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Modern Music

Be Bop Deluxe

album - 10 September 1976

Modern Music - Cover
Modern Music back cover
Modern Music CD page 7
Modern Music - Postcard 1
Modern Music - Postcard 2
Modern Music - Postcard 3
Modern Music - Postcard 4


01)  Orphans Of Babylon

02)  Twilight Capers

03)  Kiss Of Light

04)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny

05)  The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow

06)  Bring Back The Spark

07)  Modern Music

08)  Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)

09)  Honeymoon On Mars

10)  Lost In The Neon World

11)  Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids

12)  Modern Music (Reprise)

13)  Forbidden Lovers

14)  Down On Terminal Street

15)  Make The Music Magic


Modern Music is the fourth album by Be Bop Deluxe.  It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London during June 1976, and maintained the band's profile in the UK while adding to their international reputation in North America.  Modern Music was the first Be Bop Deluxe album to feature an identical line up, in the form of Bill Nelson, Simon Fox, Charlie Tumahai and Andy Clarke.  By now the band was establishing itself on the North American touring circuit, without forgetting about their home support.  To have delivered two successful albums in one calendar year while undergoing a gruelling touring schedule is therefore all the more impressive.     

The album appeared on vinyl and cassette, and was promoted by the release of the single Kiss of Light, which failed to repeat the success of their previous release.  Vinyl copies were released in a single sleeve, and the record was housed in an inner sleeve bearing lyrics to all songs.

For North American radio use, Modern Music was promoted by a special "Banded for Air Play" edition, which featured a modified track listing.  When reissued on CD in 1990, EMI elected to enhance the album by adding 6 bonus tracks, although the tracks they included were more relevant to other Be Bop Deluxe albums, instead of the the Modern Music sessions.  If you no longer kept your vinyl copy, and require song lyrics, then this CD edition satisfies that need, and the informative sleeve notes penned by Kevin Cann provide useful context.


In April 2017 Cherry Red and Esoteric Recordings, who, since 2011, have done so much to raise the profile of Bill Nelson's solo recordings from the period 1980 to 2002, acquired the rights to release the Be Bop Deluxe and Red Noise material issued between 1973 and 1979.  While this resulted in the deletion of existing physical editions, Cherry Red kept Modern Music on catalogue from 1 June 2017 via the usual download sites such as Amazon and iTunes while an expanded edition was prepared for a 2019 physical release.


On 6 December 2019 Modern Music became the third Be Bop Deluxe album to be issued as a Deluxe Edition comprising:

  • a freshly remastered version of the original album.

  • a 2019 remix of the full album.

  • 2 unreleased studio recordings.

  • previously released live 'BBC In Concert' recorded for Radio.

  • a bonus CD of a previously unreleased "official bootleg" of a performance at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago in March 1976 recorded for FM Radio.

  • the original album presented in a 5.1 mix and the previously released OGWT appearance from November 1976.


The album is presented in a triple fold out digi-pack and contains a 68 page booklet with an essay penned by Bill Nelson, previously unseen photographs from the period, postcards and a replica poster.   

A 2CD edition of the album is also being released at the same time as the Deluxe Edition featuring Discs 1 and 2 which will also replace the standard download edition.  


The full track listing for the Deluxe Edition is:


Disc 1:

01)  Orphans Of Babylon

02)  Twilight Capers

03)  Kiss Of Light

04)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny

05)  The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow

06)  Bring Back The Spark

07)  Modern Music

08)  Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)

09)  Honeymoon On Mars

10)  Lost In The Neon World

11)  Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids

12)  Modern Music (Reprise)

13)  Forbidden Lovers

14)  Down On Terminal Street

15)  Make The Music Magic

Bonus Track

16)  Shine (B-Side Of Single)


Disc 2:

01)  Orphans Of Babylon (New Stereo Mix)

02)  Twilight Capers (New Stereo Mix)

03)  Kiss Of Light (New Stereo Mix)

04)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny (New Stereo Mix)

05)  The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (New Stereo Mix)

06)  Bring Back The Spark (New Stereo Mix)

07)  Modern Music (New Stereo Mix)

08)  Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (New Stereo Mix)

09)  Honeymoon On Mars (New Stereo Mix)

10)  Lost In The Neon World (New Stereo Mix)

11)  Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (New Stereo Mix)

12)  Modern Music (Reprise) (New Stereo Mix)

13)  Forbidden Lovers (New Stereo Mix)

14)  Down On Terminal Street (New Stereo Mix)

15)  Make The Music Magic (New Stereo Mix)

Bonus Tracks

16)  Shine (New Stereo Mix)

17)  Forbidden Lovers (First Version)

18)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny (First Version)  


Disc 3:

01)  Maid In Heaven (BBC In Concert 1976)

02)  Bring Back The Spark (BBC In Concert 1976)

03)  Kiss Of Light (BBC In Concert 1976)

04)  Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape (BBC In Concert 1976)

05)  Fair Exchange (BBC In Concert 1976)

06)  Ships In The Night (BBC In Concert 1976)

07)  Twilight Capers (BBC In Concert 1976)

08)  Modern Music (BBC In Concert 1976)

i. Modern Music

ii. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)

iii. Honeymoon On Mars

iv. Lost In The Neon World

v. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids

vi. Modern Music (Reprise)

09)  Blazing Apostles (BBC In Concert 1976)


Disc 4:

01)  Fair Exchange (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

02)  Stage Whispers (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

03)  Life In The Air Age (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

04)  Sister Seagull (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

05)  Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

06)  Maid In Heaven (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

07)  Ships In The Night (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

08)  Bill's Blues (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

09)  Blazing Apostles (Live 1976 – Previously Unreleased)

Disc 5:

01)  Orphans Of Babylon (5.1 Mix)

02)  Twilight Capers (5.1 Mix)

03)  Kiss Of Light (5.1 Mix)

04)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny (5.1 Mix)

05)  The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (5.1 Mix)

06)  Bring Back The Spark (5.1 Mix)

07)  Modern Music (5.1 Mix)

08)  Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (5.1 Mix)

09)  Honeymoon On Mars (5.1 Mix)

10)  Lost In The Neon World (5.1 Mix)

11)  Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (5.1 Mix)

12)  Modern Music (Reprise) (5.1 Mix)

13)  Forbidden Lovers (5.1 Mix)

14)  Down On Terminal Street (5.1 Mix)

15)  Make The Music Magic (5.1 Mix)

Bonus Tracks

16)  Shine (5.1 Mix)

17)  Forbidden Lovers (First Version) (5.1 Mix)

18)  The Bird Charmer's Destiny (First Version) (5.1 Mix)

19)  Forbidden Lovers (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test - November 1976)

20)  Down On Terminal Street (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test - November 1976)



The album can be found in a number of guises.  The 1990 CD edition was released as a physical CD, but strangely not as a download in its own right.  The album without the bonus tracks was included in the budget box set Original Album Series (2014), as well as on Disc 3 of the Futurist Manifesto box set (2012).    

Extra songs on the 1990 CD:
16)  Futurist Manifesto
Quest For The Harvest Of The Stars

18)  Autosexual

All 3 are Drastic Plastic outtakes and were all previously on The Best Of and the Rest Of.  "Futurist Manifesto" was the b-side to the Japan single, and was therefore on Singles As and Bs.


The deluxe box set and the 2-CD set is available for purchase in the Dreamsville Store. 

Joy Through Amplification, Fantastic Guitars, New Northern Dream, Fancy Planets, Special Metal,

Romance of Sustain, Orpheus in Ultraland, Modern Moods for Mighty Atoms, Satellite Songs,

The Alchemical Adventures of Sailor Bill, Golden Melodies of Tomorrow, Practically Wired


"Modern Music came directly from my experiences on the American tour.  I'd been exposed to American culture for years, through movies and television and music so I imagined that when I got there it would be something very familiar.  But it was so foreign that it seemed almost like being on another planet." (from an interview in Guitarist Magazine, 1996)

"The entire "Modern Music Suite" for instance, is about my experience of touring the USA but has sequences that seem surreal and dream-like."

"I've used voice samples for more than 30 years...the intro to Be Bop Deluxe's "Modern Music Suite" being an early example. I like the way a voice sample can add an enigmatic spin to an instrumental."

"The voice/radio collage at the start of the "Modern Music Suite" was a combination of random radio dial spinning and some deliberately chosen recordings."

"You'll notice, if you have heard all the band's albums, that, after Sunburst Finish, the music becomes slightly less guitar focused and moves into synthy textures with the guitar becoming sort of 'orchestrated' or integrated into the songs, rather than constant up-front solo improvisations.  The emphasis switches to songwriting on Modern Music and to more surreal/sci-fi atmospheres on Drastic Plastic before flipping over into the near-future dystopian moods of Red Noise.  But those first three albums were intended to bring the guitar playing thing to the fore."

Commenting on the Modern Music watch and badge from the cover:
"I thought up the idea and gave a written description/drawing of the style of the items.  They were actually made by the same BBC props department who provided gadgets for the 'Doctor Who' tv series at that time."


Review on Prog Rock Music Talk

Review on JP's Music Blog

Review on ProgNaut

Review on Louder Than War


Review on Spill Magazine


Review on Goldmine Magazine


Review on At The Barrier


Review on Exclusive Magazine


Review on Sea Of Tranquility


Review on LMNOP

Review on Part-Time Audiophile

Review by Michael Doherty

Review on Music Street Journal

Review by Dmitry M. Epstein

Review on Musoscribe




"I go back to that afternoon in the 70's when listening to Modern Music for the first time when an emotion washed over me that the music I was hearing was the music of the future, unlike anything else at the time.  Modern Music was a revelation for me at that point, it affected me deeply and I never forgot that day."


"Modern Music is my favourite Be Bop album - I've always seen it as a concept album full of many rich layers, twists and turns and real musical cohesion."


"Modern Music is the album where I really came on board, as a Be-Bop Deluxe fan.  The music is still as fresh today, as it was all those years ago.  It's a great album packed full of well crafted songs and tight melodies, whilst still pushing Bill's musical boundaries - even though he was constantly touring America at the time, if I remember right."


"I've been a fan of Be Bop Deluxe (and eventually Bill Nelson) since the mid-70's when a friend of mine bought a copy of Modern Music because Ace Frehley mentioned Bill as one of his favourite guitarists in an interview in Circus Magazine."

Mick Winsford:

"Modern Music is for me, my favourite BBD album.  There's just something really special about this album, from the opening acoustic riff of "Orphans of Babylon" to the the simple beauty of "Make the Music Magic".  This was the second BBD album I heard (SF being the first one) and that image I have of me traipsing up stairs on Xmas night with my copy of MM in my hands and putting it on the stereo for the first play has never left me.  I loved it from the first play and haven't fallen out of love with it since."

Steve Zodiac:

"Like many here I've been a listener of Bill's music since the seventies.  I have clear memories of playing my Modern Music LP over and over as a teenager; it must have been Christmas '76 when I asked mum & dad to buy it for me as a present and I remember being absolutely bowled over by it.  I had already seen BBD live at the Liverpool Empire 23 Jan 1976; I think that may well have been the first gig I ever went to.  I saw them again Feb 1978 for the Drastic Plastic Tour and saw Red Noise in March 1979."


"Sunburst Finish, purchased at Korvette's in Matteson, IL, right after seeing BBD for the first time.  Within a month, I returned and bought Futurama and Axe Victim.  After seeing BBD about 8 months later, I returned and bought Modern Music (first time I ever saw a rock & roll band in business suits!!)."


"Bill, I am, and believe all of us here are enjoying the journey with you.  Ever since running home from school to hear Scott Muni of WNEW, New York City play the whole side two of Modern Music!"

Tourist In Wonderland:

"I met Charlie backstage during the Modern Music tour after a show and he was indeed a very nice person. He greeted us warmly and made us feel very welcome...he was very open and friendly and yes, he did have that lovely warm smile on his face...from my experience, he was a true fact I still have a tour program that Charlie and the rest of Be Bop signed, something I will never part with.  Simon and Andy were equally friendly and it was a great atmosphere after a fabulous live performance...Bill had slipped off early via the back exit on this occasion, I think Jan waiting in a rather nice Jaguar XJS in the rear car park, if memory serves accurately?...wonderful memories..."


"Modern Music will always hold special memories for me - remember the Newcastle City Hall gig Garry - mirror ball, videos in the background - absolutely wonderful - My son Mark (15 years of age) has taken all of my Be-Bop CDs into his room - (I haven't heard the Kaiser Chiefs or Franz Ferdinand for weeks!!)  He absolutely adores Modern Music and its lovely to hear "Terminal Street" and "Orphans of Babylon" blasting from his music system - He asked me to get him a Be- Bop Deluxe badge today.  He saw Bill and the Lost Satellites twice last year and said they were awesome - a new generation Nelsonian."

Zen Archer:

"If I were the sort to make those comparisons, I'd say Modern Music was Bill's Abbey Road, but I'm not, so you didn't hear that from me."

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