‘Axe Victim’ was the first time that Be Bop Deluxe came into the attention of critics and the public in 1974.It got a strong response from the critics – John Peel loved it – and the public alike.

Esoteric have been releasing a steady stream of remasters of Bill Nelson’s solo work and the later Be Bop Deluxe albums but this is the most impressive remastering of his work yet in my opinion. The package is in three parts – a full remaster of the original album (plus bonus tracks) from the original master tapes, a new stereo mix of the album and a 5.1 full surround mix on DVD.

I really cannot believe the difference between the new remastering and my original copy. The new version suddenly seems to have found a bass line and Nelson’s vocals have an extra edge of clarity. The original Harvest release didn’t appear to have any problems but the remaster is revelatory. Nelson’s guitar playing has extra bite and seems to have more relevance here. I can only think that – as in so many releases of the period – the Dolby compression in the original mastering was a little ‘over-active’.

Then you come to disc 2, the new stereo mix. The band are brought into tighter focus and the soundstage seems to place the musicians in the right alignments.

The package includes a booklet full of new photos and a very full account of the making of the album by Bill Nelson himself.
Be Bop Deluxe are a band with a very loyal following and this album in particular is close to many people’s hearts. This release is going to give a lot of their fans a huge lift as one of the best albums of the time is improved beyond reasonable expectations.

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