Tomorrow Never Knows

In 1976, ex-members of Roxy Music Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera, the latter also formerly of Quiet Sun along with Bill MacCormick, plus Lloyd Watson, Simon Phillips and Francis Monkman formed a side project they called 801. The collaboration took its name from a verse in the Eno song, “The True Wheel” (a fabulous selection from his 1974 record, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy). 

The 1980 Roxy Music song, “Oh Yeah” (post-Eno, but still including Manzanera) is featured in this post.

The band 801 played three concerts in England and released the somewhat unknown record, 801 Live, which was recorded on September 3, 1976 in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. For the technological and production standards of that time, it is an excellent example of a high-quality live recording. The album features energetic renditions of compositions by Eno and Manzanera (individual and collaborative), The Kinks, Quiet Sun, and John Lennon/Paul McCartney. 

801’s musicians, some of whom are among my favourites, others I know almost nothing of, are incredibly talented and the band is so tight as if they played as a unit for years. One thing that truly amazes me is young Simon Phillips’s lightning-quick foot-pedal work on some of the songs, but there are so many other instrumental features I could share. Just buy the album; you won’t be sorry!

Photo of the back cover of a long-play record.
Back cover of 801 Live, showing the project personnel and live set list. Photo by Steve West.

The group was active from 1976-77, but Wikipedia indicates they reactivated this year. I’ve yet to see any evidence of activity or a recording but will keep watching, as one can’t believe everything one reads. But one can — and should — always hope.

In 2011, 801 Live was released as a double album in the iTunes Store and included the live tracks, plus a mirror image album of studio-produced (and apparently, “rehearsal”) versions. I can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, the number of people I’ve known who have heard of 801. The live version of “Lagrima,” the opening track of the album, starts with Eno and Manzanera’s synthesizer and guitar magic. A steam train whistle joins along, adding that element of the railway which I love so much, as you’ll remember from some past posts, like this one.

Skimming one of my playlists today, I found “T.N.K.,” as the band listed the track on 801 Live. I love the album and song, and wanted to share this piece with you today.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song (not an official version):

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