BE-BOP DELUXE: RADIOLAND DELUXE: BBC RADIO 1 LIVE IN CONCERT (1976-1978/1994)
1) Life In The Air Age; 2) Sister Seagull; 3) Third Floor Heaven; 4) Blazing Apostles; 5) Maid In Heaven; 6) Kiss Of Light; 7) Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape; 8) Fair Exchange; 9) Ships In The Night; 10) Modern Music; 11) New Precision; 12) Superenigmatix; 13) Possession; 14) Dangerous Stranger; 15) Island Of The Dead; 16) Panic In The World.
This is one of those BBC packages which collects tracks that were actually played at theater venues in front of live audiences and broadcast subsequently, so it does function as a «real» live album, not «live in the studio», and is in some ways preferable to Live! In The Air Age. Most of the tracks are also chronologically coherent, dating back to early 1976 (the Sunburst Finish era; tracks 1-4, recorded at the Paris Theatre on the 15th of January) or late 1976 (the Modern Music era, recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon on the 10th of October) — with a further six-track «appendix» from a show at Golders Green Hippodrome on the 19th of January, 1978, represented exclusively by numbers from Drastic Plastic. (Note also that the whole package was originally released in 1994, then remastered and re-released in 2002 under the somewhat less clumsy title of Tremulous Antenna).
There is not really that much to say about the whole thing, except that the sound quality is excellent — Nelson's vocals and guitar blaze across the living room with as much power and clarity as you'd expect from a well-produced studio recording — and that the band, as expected, is precise and consistent throughout. The major problem is the same as with Live!: the songs just do not depart all that much from the studio counterparts, or at least the departures do not jump right out at the listener, and should rather be appreciated by long-term hardcore fans. This is a particular concern for Drastic Plastic-era material, where Nelson was leaving less space for improvisation and variation — not so much for the early stuff; in that respect, as usual, ʽAdventures In A Yorkshire Landscapeʼ is the primary focus of attraction, with Nelson and keyboardist Andy Clark taking turns to offer their spontaneous bursts of inspiration to the listeners.
On the other hand, it may be interesting, for instance, to hear the entire ʽModern Musicʼ suite performed without the cloak of studio trickery, or ʽNew Precisionʼ without the «walking into the sea» overdubs of splashing water, but with extra guitar and keyboard noises to suggest aquatic interference rather than simply bring it over, or a slightly «lazier», but no less mind-blowing call of the seagull at the end of ʽSister Seagullʼ... there, I have pretty much exhausted the list of differences. But when all has been really said and done, Radioland is basically just a way of revisiting the different, but similar faces of this band one last time — particularly since I have no problem whatsoever with the track selection (no repeats, as is BBC's custom, and no mediocre material from the early Futurama days, bar the great concise hits). Thumbs up.
Check "Radioland Deluxe" (CD) on Amazon