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801 - 801 Live CD (album) cover

801 LIVE

801

 

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4.03 | 80 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars I am not normally a fan of live albums, nor am I much of a Phil Manzanera fan, but this release did happen to capture some one-of-a-kind magic and we in prog world are so much the luckier for it! A true "all-star band" with the likes of Phil Manzanera on guitar, Brian Eno singing, playing keyboards, synthesiser, and guitar, while also running tapes, Lloyd Watson on slide guitar and background vocals, Francis Monkman on Fender Rhodes and clavinet, Bill MacCormick on bass and background vocals, and Simon Phillips on drums and "rhythm box." A lineup like that alone deserves some attention, but then to produce the quality of recorded songs--from a live format!--is something short of miraculous! The opening free-form guitar instrumental lets the listener know who's in charge here (Phil) but when it bleeds into their version of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" ("T.N.K."), one cannot help but be surprised and impressed. In fact, this is still my favorite version of the song. The band is so tight, with Eno's sublime vocals and the keyboard flourishes constant and textural. Awesome. "East of Asteroid" is a heavier, jazzier instrumental with Phil on display but all in support playing with full vim. (And vigor). Simon and bill's work, in particular, in the bridges impress me the most. As East abruptly stops the band bleeds directly into the slower, synth-based "Rongwrong" with amazing sensitivity and control. It's just amazing that an ad hoc band can come together with this kind of timing. Eno's singing here sounds as if it comes straight off of his "Before and After Science"--though there are couple of pitch issues here, but, then, it's a live performance: mistakes happen. Still, a good song. "Sombre Reptiles" is again a bleed over from the previous song with programmed drum and tape samples carrying the song while percussionists play over the top and then the JAPAN-like guitar-driven melody takes over as the driver. Bass, drum, and clavinet play here stand out on this three minute long Latin groove. Side Two starts with a funked up version of Eno's classic "Baby's on Fire." Here we get to hear Manzanera playing some decent lead--alternating with Lloyd Watson's slide guitar--taking on the Fripp and Paul Rudolph parts from the original. Great energy! Next the album transitions into Manzanera's "Diamond Head" via Francis Monkman's clavinet and Rhodes play. Though Phil is a favorite on many prog lovers' top guitar lists, I've never been able to join the club, and the flaws on this album--even here, on his own song--are perfect illustrations as to why. His timing while using the effects he uses (here, very STEVE HILLAGE-like) is often way off. Nice melodies, I admit, but not a great guitarist, IMO. Still, a nice song, though rather simple and flat in structure and dynamics. "Miss Shapiro" is a straight on rocker (complete with prominent cowbell!) with a kind of Skynyrd "What's that Smell" sound and feel to it. While it works, based on the nice lead guitar parts, it's the awesome Eno vocal that makes this one a keeper. Then it transitions directly into the band's version of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me"--a stripped down, multi-voiced affair that has a different, almost tongue-in-cheek, punk-rock RAMONES-like feel to it. The finale is called "Third Uncle" and it starts out sounding like a Roger Waters or Pink Fairies affair, rocking with increasing speed and abandon, it turns into a fun jam with all band members treating it as if it's their In retrospect, it's Side One of this vinyl album that I always gravitated to with Side Two receiving infrequent visits. But, that Side One is one heck of a side! And the second side, albeit more straightforward rock, is still of amazing caliber and creativity. Five stars; a masterpiece of live prog and one of the few great, inventive, and refreshing live all-star jams I've ever encountered.
BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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