Be Bop Deluxe

Music Arcade Blues

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Despite the sleeve's insistence that tracks one through seven hail from a London Marquee gig in August 1976, they don't. The crowd's too big, the sound's too good, and there was never an orchestra pit at the Marquee, as there was no room for one. It's more likely a BBC concert broadcast, hence the great sound and superb mix and the palpable sense that this album captures the band at precisely the right moment in their history. The cod-prog-reggae "Ships in the Night" had just handed Be Bop Deluxe their first proper hit single, "Kiss of Light" was poised to hopefully follow it, and the band itself was on the cusp of a most delicious dilemma. Pop stars or pop art? Decisions, decisions.... "Modern Music Suite," the ponderously foreboding title cut from their latest album, went the latter route, of course, a technical drawing class set to music. But "Ships," "Kiss," and the scary movie-themed "Twilight Capers" scream "see me, feel me, luurrrrvve me!" with abandon, and the audience claps and sings its soul out. We know which direction they want the band to go in, and just for a few fleeting moments, the band knew it as well. The 1976 set is followed by four cuts apparently lifted from the band's official live album from the following year, while a closing studio track, "Speed of Wind," claims to be a rare B-side. The sound quality on these final tracks is not great, but it does bear repeat listens. The earlier material, on the other hand, demands them.

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