence on Queen. I hear so much of this sound in theirs.

Love Is Swift Arrows
A fast-paced cut, I love the guitar fills on this thing. Those Bowie sounds are still here, but perhaps not as prominent. This is another classy piece of music. 
Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus
Although it features some mellower, more melodic stuff at times, this has harder rocking sounds, as well. This feels even more like Bowie to me. The chorus hooks are great, and the tune has some prog rock flair to it. The instrumental section near the end channels a bit of the Beatles along with the prog and Bowie sounds.
Third Floor Heaven
While the same glam rock elements are in full force here, this does show a bit more progressive rock than some of the other music here does. It also has a positively inspired guitar solo.
Night Creatures
Coming in with a mellower texture, this is a great melodic piece. It seems to combine those Bowie concepts with a healthy helping of prog rock.
Rocket Cathedrals
There is an echoey, processed kind of vocal that serves as the intro here. It's a bit creepy and feels a little like some kind of incantation. From there, though, the tune shifts to a fast paced jam that has plenty of old school rock and roll welded to its glam rock chassis. This has some killer guitar work and an intriguing song structure.
Adventures In a Yorkshire Landscape
One of the most dynamic pieces here, this starts with a mellow, balladic approach. The first vocals come in over the top of that musical concept. An electric guitar riff brings a more proggy and rocking movement after the first vocal section.
Jets at Dawn
The sounds of nature start this. Then jets stream overhead. As the nature sounds reclaim control, the balladic melody brings a combination of David Bowie and folk prog to the fore. The number continues to grow and evolve, getting into some great rocking zones before it's over and done.
No Trains to Heaven
I dig the guitar fills on this a lot. This is a driving, rocking number that really stands tall. It's not the proggiest or glammiest thing here, but there is evidence of both here. This has some of the most powerful guitar soloing of the whole set further down the musical road.
Darkness (L'Immoraliste)
The most purely proggy thing on the album proper, this has symphonic elements and piano driving the early modes. It drops to a string enhanced balladic approach for the vocals to enter. This gets powerful and really soars as it continues.
Bonus Tracks:
                  
Teenage Archangel

This comes in a bit like a cross between David Bowie and T-Rex. It's a smoking hot hard rocker. This is the A-side of a single.

Jets At Dawn
This was the B-side of the "Teenage Archangel" single. It's a little shorter than the album version, but still about six-and-a-half minutes long.
No Trains to Heaven (First Mix)
This mix has a real rock and roll vibe to it. The guitar soloing feels, if anything, more incendiary than that on the final version. I get a bit of an Allman Brothers feeling from the tune. This is classy stuff. I almost think I prefer this to the version that wound up on the album.
Axe Victim (First Album Version Mix)
I don't hear a big different between this mix and the actual album one, really. It's a good tune, either way. Perhaps this is a bit more direct.
CD Two
                
The new stereo mix
                        
Axe Victim

This comes in feeling almost like we landed in a song that's already underway. There is a real glam rock vibe to the piece. It has a definite David Bowie sort of edge. This has some intriguing changes as it continues. This seems like it must have been a huge influence on Queen. I hear so much of this sound in theirs.

Love Is Swift Arrows
A fast-paced cut, I love the guitar fills on this thing. Those Bowie sounds are still here, but perhaps not as prominent. This is another classy piece of music. 
Jet Silver and the Dolls of Venus
Although it features some mellower, more melodic stuff at times, this has harder rocking sounds, as well. This feels even more like Bowie to me. The chorus hooks are great, and the tune has some prog rock flair to it. The instrumental section near the end channels a bit of the Beatles along with the prog and Bowie sounds.
Third Floor Heaven
While the same glam rock elements are in full force here, this does show a bit more progressive rock than some of the other music here does. It also has a positively inspired guitar solo.
Night Creatures
Coming in with a mellower texture, this is a great melodic piece. It seems to combine those Bowie concepts with a healthy helping of prog rock.
Rocket Cathedrals
There is an echoey, processed kind of vocal that serves as the intro here. It's a bit creepy and feels a little like some kind of incantation. From there, though, the tune shifts to a fast paced jam that has plenty of old school rock and roll welded to its glam rock chassis. This has some killer guitar work and an intriguing song structure.
Adventures In a Yorkshire Landscape
One of the most dynamic pieces here, this starts with a mellow, balladic approach. The first vocals come in over the top of that musical concept. An electric guitar riff brings a more proggy and rocking movement after the first vocal section.
Jets at Dawn
The sounds of nature start this. Then jets stream overhead. As the nature sounds reclaim control, the balladic melody brings a combination of David Bowie and folk prog to the fore. The number continues to grow and evolve, getting into some great rocking zones before it's over and done.
No Trains to Heaven
I dig the guitar fills on this a lot. This is a driving, rocking number that really stands tall. It's not the proggiest or glammiest thing here, but there is evidence of both here. This has some of the most powerful guitar soloing of the whole set further down the musical road.
Darkness (L'Immoraliste)
The most purely proggy thing on the album proper, this has symphonic elements and piano driving the early modes. It drops to a string enhanced balladic approach for the vocals to enter. This gets powerful and really soars as it continues.
Bonus Tracks:
               
Axe Victim (First Version)

As you probably can gather from the title and parenthetical, this is a different version of the title track. I don't hear a lot of difference, though. It's a strong tune no matter the version. Perhaps this feels a bit more like The Beatles on this recording than on the others.

Night Creatures (Spoken Word Version)

Since the title here also tells you what to expect, this is the earlier song, but with all the vocals spoken rather than sung. I think I might actually prefer it like this. It brings a different angle to it.

Rocket Cathedrals (First Version)
Without the strange introduction, this has mush more of a straightforward rock and roll sound. It's a solid tune like this.

 

 
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