Sunburst Finish review by Be Bop Deluxe

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  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Be Bop Deluxe: Sunburst Finish

Sound — 9
Released in 1976, "Sunburst Finish" is the third studio album by the Progressive Rock band, Be-Bop Deluxe. Although well known in their home of the UK, Be-Bop Deluxe never truly broke mainstream in North America. Although the band toured with acts such as the Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, and Iggy Pop, songwriter, singer and guitarist Bill Nelson dissolved the band at the beginning of their potential North American success. With a sound that could be compared to the combination of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and even Rush, Be-Bop Deluxe managed to work all around the board of Rock and Roll with "Sunburst Finish". The album comes soaring in on the first track "Fair Exchange", displaying the bands ability to progress through sounds, tempo changes and Bill Nelson's sonic guitar work. "Sunburst Finish" goes on to please with lush combinations of acoustic and electric guitars, beautifully orchestrated keyboards and bass and drums to fill every inch of the listener's speaker. With every track Nelson's guitar work seems to speak more and more and on "Crying To The Sky", Nelson displays not only his mastery of the guitar alone, but his ability as a sound technician as well. While primarily a Rock album, one the best qualities found on "Sunburst Finish" is the wonderful blend of instrumental stylings. Each track forces the members of Be-Bop Deluxe to change and progress within minutes and it could not be executed any better. Heard wonderfully on tracks such as "Sleep That Burns", which moves from it's running drum beat to the malaguenas guitar style. Which each song flowing smoothly into another, the overall sound, and combination of sounds found on "Sunburst Finish" are arguably impossible to find displeasing to almost any fan of classic rock.

Lyrics — 9
With an album filled with such extravagant musical qualities, lyrical content is an extremely important characteristic used in each song on "Sunburst Finish". Bill Nelson writes each song in very poetic fashions, filling stanzas with similes and metaphors, making sure each line blends properly with the next and that each song tells a kind of story. Nelson cleverly explains his views on the human condition, society, and even fantasy through his lyrical musings on "Sunburst Finish". "Life In The Air Age" is written first person as a man describing his life in a future world that is cold and without the warmth of his childhood. Nelson sings "you can leave me in the air age if you'd like, but I'd really love to go back, to my own time". But Nelson's literary strength is evident throughout the album as he goes between the more pop-oriented lyrical styling's of "Ships In The Night" to the more scholarly style's found on tracks "Beauty Secrets" and "Crystal Gazing". Along with his writing, Nelson also carried a powerful voice. Layering each song with harmonies and carefully constructed melodies, Nelson made sure that the voice was just as much an instrument as the rest. The lead single on "Sunburst Finish", "Ships In The Night" is the perfect example of Nelson's mixture of lyrical style and vocal attributes, making it one of the stand out tracks on the album for any listener.

Overall Impression — 9
While high praise can often be seen as unfair, biased judgment, "Sunburst Finish" is a truly exceptional rock album that any fan of classic rock should own. One may be hard pressed to find a fan of Be-Bop Deluxe today, but all the ones around only have a world of praise for their forgotten rock stars. So take the opportunity to discover, or for some, rediscover Be-Bop Deluxe through their classic album "Sunburst Finish", and find out why Bill Nelson was seen as one of the most promising up and coming guitarists of his time. A timeless album by a timeless band that just begs to be listened to as a whole, the experience the listener deserves.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    CaliforniaKid wrote: Best album cover ever. Why someone would review a 35 year-old album is beyond me... but Bill Nelson could best most of the so-called guitar gods around today.
    Because the reviewer has an opinion abut it that he would like to share with us.Because some might have not heard abut it and this is their first contact with the album/band/artist,surely that is not beyond the realm of possibility.In any case,a bit of vintage never hurts.
    Nelson in BeBop Deluxe was a genius and an aesthetic eccentric, which made for wonderfully inventive and unusual tempos, melody changes and signatures all within a single song. It reminds me a bit of the wise saying about discovering a whole world in a single drop of water. That's Bill. Way ahead of his time. Even the cover for Modern Music has what looks to be a perfect iWatch on his wrist, in 1978. Criminally underappreciated. Young listeners should listen to "The Sleep that Burns,""Fair Exchange," "Modern Music Suite," "Maid in Heaven,""Sister Seagull," "Flaming Desire, extended version,""Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape," "Jets at Dawn," "For Young Moderns," "Jan with Flowers," "Panic in the World." The best albums are Sunburst Finish and Modern Music, but all his stuff is good, up to Red Noise and The Love that Whirls." After that he becomes more ambient and eclectic, and probably for more adventurous fans. The guy could do it all. He played and recorded in Japan where he is a guitar god, and discovered A Flock of Seagulls. He went from master guitar hero to mostly synths and keyboards, because, like Picasso, he was such a master, he knew what he could leave out. His guitar work is never less than hyper-cool. He could do Jaz, Blues, Rock, New Wave, ambient, Asian, even punk. And without in any way being plastic or shallow. HE always took it somewhere new. Pure heart and brilliant mind. And still going strong. His website is a lot of fun. Bill was a firm futurist, so the current world is right up his alley. Head to Youtube and Spotify and enjoy. He his not like anyone else, so give the music time to grow on you. It is a bit like learning a special language. It takes a few listens, and then it clicks. The best music always takes some time to grasp. Bill's is the brass ring.
    After consideration of the replies to my post, I feel it necessary to retract the first part of my comment. I agree that this record should be heard by every guitar enthusiast no matter their age. Sunburst Finish was the first BBD album I heard... and it remains one of my favourites, even thirty-five years later. I've worn out several copies on my old turntable and have had the CD since 1993. I have been a fan of BBD and the recordings of Bill Nelson most of my life. Kudos to the kid who thought enough of this record to review it in this forum. Ya'll might want to check out the song "Octoberman" on Nelson album "A Love that Whirls".... some of the best use of an E-Bow ever.
    I used to like them back in the day and could never understand why they weren't bigger than they were. I recently got this album on CD and I don't think it sounds as good as the original vinyl copy which is much punchier and dynamic. But great to see people on here discovering Bebop Deluxe.
    Best album cover ever. Why someone would review a 35 year-old album is beyond me... but Bill Nelson could best most of the so-called guitar gods around today.
    Great album and if you like that try Axe Victim (my favourite be bop album) and Modern Music also. I have all of the studio albums and they all have gems and they are all solid albums.
    CaliforniaKid wrote: Best album cover ever. Why someone would review a 35 year-old album is beyond me... but Bill Nelson could best most of the so-called guitar gods around today.
    I think it's great that old music is being brought to the forefront again. Its all too often that younger generations don't know about the classics. New reviews bring new perspective and new audience, which a group like Be-Bop definitely deserves. Z.
    Thanks for the positive feedback guys! ...Now, if only they would have made my username correct haha!
    I happen to know the young man (under 20) who wrote this article, and if more of our young people directed their energies in the same manner, the world would be a better place. Great music never goes out of fashion.
    BBDs Futurama is perhaps still my orgie guitar album No1 after Sunburst Finish Modern Music, Axe Victimand Blue Moons & Laughing Guitars who is some kind of BBDs rebirth in the 90ths. A other point of view is that Bills guitar is remarkable creative and even Bills more less guitar albums are quite interesting, he make lots of licks and lines who are brilliant in the context of music he makes. So try out youtube and and take some time with his music.I still havent got bored after 30 odd years and Futurama its quite cool record... Any we Nelson-fans are still out there and we are growing because Bills music is are timeless and he was/are ahead within his music.