The original version of Futurama was a little weak on songwriting content, though long on virtuoso music passages. This expanded reissue is a partial improvement, though not because it addresses those problems; rather, it's just got more of something different, in this case the more commercial (and quite beautiful) single version of "Between the Worlds," plus a scintillating live version of "Maid in Heaven," and the achingly lyrical "Speed of the Wind" – the latter shows off the more reflective side of this band and progressive rock in general, of a piece with King Crimson's "Book of Saturday," and emphasizing their gentler approach to singing and playing. The sound throughout is excellent, and the annotation is reasonably thorough as well.
This release includes all five of Be Bop Deluxe's studio albums, with additional bonus tracks, plus an additional disc of previously unreleased home demos, rough studio mixes and live recordings. The recordings have all been freshly remastered and the project over-seen by Bill Nelson. All bonus tracks added to the 1990 CD releases have been remastered and added to this release too, except for the bonus live tracks on the 'Axe Victim' release. This remaster is an improvement upon the 1990 releases, and has thankfully avoided being 'brick-walled'. I would suggest this is the last word on digital 16-bit releases of these studio albums.
As phenomenally popular as Earth, Wind & Fire was from the mid-'70s to the early '80s, it's easy to forget that the band was hardly an overnight success. With Head to the Sky – EWF's fourth album overall, second with Philip Bailey, and second for Columbia – Maurice White's very spiritual and ambitious brand of soul and funk was starting to pay off commercially. The Latin-influenced "Evil" became the soulsters' biggest hit up to that point, and material ranging from the hauntingly pretty title song (which boasts one of Bailey's finest performances ever) to the jazz fusion gem "Zanzibar" is just as rewarding. The lineup White unveiled with Last Days and Time was working out beautifully; Bailey was clearly proving to be a major asset. Also worth noting is the presence of singer Jessica Cleaves, who left after this album and, several years later, resurfaced in George Clinton's eccentric female group the Brides of Funkenstein.