INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Nottingham Evening Post NOVEMBER 25, 1977 - by Staff Writers
VICTIM TIME LEAP BY MANZANERA
The all-pervading think-speak dictatorship of George Orwell's 1984 has inspired many a rock musician over the years from Hugh Hopper's explicit 1984 to David Bowie's more oblique Diamond Dogs venture. Phil Manzanera's nightmare Listen Now (Polydor) makes the same time-jump to paint a more perceptively chilling and creepily vivid portrait than most before him, thanks to the underplayed power of the lyrics, dreamily hypnotic vocal delivery of Simon Ainley and the clean limbed dynamism of Manzanera's arrangement coupled with his own stylish guitar playing.
The bruisy-faced, whispering paranoiacs on the cover, trapped between heavy chains and the austere intimidating city sky-scape, pitch the mood perfectly for the ex-Roxy Music guitarist and the explorations of 801. City Of Light subtitled 42nd Street Blues indicates the horrors of no escaping into the dark anonymous corners - the oppressive swirl-echo vocals, deep-jabbing piano and menacing guitar riffs leaving you two feet tall. But Flight 19 is a well-crafted piece of quality rock with the same vivacity as 10cc's seminal Sheet Music set. In fact, Kevin Godley turns up here on chorus lines and Lol Creme cranks up the lush effects of their gizmo gadgetry.
The opener Listen Now steals a stealthy hook and sets the uncomfortable tenor of claustrophobic futurism while Mel Collins injects incursive sax and big band effects. Law And Order, about media-manipulation, is wrapped around a similarly purposeful Bill MacCormick-Dave Mattacks bass-drums assemblage. And two black-lined ballads of ghostly despair Postcard Love and That Falling Feeling come between you and wipe-out, but only just. The set also includes three instrumentals: Island with Manzanera's guitars set in relaxed counterpoint to Brian Eno's synth pastel-wash; Que? a jazzy tunnel of energy and Initial Speed a synth cascade by Francis Monkman brushed against the guitarist's response and Collins' soprano sax slide.