INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Prescot & Huyton Reporter NOVEMBER 11, 1977 - by Staff Writers
TUNE IN TO PHIL'S NEW SOUND
Sophisticated rock craftsmanship of the highest class - that's the latest album from former Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and his band 801, titled Listen Now (Island); it sees Phil and his impressive crew treading a distinctly Orwellian path in almost every sense. This excursion into 1984 comprises nine tracks, all but three featuring vocals from Manzanera's co-writers Bill and Ian McCormick backed by a fluid line-up of other musicians. The album also provides the first showcase for Lol Creme and Kevin Godley's fabled Gizmo, the amazing gadget which bows instead of plucks a guitar, outside their ambitious new Consequence triple-set.
Listen Now kicks-off with its title track, which gets the listener right into the apprehensive, unsettling atmosphere of the LP. The track is haunting and whispery, Simon Ainley's lead vocal rasping out the depressingly sinister lyrics ("Everywhere the sheep creeping to the slaughter / Cold weather coming people feel the fire / Living on Dead End Street with no desire"). Then comes the fine single Flight 19 with a classical construction and adventurous use by Manzanera of guitars. Eno throws in a few treatments here and there, and the Gizmo apparently pops its head up, though I've no idea where.
A note calmness is struck by Island. It's a fine instrumental with contributions from Simon Phillips (drums), Bill (bass), Eddie Jobson (Fender piano). Eno (synthesiser) and, of course, the man himself on guitars. Law And Order closes the side complete with a catchy Love Is The Drug-style rhythm. It also continues deathly theme with lines like: "Curfew starts now / Get off the streets and bolt the door."
The other side begins with Que? another Manzanera instrumental, closely followed by City Of Light. A perfectly produced slice of sheer studio intimidation the track stands as a highlight of the set. The man's icy guitar javelins boost the whole thing superbly. Initial Speed follows, and the instrumental beauty chatters along, weaving in and out of a synthesiser whirlwind with a fetching saxophone line from Mel Collins. Ballads Postcard Love and That Falling Feeling round things off with more depression and doom.
And the George Orwell legacy which inspired works like Bowie's Diamond Dogs has struck once more. This kind of thing is not all that new to Phil Manzanera though, as his work with Nico, John Cale and his pre-Roxy outfit Quiet Sun proves. But, after witnessing and savouring the magnificence of the recent 801 Live album, I must admit I was surprised by the contents and overall theme and concept of Listen Now though by no means disappointed. It's a creepy one, but I think you'll like it!