Be Bop Deluxe: Sunburst Finish review – Guitar-driven pop/rock with a sci-fi concept

Fri, Dec 28, 2018, 00:00


Sunburst Finish

Be Bop Deluxe

Cherry Red


Do we commiserate or applaud music acts that refuse to be pigeonholed? Approval is good for art-driven ego, pity is unwanted empathy – the two added together rarely benefit a bank balance.

This is why UK post-prog and pre-punk band Be Bop Deluxe shone brightly and quickly between arty glam rock/pop (Roxy Music, Cockney Rebel) and punk (Sex Pistols, The Damned, et al).

Fronted by Leeds guitarist Bill Nelson, Be Bop Deluxe were that classic example of a band so unequivocally focused they lost sight of what was taking place in the margins. Hence albums as undeniably inventive yet out of kilter as Sunburst Finish.

The band’s third album (which also had a guitar-linked title, after 1974’s Axe Victim and 1975’s Futurama) was ambitious, to say the least, with a sci-fi concept underpinning in-development pop/rock songs that were driven (sometimes to extremes) by Nelson’s prowess as an elegant, virtuosic guitarist.

Were Be Bop Deluxe too late or too early in terms of hitting the zeitgeist? Yes and yes – alas, pop music has little time for those that don’t hit the mark at exactly the right time.