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801 - Listen Now CD (album) cover




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3.46 | 50 ratings

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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!

Peter | 4/5 |


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