Be Bop Deluxe

Axe VictimAxe Victim
Blazing ApostlesSunburst Finish
Fair ExchangeSunburst Finish
Jet Silver And The Dolls Of VenusAxe Victim
Jets At DawnAxe Victim
Maid In HeavenFuturama
Modern MusicModern Music
Music In DreamlandFuturama
Ships In The NightSunburst Finish
Sister SeagullFuturama



Contributor: Paul Glinn

Be Bop Deluxe were formed in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1972 and went on to make five great albums for the Harvest label between 1974 and 1978. Those were the days when most people were making an album a year, something that would be deemed prolific these days! They defied specific genre classification, as they spanned prog rock, glam rock and good old rock and roll.

Bill Nelson was the band’s leader; vocalist, lead guitarist, writer and driving force and there were various personnel changes behind him. Sometimes compared to Bowie, their sound developed and changed album by album, but always anchored by Nelson’s distinctive vocals and guitar playing.

They enjoyed limited commercial success with the single Ships In The Night from their third album Sunburst Finish. This was the only single to really trouble the charts (No.23) back in 1976 and from memory it did result in an appearance on Top Of The Pops. Their last three studio albums (plus Live! In The Air Age) fared somewhat better in the LP charts. To me, they were definitely an album band and one who also put on a great live show.

Me and my fellow teenage chums from Taunton saw them play live three times at Bristol Colston Hall back in the day, travelling up the M5 in an old van after College.

Be Bop Deluxe – a much underrated band. I’d love to know if there are any more devotees out there. For anyone (having listened to my toppermost) wanting to check them out, I would recommend the compilation album Futurist Manifesto.

Bill Nelson website, includes Be Bop Deluxe discography

Bill Nelson Toppermost #457

Be Bop Deluxe biography (iTunes)

Bill Nelson has made a quite staggering number of albums over the last three decades since Be Bop Deluxe split. They are detailed here.

TopperPost #161


  1. Colin Duncan
    Jan 9, 2014

    I saw Be Bop Deluxe and I remember it being a great show in 1972 or 1973. I never bought any of the albums because you can’t follow every band. I remember them being well dressed. I may seek out the compilation album because I’ve noticed over the years Bill Nelson continues to get good reviews. Enjoyed the list and article.

    • Paul Glinn
      Jan 10, 2014

      Thanks Colin. They certainly were a dapper group! Having ditched my vinyl collection many years ago, I feel the need to replace them with CDs. I feel a trip to Amazon coming on.

  2. Colin Duncan
    Jan 10, 2014

    I mentioned their dress, Paul, because I think it got them some criticism at the time when the norm was jeans and tee shirts, but I remember the concert well. In my part of Scotland at that time, I saw many of the bands that looked as if they were going to break. Although I saw some of the biggest bands, often you had to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow to see them. I was on Amazon today, coincidentally, buying two John Martyn albums on CD that I had previously had on vinyl. That’s me complete now. I have had a definite buying approach for many years, trying to support the remaining shops. I’m collecting Gene Clark solo material just now, but I think I’ll investigate the Be Bops. Thanks for your reply.

  3. Rob Millis
    Jan 11, 2014

    I remember reading an interview with Bill Nelson years ago in a guitarists’ monthly mag, and always meant to investigate further but never did. Like Micky Jones in Man, it would appear that what we have here is a criminally inventive guitarist whose band deserved so much better fortune.

  4. Keith Shackleton
    Jan 12, 2014

    I saw them in 1978 at the Halifax Civic, on the Drastic Plastic tour, as Nelson began to push the envelope a little and introduce more Bowie/Eno and New Pop electronic sounds. You could put Electrical Language into a Bill Nelson ten, it’s where his solo career really began, I think. Furniture Music and Do You Dream In Colour would have to be in there too for me, but the quiet storm of album releases after that, well, I’ll leave those to a true devotee. The gig was notable also for the appearance of one John Cooper-Clarke as support, the first time I’d seen him. The kind of baffling but fun gig pair-ups you could get in 1978.

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