What does it sound like?:
The third in Cherry Red’s ongoing remaster campaign of the Be Bop Deluxe back catalogue, Modern Music is the band’s 4th studio album, first released in 1976. A 4CD, 1DVD box set or 2CD version for the less committed/completist.
Nobody should come here expecting a less than enthusiastic review – this is one of my all time favourite albums, one I’ve lived with for 40-odd years and know inside out and back to front!
Disc 1 is the new master (all remastering by Stephen W. Tayler) of the original stereo mix, a perfectly good base from which to start.
Disc 2 is where the fun really starts. This is the new 2019 stereo mix, and is, as was the case on the previous releases, a stunning reinvention. The whole thing is as crisp as could possibly be expected. Bill Nelson’s guitar and vocals are sharper and clearer, with the sound a more ‘widescreen’ feel. What really stands out, though, is Simon Fox’s drums, with crystal clear cymbals and a nicely booming bottom end. This will certainly become my ‘go-to’ version of the album.
Disc 3 contains a BBC In Concert live show, recorded on 2nd October 1976 at Hammersmith Odeon. This show was previously released on the Be Bop Deluxe at the BBC set from 2013.
Disc 4 is another live show, billed as ‘The Official Bootleg’, from the Riviera Theater, Chicago in March 1976, when the band were promoting the previous album, Sunburst Finish. No ‘Modern Music’ songs appear. This is new to me, (billed as previously unreleased) and showcases a tight, experienced band at the top of its game (although the sharp Italian suits the band were wearing at the time caused some confusion with audiences when they supported acts like Blue Oyster Cult and Ted Nugent!).
The DVD (not part of the review package) contains the 5.1 surround mix and the band’s November 1976 Whistle Test set (also previously on the ‘At the BBC’ set).
What does it all *mean*?
The last album of Bill Nelson’s ‘rock star’ period, it contains some of his best songs, and features the ‘Modern Music’ suite, particularly inspired by Bill’s experiences in America, his bemusement with the US music business and a bout of serious homesickness. Still stands up well as far as I’m concerned, but then I’m biased…
Goes well with…
The rest of your Bill Nelson collection…
Might suit people who like…
Classic albums given the full box set treatment, great songwring and top quality musicianship.