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LISTEN NOW

801

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4 stars This is more of a Phil Manzanera solo album than an extention of the 801 Live recordings. Even then it is an excellent album of consistent progressive rock. As Manzanera did not vocalize in his albums until recently, much of the tone is set by Simon Ainley, Kevin Godley & Lol Creme with low-key vocals. Even then the musicianship still comes through in the end.
Report this review (#32294)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, I've been waiting patiently for Phil Manzanera to be added to the Archives, and I guess this is as close as he's going to come. Other than a couple of slick, poppy throwaways (Flight 19 & Law and Order), this is a solid effort. His first album "Diamond Head" is a bit more progressive, but "Listen Now" and his third album "K-Scope" are quite listenable. All three albums have some great guests, and the production, composition and performances are first-rate.

Manzanera doesn't get the same kind of adulation that some guitarists who came out of prog bands have, but he deserves it. He's not as flashy, but he's versatile and adept at getting a variety of sounds out of his guitars. I stopped following him after the third album, but I hear his new album is a return of sorts to the early days of his solo career.

Report this review (#32295)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars LISTEN NOW, a 1977 release, finds Roxy Music guitarist extraordinaire Phil Manzanera joined by an extensive all-star cast to produce a recording that has long held a position of esteem in my prog collection. With strong songs that have stood the test of time, and music royalty as diverse and accomplished as singer Simon Ainley, bassist/vocalist Bill MacCormick, drummers Dave Mattacks and Simon Phillips, keyboardists Eno, Rhett Davies and Eddie Jobson, sax man Mel Collins, as well as backing vocalists Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Tim Finn on board, it is little wonder that the resulting work was an unqualified success.

The opening title track is a moody song underpinned by a driving, solid bass line, with lyrics that portray a paranoid, totalitarian near-future where anyone could be an enemy, or a spy for the state. Next up, "Flight 19" (the title refers to a squadron of five American torpedo bombers that mysteriously disappeared in the vicinity of the "Bermuda triangle" just after WWII) is an infectious, poppier piece that deals with loneliness and despair, in an admirable exercise in musical and lyrical juxtaposition. "Islands" is a lovely instrumental with a heroic guitar theme from Manzanera, while "Law and Order" is a hard-hitting number that revisits the totalitarian scenario of civil liberties curtailed in the name of "security." Sound familiar? "Que?" is a short, sharp (very much prog) instrumental, which segues into the standout "City of Light," which treats with danger and the loss of individuality in the bowels of a spirit-crushing city -- gloomy, yes, but very good! "Initial Speed" is a diverse instrumental that finds Phillips convincingly demonstrating mastery of his kit, while "Postcard Love" is a sadly beautiful song of a love that is whole-heartedly given, but not returned. (Some people don't really mean "love" when they sign their cards -- it's "just a friendly touch.") Terrific stuff! Finally, "That Falling Feeling" depicts the once glamorous and popular star who finds himself sinking into obscurity and depression: not a cheery end for the album, but a powerful one nonetheless.

LISTEN NOW was perhaps Manzanera's most memorable solo work overall. While its related themes can be disquieting, the music and studio craftsmanship to be found here are strictly top-shelf, and make this fine disc an "excellent addition to any prog music collection." Unreservedly recommended!

Report this review (#32297)
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a solo album by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera. I don't know whether it is prog in every aspect of the word, but the musicians that helped him certainly are. Among them Kevin Godley and Lol Creme of 10CC, and that makes this album easy to describe it accurately: this is what you get when you mix Roxy Music and 10CC! This cd is always a part of the collection I take with me when I go on holiday.
Report this review (#39748)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2,5 stars max!!

801 is sort of the continuation of Quiet Sun (as the continnuing collab between Manzanera and MacCormick) but this album does not reach the knee level of QS's Mainstream. A star- studded guest list including 10CC members , Mel Collins , Eno , Monkman does not add much since their contributions are not determining.

We are dealing with a sort poppish prog very typical of those years (second half of the 70's) somewhere between Steely Dan and early Alan Parsons Project. As you see, nothing groundbreaking , pleasant enough for background music , but maddeningly shallow for deep investigations. The four tracks on side 1 are your average run-of-the-mill rock but as opposed to Quiet Sun , a real lack of energy is evident mostly due to the guitars (or lack of it, although still present , Manzanera is subdued , his superb fuzzy guitar in QS'S Mainstream being completely gone), and very conventional songwriting. Most of thhe tracks where Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention and 80's Jethro Tull ) drums are rather irritating for I always disliked his drumming. Thankfully , Simon Phillips handles half the tracks and his feeling is so much classier , a lot more feeling and inventiveness being the difference.

Things get a much better start on side 2 with the small Que? instrumental linked to a lenghty City of Light , mostly instrumental and followed by the best track of the album Initial Speed. Unfortunately , the last two tracks return to the first side calibre, giving you a non-satisfied hunger feeling.

Not the best album to pick if you want to discover MacCormick groovy bass lines of Manzanera's superb and inventive guitars.

Report this review (#42205)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I am a bit surprised that Listen Now haven't yet received a review. A qick look to the list of musicians involved in the project should appeal to some. Mel Collins of KC fame, and Simon Phillips for ones, have a grat input in the record. As for alle the records in which Roxy music's alumnis are part of, this one is on the pop side of prog music but intelligent and refined arrangements always make it for good. Of mention are the jazzy opening with his great vocals harmonies, the punchy instrumental Initial Speed and the overall pleasant intelligent pop'n prog facture which made it a pleasant listen. To bad the only cd version i've heard was clearly taken from a vinyl recording with scratches and hisses!
Report this review (#115060)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I'm not certain what differentiates this from a Phil Manzanera solo album. Sure, Bill MacCormick, Simon Phillips, Brian Eno and Francis Monkman are all here from the famous 801 Live album, that recording was much more of a band effort. On this album every song was written by Manzanera along with Bill and/or Ian MacCormick. Plus, this album also features many of the other artists who graced Manzanera's other albums of the time.

So much for the rant. Like K-Scope, this is a precisely produced, and wonderfully written work of prog related music. Initial Speed, an instrumental piece, is the most like pure prog. Almost jazz rock fusion, this song has a fast, energetic theme, that propels the listener along.

Lyrically, the album looks at politics and love with the same humor that Manzanera has shown on his other albums of the time. And even now, after more than thirty years, it still resonates.

Report this review (#291244)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Smooth and elegant

801 is a project formed by ex Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzarena , he released a single album under this name in 1977 named Listen now. To tell the truth I 've realy enjoy this album a lot, great release, smooth and elegant compositions, even for some many listners are kinda pop in aproach. To me is art rock with progressive rock elements, that for sure, very fine pieces, not to mention that on this album are top notch musicians who needs no introtuction, Simon Phillips, Edie Jobson, Mel Collins (Caravan, Camel), Bill MacCormick (Quiet Sun), Kevin Godley (from later Godley & Creme), Brian Eno, etc. The music is very well arranged, great playing, intriguing lyrics, with a jazzy atmosphere sometimes, and other times more art pop, but always shining each musician. I like a lot the title track Listen now, solid playing, fine passages, another worthing and excellent track is the instrumental Islands, beautiful, great guitar by Manzarena over some fantastic contribution to the rest of the musicians, brilliant. The whole album is to me great, not a weak moment and I've enjoyed to the max this release. Warm compositions, mostley mid tempo, but with a good doze of great musicianship and inventive passges. Another thing worth mentioning is the cover art, made by Philip Castle based on an idea of I. Mac Cormick, one of my fav btw, and goes hand in hand with the music. I don't quite understand this low rating, realy, not a masterpice of prog rock, but for sure a very worthy album, and is quite unknown to many. 4 stars easy, one of the most pleasent albums I've heared from late '70's.

Report this review (#300651)
Posted Monday, September 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars 801 could pass for a weak ALAN PARSONS PROJECT album. While a few of the tracks have interesting motifs - "Listen Now" and "City of Lights" among them, they overstay their welcome particularly with respect to the monotonous funky rhythms. The cast is not at fault, but the compositions are weak, the mood is lackadaisical, and the arrangements stall on one or two simplistic ideas. The main exception is the jazzy "Initial Speed" instrumental, which flows in the manner of some of the better tracks on Camel's "Rain Dances", and playfully tosses in contributions from the renowned supporting artists. I admit to a weakness for "Law and Order", which is more poppy but with a dash of dystopian paranoia, Ultimately, "Listen Now" doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant consideration except for fans of Manzanera and/or one or more of the session artists, which, on second look, cover just about everyone here. 2.5 stars rounded down
Report this review (#1107612)
Posted Sunday, January 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first 801 proper studio album "Listen Now" boasts a magnificent set of musicians whose skills complement each other beautifully. The winning title track features gorgeous winds and faux big band scoring at the end, courtesy of prog veteran Mel Collins. Godley and Creme from 10cc give the vocals an operatic sheen that is similar to Alan Parsons Project and Camel circa "Moonmadness". In places, the vocal melodies mixed with the instrumentation bring to mind Steely Dan and the Moody Blues or even some of Steve Howe's early solo work. I prefer these stylings over all of those examples, however.

Jobson, Wetton, and Monkman perform admirably when called upon, Manzanera's cutting guitar lines don't disappoint and Eno treats and washes everything in his trademark style. Despite a few weak moments, "Listen Now" is ripe for discovery for rock fans and progressive fans who like crossover as one of their main ingredients.

Report this review (#1648757)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2016 | Review Permalink

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