Be Bop Deluxe / Axe Victim deluxe

3CD+DVD deluxe set offers unreleased material and a 5.1 mix

Esoteric Recordings is to reissue English prog rockers Be Bop Deluxe‘s debut album Axe Victim as a four-disc deluxe box set in June.

The album was originally released by EMI’s Harvest imprint in June 1974 and featured the band’s first line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, piano), Ian Parkin (rhythm & acoustic guitars, organ), Rob Bryan (bass guitar, vocals) and Nicholas Chatterton-Dew (drums).

This reissue features a newly remastered edition of the album (from the original tapes) and features two CDs of largely unreleased material, including two complete Radio One sessions and the complete previously unreleased Be Bop Deluxe audition for Decca Records from December 1973! (mixed from the original 16 track tapes by Stephen W Tayler).

Tayler has also been responsible a new 5. 1 surround sound mix and a stereo mix of the album created from the original multi-track tapes. These both feature on the included DVD.

This limited-edition box set comes with a 68-page book with unseen photos and an essay of recollections by Bill Nelson. It also comes with a poster and postcards.

Axe Victim will be released on 17 July 2020 (was 19 June) via Esoteric.

CD 1
1. Axe Victim
2. Love Is Swift Arrows
3. Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus
4. Third Floor Heaven
5. Night Creatures
6. Rocket Cathedrals
7. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape
8. Jets at Dawn
9. No Trains to Heaven
10. Darkness (L’immoraliste)
11. Teenage Archangel (1973 Single)
12. Jets at Dawn (1973 Single Version)
13. No Trains to Heaven
14. (First Mix) (Previously Unreleased)
15. Axe Victim (Album Version – First Mix) (Previously Unreleased)

CD 2
1. Axe Victim
2. Love Is Swift Arrows
3. Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus
4. Third Floor Heaven
5. Night Creatures
6. Rocket Cathedrals
7. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape
8. Jets at Dawn (Full Version)
9. No Trains to Heaven
10. Darkness (L’immoraliste)
11. Axe Victim (First Version)(Previously Unreleased)
12. Night Creatures (Spoken Word Version) (Previously Unreleased)
13. Rocket Cathedrals (First Version) (Previously Unreleased)

CD 3
1. Axe Victim (BBC Session November 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
2. Bluesy Ruby (BBC Session November 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
3. Tomorrow the World (BBC Session November 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
4. The Decca Session – 13th December 1973:
5. Axe Victim (Decca Session 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
6. I’ll Be Your Vampire (Decca Session 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
7. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape (Decca Session 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
8. Bluesy Ruby (Decca Session 1973)(Previously Unreleased)
9. Third Floor Heaven (BBC Session May 1974)
10. Mill Street Junction (BBC Session May 1974)
11. 15th of July (Invisibles)(BBC Session May 1974)

1. Axe Victim (5.1 Surround Mix)
2. Love Is Swift Arrows (5.1 Surround Mix)
3. Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus (5.1 Surround Mix)
4. Third Floor Heaven (5.1 Surround Mix)
5. Night Creatures (5.1 Surround Mix)
6. Rocket Cathedrals (5.1 Surround Mix)
7. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape(5.1 Surround Mix)
8. Jets at Dawn (Full Version) (5.1 Surround Mix)
9. No Trains to Heaven (5.1 Surround Mix)
10. Darkness (L’immoraliste) (5.1 Surround Mix)
11. Axe Victim (First Version)
12. (Previously Unreleased) (5.1 Surround Mix)
13. Night Creatures (Spoken Word Version) (Previously Unreleased) (5.1 Surround Mix)
14. Rocket Cathedrals (First Version) (Previously Unreleased) (5.1 Surround Mix)
15. Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape (Bbc Session May 1974)

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Hi, I have only just ordered this, this weekend. But I am so looking forward to it arriving, I have read a few reviews and there seems to be a positive response out there to this Box Set. I have all the others Sunburst Finish, Futurama and Modern Music. And I feel Cherry Red did an excellent job on those, so this should be special. I bought this album back in the day when it first came out, so it is special to me. You can’t please everybody all of the time, there’s always someone who isn’t happy, but on the whole I think these Be Bop Deluxe Expanded Box set were put together with a lot of love and care, and are excellent.

Phil Cohen

Now, after Cherry Red’s website charged my credit card, they’re already hinting (on their website) that the set may not be releassed on June 19th, after all, because of the virus crisis. I fail to understand how record companies think that it will be in their best interests to release nothing. Releasing nothing doesn’t make money.
My only other pre-ordered release anywhere in the world(preordered with a U.S.A. dealer) was the Nick Mason Blu-ray disc, but there I wasn’t charged in advance. That disc was postponed until October, and probably won’t be released then, either.
If this trend continues, then the “Classic Rock” archival reissue scene is truly dead and gone. I’ve had enough. In the future, the only CD’s I’ll buy will be blank. There’s more than enough free downloads available (on the internet) to fill those blank discs.
Would I change my mind if there were to be archival releases by The Beatles(group or solo), The Beach Boys, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan or The Rolling Stones? Yes, but the labels will likely determine, that without access to Amazon’s millions of customers, that it is not financially viable to release them. Amazon grew too powerful and has the ability(merely by refusing to stock newly released products) to shut down or cripple entire industries.
As for The Cherry Red group of labels (and their actions with respect to the “Be Bop Deluxe-Axe Victim” boxed set), I’m feeling burnt that they too have succumbed to the “no release” strategy. I wouldn’t trust Cherry Red or order from their website again.

Paul Kent

What a bizarre rant. I mean, you are actually aware of what’s going on out there, are you? We’ve all got product ordered that may take longer to reach us than expected. So what? You spitting out your dummy and decrying the Death Of Classic Rock, while actual people are dying in horrifyingly huge numbers is in the poorest of taste. Grow up, FFS!

Phil Cohen


It’s not just music & video discs that are affected by Amazon’s decision. It’s also office supplies, books, Cameras, videogame hardware and software, clothing, shoes, jewelery, sporting goods, computers,televisions, smartphones, small kitchen appliances,gardening supplies etc.
It means that people in the factories that produce these goods lose their jobs, and none of Amazon’s actions will result in a cure or vaccine for the corona virus. It’s easy for people like you to say that if Amazon won’t sell the products that we want, then go to other online dealers. But, if manufacturers respond to the loss of access to Amazon’s millions of customers by introducing fewer (or no) new products, then going to other online dealers will be useless.
By the way, it’s not classic rock that’s dying, per se, but that there will be no more future products aimed at the classic rock consumers. It could be 2 years or more until there are no more corona virus cases. Most businesses and industries can’t survive a lockdown that lengthy.


Okay, firstly, you need to calm down. Relax. It’s music, it can wait. The delays aren’t something Cherry Red have chosen to do out of laziness, not caring, or simply for the fits and giggles – there’s a worldwide pandemic going on. For some strange reason you have forgotten that these sets need to be manufactured, assembled, and shipped out. How is that going to happen today? If it’s happening at all, it’s happening at a much slower rate than it did previously. That may mean release windows get moved back. It happens, and while it may be disappointing it’s better people take precautions to protect their lives than worry too much about a delay of a box set.

Secondly, your accusation that Amazon is busy killing off physical media is also incorrect. Physical media is being killed off by the labels. The industry wants you to stream. They want you to pay for streaming. That way they get recurring revenue and have to do the minimal amount of work. Get some files, hand them over to the streaming service, and they’re done. Simple. Sadly, the masses have spoken and they seem quite enamored with this new service (yeah, music as a service [shiver]). Those of us wanting physical media are a smaller group, we’re not their main audience. The business is also busy releasing titles as “Collectables”, rather than straight up releases. Hence we get lots of colored Vinyl releases, picture discs, and the like – all in needlessly limited editions so they can sell it to you again later in a different color. And again, fans seem to be digging this. I don’t get it myself, I think it’s a big con. But if people buy it, they’ll make it. Since it’s a “collectable”, there’s just as much talk about its “value” as there is about the actual music. It’s sad, but again, fans have spoken.

Next up, don’t confuse Cherry Red with the rest of the business. Cherry Red isn’t Sony, it isn’t Universal Music, and so on. It’s a boutique label that must license all the music it puts out. It’s a tough business to be in, because they rarely get titles that are huge hits – the majors skim those off. However, while they’re a boutique label, they are making a name for themselves by putting together sets that go above and beyond. In fact they shame many of the majors. Let’s be clear – if it were not for the likes of Cherry Red we wouldn’t be getting these Be Bop sets. We wouldn’t be getting the 5.1 surround mixes. We wouldn’t be getting the outtakes and live shows. No major label has shown any willingness to do this for these titles. That we’re getting them at all is a minor miracle. Rejoice in that.

As for delaying the releases hurting jobs – wrong again. The truth is, when this pandemic is over, there is going to be a glut of releases that have been put off coming to the fore. Cherry Red, and other labels, are going to be clamoring to get stuff out there. A lot of releases have been put back, and it’s going to be tough to find the capacity to get things done quickly. We simply have be patient.

Finally, there is one thing where I think you’re correct in your concerns. I’d order from Cherry Red directly a lot more often if they didn’t charge you immediately. I don’t like that. As in this case, the item is delayed, and they have your cash. That is not how this is supposed to work. I pre-ordered from Amazon for this very reason – they’ll only charge when the item ships. This is the only fair way to do it, imo.

Phil Cohen

At least, the flow of CD’s & L.P.’s by younger artists (at the start of their careers) continues unimpeded, because, for those recordings, the labels urgently need to recoup the recording session costs. Ironically, those artists’ fans prefer downloading and streaming.
Last last night, I was listening to some mellow instrumental music on a compact stereo system next to my bed, and I came to a conclusion that will lead to greater happiness and listening pleasure. With respect to manufactured discs (and perhaps, eventually, with my homemade CD-R’s), the answer is to stop wanting more.
Problem solved. And this (often) insomniac got a very restful night’s sleep. Good luck to all of you.


With Amazon UK and Germany currently not shipping to the US, I’ve been turning to ImportCDs and surprised about their really good prices. I have a pending order for the Be-Bop set for $47.39 and two new Esoteric Strawbs reissues (Burning For You and Heartbreak Hill) which are an amazing $10.79 each. The shipping for all three items is only $5.97 and there’s tax depending on your state. And, if you pay by credit card — and NOT PayPal — they don’t charge you until it ships.

Philip J Birtwistle

A 5.1 of Live In The Air Age would be fab. As stated below, get the tracks back in the correct running order, remove the annoying fade on Blazing Apostles, and hopefully see what else was played but left off if anything). This is a must though, should be stunning if the other sets are anything to go by.

Reb Elan

Cherry Red really are a great label for stuff like this. When it comes to stuff that’s just off the beaten track but still with some commercial appeal, they seem to be the ideal model.

Nice people too, by all accounts.

Mic Smith

I’m a big fan of Be Bop Deluxe and Bill Nelson and am pleased to see these albums getting the SDE treatment. I wouldn’t call BBD prog though. They had a Glam Rock image when they started in 1972 which they shed by the time of their second album Futurama and from that point I’d bracket them in the Art Rock category alongside bands such as 10cc and Roxy Music. All in themselves different sounding bands but all trying to push the envelope a bit further than your average pop- rock band of the day and certainly more concise in their composition of the great prog rock bands of the day (all of which I loved too back then). The closest BBD came to prog was the Modern Music suite which is 6 short songs spread over 12 minutes – some of Nelson’s guitar work matches that of the likes of Howe, Hackett and Fripp but within the framework of the bands sound they were more about being a straight ahead rock band (Like an Old Blues on Sunburst Finish is similar to 1970/71 Status Quo to my ears for instance).

Henry Martinez

Should Live! In The Air Age be included in this current run of remasters it would be great if it was returned to the original playing order with Shine, Sister Seagull, and Maid In Heaven between Fair Exchange and Mill Street Junction. That’s the way it’s listed on the back of the original jacket.

Steven Roberts

I’ll be honest, while I am familiar with the name Be Bop Deluxe (and of Bill Nelson), I am not familiar with their oeuvre – so it is a (pleasant) surprise that Cherry Red/Esoteric have gone the extra mile and included 5.1 mixes for each album re-released thus far…

My question is – WHY have they gone to the expense of commissioning 5.1 for the BBD albums, and why HAVEN’T they bothered for, frankly, a higher profile artist such as Howard Jones?

Is it because they don’t think pop works in 5.1 – whereas they think prog does?
Is it the wish of the artists that a 5.1 mix be done (or not)?
Did they think they needed the enticement of 5.1 mixes to shift more Be Bop Boxes?
And did they think they’d shift enough HoJo without the added enticment of 5.1 mixes?
Maybe in the case of HoJo they just couldn’t be arsed?

I think you need to interview someone at Cherry Red, Paul :)

Derek Langsford

I agree with you Steven. I am happy for Be Bop Deluxe fans they are getting 5.1 mixes but guitar and drum-based bands are not my favorites so will hope some of Bill’s solo work gets similar treatment though he has far too much material to warrant it all being done.

The HoJo sets badly needed 5.1 mixes to make them worthwhile after the earlier, very well remastered boxes put out by HoJo himself. I never felt compelled to even get even the 2CD+DVD editions.

Paul Kent

So, basically, you’re unhappy at the lack of any 5.1 mixes for Howard Jones and you want Paul to find out why for you? How about asking Cherry Red yourself?

Steven Roberts

Because I’m just a curious punter and don’t happen to run a world-recognised blog/website that has the ear of the record companies like our esteemed host.

Rich Steinmetz

Steven, I think you need to do some more digging :) Boy do I wish there were some gold nuggets like Be Bop Deluxe that I haven’t discovered yet

Steven Roberts

Well, in my defence I will say the 5.1 issue is only really covered in passing in the interview, and basically says (if I understood it correctly) that Howard would like to do it at some point – but doesn’t really go in to why the label didn’t see fit to do it this time around.

If I were a cynic it would lead me to believe that Cherry Red were holding back such content to give fans a reason to double dip later…..


Is Howard Jones really higher profile than Bill Nelson these days?

In any event, Nelson has an obsessive cult following who are pretty much guaranteed to snap up anything to do with him, & that’s before you even get to the people who have a more casual interest in BBD.


It’s because there is no simple decision tree for these things. There is no, “if this, why not that?” It’s on a label-by-label, artist-by-artist basis. That and the availability of master tapes. They could have done Howard Jones 5.1’s, and you’d be asking why Donna Summer isn’t. In reality – the business simply doesn’t work this way.

The thing about Bill Nelson is, while he had success with Be Bop, he was never elevated to being a household name. He has made his way on the fringe, cut his own furrow. With that said, the fans he does have are committed. They’d buy these sets without the 5.1. Cherry Red know that while Bill doesn’t have tens of millions of fans out there, those he has are going to be willing to buy these boxes. We get the 5.1 as a glorious bonus.

It would be great if every popular band got sets like these, or like Tull’s book sets. But for various reasons, be it rights, the suits being unwilling to invest, the artist not caring, or any one of millions of reasons, we don’t get them. Depending on your taste in music, you may be delighted or slighted. I happen to be unlike yourself, Steve. I’ve no interest in Howard Jones, but these Be Bop releases? I’m all over them.


I remember seeing Be Bop Deluxe at the Old Rep in Birmingham in 1974 supporting a solo Peter Hammill. I was blown away by this amazing guitarist with the clean cut image. Of course, I bought the album as soon as it came out and of course I was disappointed that it didn’t have the raw, Rick n roll edge of that first live performance. Saw them later as support to Cockney Rebel the again at a small gig at Wolves Poly where I found out he had split the original band and taken on a couple of Cockney Rebel. Not in same league as the original band, in my opinion and I grabbed Bill Nelson later to tell him. Yes, I had had a few drinks but Bill was a true gent when he could have told me to p*ss off. Still, I always had a soft spot for the band and I will probably buy this, even though I am now officially a pensioner and I am trying to wean myself off box sets!

What? 2020? Worry?

CD1 TRACK 14 seems to be missing the track name unless it’s called ‘First Mix’

Derek in Canada

I second Mister Stick’s comment on Live In the Air Age. I would love to hear it in 5.1,
if only because of one track: Shine. It’s timeless.
Wishing Bill, and all of you here(especially Paul), health and strength in these difficult times.


I’m just waiting for Soud-No-Sound and Quit Dreaming And Get on the Beam as deluxe edition. Someone can tell if Esoteric Records plan to release these albums as deluxe box sets??
Please let me know !!!!


Sound on Sound is coming. Haven’t heard anything on Quit Dreaming. I’ve also heard nothing regarding Live in the Air Age. It’d be a shame if that one was missed. The one I’ve most wanted is Drastic Plastic, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait, there’s a lot of live stuff from that era.

Phil Cohen

The “Axe Victim” box is one of only two remaining pre-orders for CD’s that I have anywhere in the world. Since it wasn’t (at the time) listed by any Amazon site, I ordered from Cherry Red, despite their harsh shipping charges, and their unwillingness to subtract the VAT when selling to overseas customers. And then, of course, subsequently Amazon/UK imposed an embargo against American customers. I hope that this box is released, because Cherry Red has already charged my credit card.
Let’s hope that the Cherry Red group of labels continues to maintain an active release schedule (while other labels run and hide).

David Bly

As I mentioned on another thread, here in the US I bought both super deluxe and deluxe editions of “Axe Victim” from a US company called PopMarket for a total of $71.26 (tax included).

It was one of their “daily deals” today (7th April), which means they are cheaper are have free shipping on that day. As all Amazons are pulling all sorts of shite, it is worth getting things this way, even as they might be cheaper later on.

But I certainly understand ultimately paying more, as one wonders if things will ever arrive in the first place!


Waiting for Drastic Plastic…

Bill Nelson is superbly talented but I really only became a fan after Modern Music.
Deluxe editions of Drastic Plastic and Sound On Sound would be most welcome.

After that it would be more of a question of him raising the archives and curating stuff from his prolific works. Bill and Prince seem to have (had) a similar work ethic.

These deluxe editions do seem to be well put together though (if Modern Music is anything to go by).


Actually, I think it was during an interview, they’ve already said we’re getting Drastic Plastic (which admittedly is a no-brainer since we got the other albums), along with Red Noise. So it does indeed seem we’ll get the Sound-on-Sound box that both you and I crave.

Ian Hartley

If you visit the Cherry Red store they always have a few signed postcards from Bill as well ! You need to be quick though. These collections are superb if you are a fan and well put together. Recommended !

Don Cooper

Very welcome.Saw Bill n’ the boys twice in the Seventies.The very real deal.
Bill’s work should be lauded to the heavens-forever.

Take care and stay safe, everyone…

Paul Johnson

Just fantastic, album no.4 in the series, only 2 more to go, Esoteric has done a wonderful job with these reissues, the new stereo mixes are the highlight of each box set so far…

Bill Cannon

Agreed, excellent job on each one to date. The remastered stereo mixes are stunning. Looking forward to this and the next two!

Mister Stick

Saw this on Cherry Red’s site a couple of weeks ago, and delighted to. One of the strongest records in the BBD collection, no doubt, and the preceding sets have been great, as was said above. Would love to see them speed up completion of the series if they could… Dying to get Live In The Air Age, and I understand the Red Noise album, Bill Nelson’s first after Be Bop, will be released the same way.

Nelson is having a tough time of it right now, even more than most. His vision has become quite impaired, requiring regular painful treatments. Meanwhile he is trying to care for an elderly mother who has been in and out of a nursing home. His journal at billnelson.com tells the tale. Anyone who has been in similar situations can relate. I’m sure seeing one of his hallmark albums getting a proud new edition will be a boost for Bill.