01) Axe Victim
02) Love Is Swift Arrows
03) Jet Silver And The Dolls Of Venus
04) Third Floor Heaven
05) Night Creatures
06) Rocket Cathedrals
07) Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
08) Jets At Dawn
09) No Trains To Heaven
10) Darkness (L'immoraliste)
Axe Victim is the debut album from Be Bop Deluxe, recorded at Air Studios, London during March 1974. The album was the first Be Bop Deluxe recording made after signing to EMI, providing Nelson with his first opportunity to record in a professional studio. The line-up for this record was Bill Nelson (guitars and vocals), Ian Parkin (rhythm guitar), Rob Bryan (bass guitar, vocals) and Nicholas Chatterton-Dew (drums).
The album appeared on vinyl and cassette, and was promoted by the release of the single Jet Silver backed with another album track "Third Floor Heaven". Neither release resulted in any significant commercial success, although the album would be discovered by Be Bop Deluxe fans as their career developed in particular after their commercial breakthrough in 1976. The album was released in a gatefold sleeve which contained the lyrics and musician credits. With the track "Rocket Cathedrals", Rob Bryan holds the distinction of being the only musician to have provided (and sung) an original song for a Bill Nelson/Be Bop Deluxe album.
When reissued on CD in (Feb) 1991, EMI elected to enhance the album by adding 3 live bonus tracks (taken from the band's official live album Live! In the Air Age). Given that the live album was also part of the same reissue campaign, this was a missed opportunity, and the inclusion of the band's debut single would have certainly appealed to collectors far more. If you no longer kept your vinyl copy of Axe Victim, and require song lyrics, then this CD edition satisfies that need, and the informative sleeve notes penned by Kevin Cann provide useful context.
The original edition of Axe Victim was deleted sometime around 1979/80, but was reissued as a budget release in 1983 by EMI as a double album, combined with the band's second album, Futurama.
The album is still in print in a number of guises. The 1991 CD edition is still available as a physical CD and download (on iTunes and Amazon), and the album without the bonus tracks can be obtained in the budget box set Original Album Series (2014) as well as on Disc 1 of the Futurist Manifesto box set (2012).
"As was hinted at in the song "Axe Victim", my guitar is a time machine, and the entire history of music is within reach of its glowing dials. Past, present and future are my natural territory and I feel free to dance joyfully and positively within it."
"Jets At Dawn" - "was actually written on the first of August, sometime back in the early '70s, probably 1972 or '73. Around 46 years ago. It was before the band made any recordings and definitely before we recorded it as the b-side of the Teenage Archangel single, which was independently released on my 'Smile' label, quite a bit before the EMI deal.
This was the first line-up of Be Bop Deluxe and we were driving home after a gig somewhere in the far north of England. The gig had a very late finish and by the time we'd got the equipment dismantled and packed away it was the early hours of the morning.
As we entered the Yorkshire area in our van, the dawn came up, a glorious day was promised as the sky was a beautiful deep blue and the rapidly rising sun tinted the few clouds that were there with gold. I was looking out of the van's window at this and noticed vapour trails of aeroplanes high above. It sparked a childhood memory of laying on my back in my parent's front garden, gazing up at the clouds and imagining WW2 Spitfire pilots flying their aircraft across the skies.
As a boy I'd briefly had a thing about becoming a pilot and used to read stories such as 'I Flew With Braddock'. I also had copies of 'Flying Review' and 'Flight' magazine and built many model aeroplane kits, which I proudly displayed in my bedroom.
This memory, coupled with seeing the vapour trails in that August dawn sky, got me thinking about making a song which might capture something of the magic of my childhood flying fantasies coupled with the feeling of wonder that filled me when I looked out of the band's van window.
The first line of the song, ('The calendar said first of August') came straight to me, right there and then. The rest of the lyrics, along with the song's chord structure, was written at home that same morning. It's a tale of aeroplanes returning home in peacetime, after a war, on a glorious morning with their womenfolk hanging out washing in the gardens below, and who are waving at the pilots as they sail overhead. A celebration, not so much of victory, but of a long awaited peace."
"Axe Victim established several musical and lyrical themes that became Nelson trademarks: blistering guitar runs, an obsession with his native Yorkshire, a deep interest in French film director and writer Jean Cocteau (one of his quotes was reprinted on the sleeve), and the analysing of his own status as a 'victim' of his art/axe. This last element was suggested by the cover painting by John Holmes, of a skull incorporated into the shape of a guitar body." (Record Collector, December 1997)
"The computer I'm typing this post on stands in the exact spot where the record player stood 40 years ago on which I first played Axe Victim (a loaned copy from a school friend). I remember being blown away by the power of the opening title track even though the deck was a cheap low quality device. Didn't get my own copy until a couple of years later but its still the Be Bop album I play most often.
Even if I was stone deaf I would get it out on a regular basis and just look at the sleeve smiling inanely. :)
Had a period (80s/90s) when I viewed it less than favourably, even with embarrassment :oops:. Now I love it for the exact same reasons I disliked it then.
I think I've come to the conclusion it's a 'keeper'.
Oh! and it's improved my air guitar playing no end."
"Winter of 1976 was when I bought it. I had seen the Sunburst Finish tour, with BBD supporting Kansas; the Earl Slick Band opened the show. First paycheck after the show, I bought Sunburst Finish. Next paycheck it was Modern Music and Axe Victim. When I saw the latter, I thought hey, these aren't the guys I saw in concert! I thought they all looked a little glam compared to the suits on Modern Music! Loved the music within though, a real rocker that one."
"In the summer of '76 my brother and I were looking through LPs in the branch of WH Smiths in Bolton when I came across this rather fetching cover - all black and skull and guitar as I remember.....pointing it out to him he was immediately interested, having heard it at some mate's place, and immediately bought it.....he was the older brother with the cash - I had the bus fare home and bugger all else as I remember.
Anyway, the said album became the soundtrack to that fantastic summer that went on and on and on......we played it constantly, and later made inroads into other Be Bop stuff and, of course, the rest is history as they say............
It's a kind of silly thing to be asked to select your favourite song of all time, but "Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape" comes very, very close...........my memories of playing as a kid in the semi-rural/semi-industrial landscape of Wigan/Blackrod/Rivington/Horwich of that time are so evoked in the lyrics and music of that song, that it sometimes makes me ache inside for a timeless flight of childhood that has gone forever........
I knew it was a great song when I was a kid.......it just got better with 'repeated listenings'."
Bill, out of the hundreds (thousands?) songs you have created in your career, "Jets at Dawn" remains my favorite song of all time. Axe Victim was the second BBD album I had purchased in 1978 (Drastic Plastic being the first) -- and I was so amazed at how different the two albums were, but equally awesome. "Jets" was, for some reason, the first song I played on the a album, and it quite simply blew me away. Being an amateur artist, I have created many "renditions" of that song in many forms of media (pen and ink, oils and even Photoshop). In my mind, there is a ragged soldier walking along a valley-like pasture with a dog in tow, looking up at a large and ancient church in front of him. Of course, there are clotheslines in the distance and a trio of jets making their way across the sky.
I remember being 16 years old and having a high fever and listening to that song over and over while I lay in bed blanket in hand. For some reason, the song touched me and has remained with me to my post middle aged days."
"I remember marvelling at how BN managed to be so creative in his guitar playing as the album is chock full of guitar solos each one a composition to fit the song as opposed to a solo. The version of "AIAYL" here has for me the most lyrical guitar solo I have ever heard, all contained in a wistful ballad evocative of a journey through my home county. But it was also the songs that I remember as well as to me it was all very different to anyone else I'd heard despite later reading of what journos put in as Bowie comparisons.
I guess like BBD and Bill's later work each record is self contained as it is a shot at the time and the style is not repeated for the next album or record - entirely frustrating for rock journos trying to categorise I guess? My fun categorisation of Axe Victim is that it's a baroque, gothic, romantic, free form, folk, orchestral pop and rock record."
"Well, I would travel all around South Yorkshire to see Be Bop Deluxe with my mates & would hear the songs from that album time & time again. I still have "Teenage Archangel"/"Jets at Dawn" single I bought at a gig in Bolton Upon Dearne. Being a wanna-be guitarist I've lots of influences but in them days it used to be Nelson, Kossoff & Hendrix.
Loved your music then Bill, love your music now."