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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » Be Bop Deluxe - 1978 Drastic Plastic
Be Bop Deluxe - 1978 Drastic Plastic

ARTIST: Be Bop Deluxe
ALBUM: Drastic Plastic
LABEL: Harvest
SERIAL: SW 11750 (USA), SHSP-4091 (UK)
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1991, CDP-794332 (with 3 bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Bill Nelson - lead vocals, guitars, synthesizers * Andy Clark - synthesizer, moog * Charlie Tumahai - bass, background vocals * Simon Fox - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Electrical Language * 02 New Precision * 03 New Mysteries * 04 Surreal Estate * 05 Love In Flames * 06 Panic In The World * 07 Dangerous Stranger * 08 Superenigmatix ( Lethal Appliances For The Home With Everything) * 09 Visions Of Endless Hopes * 10 Possession * 11 Islands Of The Dead ** Bonus Tracks (1991) 12 Blimps * 13 Lovers Are Mortal * 14 Lights

In 1978 I was in the tank for Be Bop Deluxe. I had bought everything I could get my hands on or what my part time job at a local pizza parlor could afford me and yet when 'Drastic Plastic' came out I wanted to burn my Be Bop LP's like a crazed Evangelist. At that time the punk thing was new and I had yet to understand what it was all about. Hell, I still didn't know what I was all about, but I knew this was not the Be Bop Deluxe sound I played to death on my Radio Shack turntable/ cassette deck/radio combo. This was punk in my mind, stripped down and quirky with nothing 'real rock' my young mushy brain could wrap itself around.

The Songs
That was then; this is now and 'Drastic Plastic' is one of my favourite Be Bop Deluxe albums as time heals all wounds. It's an important work as well as foreshadowing Bill Nelson's prolific experimental solo career. The first compelling change in the Be Bop sound is the heavy use of keyboards and tape loops with Nelson's guitar work, usually talking the spotlight now sitting in the back seat. Atmosphere over guitar histrionics and it works with the opening 'Electrical Language', the delightful and child-like 'Surreal Estate' setting the new direction. 'Love In Flames', Dangerous Games' and 'Possession' are the punk-ish cuts that drove me nuts way back when, but now I find it all quite charming echoing a Graham Parker & The Rumour style of songwriting that's aged like a fine wine. Not everything on 'Drastic Plastic' was cutting edge of its day with the instrumental 'Visions Of Endless Hope' and 'Islands Of The Dead' pulling from the original Be Bop sound, but the band had turned a corner and these tracks sound out of place compared to the fire and excitement of the new wave cuts.

In Summary
Following 'Drastic Plastic' and the break up of Be Bop Deluxe, Bill Nelson carried on with his new band Red Noise and the album 'Sound-On-Sound' which pre-dated and was very influential on the early '80s synth pop scene of Gary Numan and Human League. Nelson's solo career is extensive and a little intimidating although there are gems to be found including 1982's 'The Love That Whirls (Diary Of A Thinking Heart)' which I recommend to anyone into pop music with that 'something different'.

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#1 | Nick C on December 12 2015 14:03:29
Yeah...this was quite a radical departure, a bit more 'angular' than past releases in parts (Superenigmatix or Possession), it took me a little longer to get into it but now I love it. The gorgeous Visions of Endless Hopes just embodies a warm summers evening to me. Then there's the equally wonderful Islands of the Dead. It's a pity they never put the single Japan on this album as it would have fitted perfectly (it's not even a bonus track later), I think the only place you can grab that CD wise is on Raiding the Divine Archive or The Best Of and the Rest Of compilation on vinyl.
#2 | Explorer on December 12 2015 16:00:34
'Japan' features on the Futurist Manifesto Box set which came out a few years back. According to the sleeve notes it says it`s the first time it has appeared on CD.
#3 | Nick C on December 14 2015 18:02:59
They lie, why oh they lie, it's enough to make a grown man cry. Grin It's on my Raiding the Divine Archive CD on Harvest released 1990.
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