Here is the 2nd of the 6 unboxing videos we are doing looking at the Be Bop Deluxe – Deluxe Box Sets from Esoteric Recordings. I am joined on this video and all the Be Bop Deluxe videos by Chris Wright who is a huge fan of the band. Phil Aston
This 3 CD/ 1DVD limited edition deluxe box set by Esoteric Recordings is simply the ultimate package of Futurama, Be Bop Deluxe’s second album.
Like the deluxe box of the first album, it does a superb job of telling the story of the changes in the band that led to the arrival of Simon Fox on drums and, initially, ex-Cockney Rebel members Milton Reame-James on keyboards and Paul Jeffries on bass.
Bill was ultimately unhappy with the chemistry of Milton and Paul, so he and Simon set about the task of initially finding a new bass player. New Zealander Charlie Tumahai deeply impressed them at his audition. They loved the flair of his playing and showmanship and immediately took him to a coffee bar and asked him to join the band. Keen to find a new band after leaving his previous group Mississippi, Charlie accepted immediately.
Early in 1975, the trio of Bill, Simon and Charlie packed their bags for the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales to record what would become Futurama, with Roy Thomas Baker as producer. Roy had, of course, been making a name for himself on Queen’s early LPs. This was to be the only album that Roy would make with Be Bop, however, as he and Bill didn’t always see eye to eye.
Andrew Clark was also soon recruited on keyboards, but too late to appear on this sophomore album. Crucially, though, the classic line-up of Be Bop Deluxe had formed.
Although Axe Victim was itself a bold statement of intent, Futurama, with its stylish and distinctive George Hardie-illustrated cover, took Be Bop music to a whole new level, with an incredible song set including classics like the blistering opening track Stage Whispers, Maid In Heaven, Sister Seagull, Music In Dreamland and Between The Worlds. In fact there’s not a weak moment to be found anywhere.
This fantastically well-curated box set features the original album remastered on CD1, with two additional tracks (the single version of Between The Worlds and Lights). The second CD showcases a new stereo mix of the album with two additional bonus tracks, the Phonogram Studios version of Music In Dreamland and another alternative version of Between The Worlds.
Unlike with Axe Victim, where I very much prefer the original album mix, the Futurama remix by Stephen W Tayler has an extra clarity and liveliness that I find irresistible. It is very likely now my go-to Futurama CD.
On CD3 there are some real treats in store; a great John Peel Session from March 1975 and a fantastic performance and great quality recording of a BBC Radio One “In Concert” show from May of the same year.
The DVD contains a new 5.1 surround sound mix, new 96 Khz / 24-Bit stereo mix and a 96 Khz / 24-Bit original stereo mix, plus bonus video material of two tracks – Maid In Heaven and Sister Seagull – from an Old Grey Whistle Test show broadcast on 19th July 1975, together with a Harvest Records promo video of Maid In Heaven.
As if all that weren’t enough the whet the appetite of any Be Bop devotee, there are also four nicely printed colour picture cards with band images, a Futurama promotional poster and a simply fabulous accompanying 68-page book that’s lavishly illustrated and includes a very insightful and informative essay by Bill.
I find it impossible to fault this marvelous box set. Originally released in May 2019, it’s still possible to find copies, but I would advise you to purchase very soon, as we’ve seen with the Sunburst Finish box set, which we will look at next, that these sets have been incredibly popular and, in the case of Sunburst, are beginning to attract eye watering prices.
Chris Wright | Now Spinning Magazine