Bill Nelson, the guitarist/lead vocalist/songwriter of Be Bop Deluxe possesses the fretwork aptitude of a Jimi Hendrix, a voice similar to David Bowie, and the pop sensibilities of Queen or Roxy Music. This is the second Be Bop Deluxe album, but the first to truly show the direction the band would take for the next few recordings. It’s a transition album, and though not flawless, would be the next album to purchase if you enjoy 1976’s Modern Music and Sunburst Finish.
“Stage Whispers” begins with a flurry of in your face guitar histrionics. Bill Nelson is underrated as a guitarist, showing great prowess throughout this album. The innovative breaks of this and other songs here keep the record highly interesting as it constantly shifts off into tangents that will surely appeal to prog fans.
So many colorful songs abound on the best of Be Bop Deluxe albums. Here we have “Sister Seagull,” with a power chord guitar sequence that is as memorable as Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” or Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water.” “Love With a Madman” is a beautiful ballad. “Swan Song” is almost six minutes of ever evolving melodic progressive rock. “Jean Cocteau” is an acoustic guitar and voice piece that features Al DiMeola style flamenco jazz guitar. “Music In Dreamland,” with its happy melody is perhaps the most prominent use of Nelson‘s ability of the guitar. It is a great showcase for his soloing and pure joy of playing.
The beat poetry as lyrics always have something to say and give wonderful color to the tunes. Bill would take his band into techno-pop new wave explorations on their final album and give up the unrestrained guitar soloing for the most part on later recordings in his solo career. It’s a shame because he is truly one of the greatest unsung guitar heroes of our time.
Reviewed By Terry Jackson On January 20th, 2011