Phil Manzanera with 801 – in session for Alan Freeman – Quadrophonic Matrix Broadcast – November 22, 1977 – BBC Radio 1 –
Phil Manzanera to kick off the week. A session produced by Tony Wilson for Alan Freeman’s Matrix H broadcast at BBC Radio 1 on November 22, 1977.
Certainly hands-down one of the desert island guitarists whose work has been synonymous with just about every major force in Rock and Progressive music since he was first involved with Roxy Music in the early 1970s. It is a stunning and rich legacy and one that continues.
As a writer, producer and solo artist, Phil Manzanera has worked with many of the luminaries of modern music, such as Steve Winwood, David Gilmour, John Cale, Godley & Creme, Nico and John Wetton. He has co-written material with many artists, including Brian Eno, Tim Finn, Robert Wyatt and Gilmour. Manzanera co-wrote Pink Floyd’s single “One Slip” from their 1987 A Momentary Lapse of Reason album.
Manzanera’s first solo album Diamond Head (1975) featured an all-star line-up of session contributors, including most of the former and current members of Roxy Music, except Bryan Ferry. Brian Eno co-wrote and sang on two tracks (“Big Day” and “Miss Shapiro”), Paul Thompson, Eddie Jobson and Andy Mackay all contributed, and Roxy’s occasional tour bassist John Wetton (ex Family, and then a member of King Crimson) played bass and duetted on vocals (with Doreen Chanter on “Same Time Next Week”). Robert Wyatt co-wrote and sang (in Spanish) on “Frontera”, and the members of Manzanera’s pre-Roxy group Quiet Sun featured on the instrumental tracks. Concurrent with the recording of Diamond Head, Manzanera reunited Quiet Sun (who had not been able to make any professional recordings) and used the studio time to quickly record a full LP of Quiet Sun material, released by EG Records under the title Mainstream.
Reworked versions of two tracks from Mainstream featured on Manzanera’s next major collaboration, the critically acclaimed concert recording 801 Live, which was recorded at a 1976 London show performed by the “special occasion” band 801. The group comprised Manzanera, with Eno on vocals, synth and treatments, Quiet Sun bassist Bill MacCormick, Curved Air keyboardist Francis Monkman, 19-year-old drumming prodigy Simon Phillips, and slide guitarist Lloyd Watson, who had previously performed as a solo support act for Roxy Music. The LP featured an eclectic mix of Manzanera, Quiet Sun and Eno originals, alongside distinctive cover versions of two well-known tracks, The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”. The album also broke new ground in live concert recording, being one of the first live LPs to use the “direct injection” (DI) method of recording, in which the signals from the various electric instruments were fed directly into the recording console, enabling a dramatic improvement in fidelity over the earlier method of placing microphones near the various instrument amplifiers.
The success of the live album led to the creation of a more permanent incarnation of 801, without Lloyd Watson. Manzanera’s old schoolmate Simon Ainley (who was later a member of Random Hold with Bill McCormick) took over from Eno as lead vocalist, who only provided treatments and textures. Francis Monkman, Bill and Ian McCormick and Simon Phillips became part of an all-star session group that also included Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner of Split Enz (who had by then relocated to the UK), former 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, saxophonist Mel Collins, Roxy Music’s Eddie Jobson and drummer Dave Mattacks. The ‘new’ 801 recorded the studio album Listen Now, was released in November 1976, although according to Ainley the initial recordings had begun in December 1975, well before the original concert line-up of 801 was put together. The studio LP was not a commercial success and the group disbanded after a short UK tour. A live performance at Manchester University in Nov. 1977, with Ainley on vocals and guitar, and appearances by special guests Andy Mackay, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, was recorded on 24-track tape, but the recording remained unreleased until 1997.
For another taste of that halcyon period, put this one speakers if you can and crank it up. It was initially broadcast in Quad but sounds equally impressive in just plain stereo.