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Be-Bop Deluxe’s Drastic Plastic expanded but still elegant

Drastic Plastic was Be-Bop Deluxe’s swansong album before Bill Nelson moved on, and its consistency masked an inner turmoil



Cherry Red’s substantive Be-Bop Deluxe reissue programme now comes to the band’s final album, 1977’s Drastic Plastic

As with previous reissues, this is a minor epic: four CDs containing the original album, a 2020 mix, demos, John Peel sessions and a BBC live In Concert, all of which detail the build-up of the songs and are in themselves both fascinating and informative. 

Drastic Plastic stands up well to this treatment, being one of Bill Nelson’s most consistent sets of songs. But the consistency masks the moderate inner turmoil of the album’s creation.

Be-Bop Deluxe were coming to an end, as Nelson realised that the times were no longer right for the group’s brand of prog and glam technoflash, and a newer, more stripped-down sound was more apt for the coming era. 

Hence tracks as gorgeous as Visions Of Endless Hopes and Islands Of The Dead sit next to Bowiesque rockers like Panic In The World and the dream-pop of Electrical Language

The future would see Bill Nelson embrace new music more fully, first with his band Red Noise and then as a more ambient, ethereal sort of solo artist, but here are the last, elegant days of Be-Bop Deluxe.