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Origin England
Genres Experimental rock, Art rock
Years active 1976 - 1977
Labels Expression, Polydor
Associated acts Quiet Sun
Phil Manzanera
Brian Eno
Bill MacCormick
Francis Monkman
Simon Phillips
Lloyd Watson

801 were an English experimental rock band that were originally formed in 1976 for three live concerts by



In 1976, while Roxy Music had temporarily disbanded, 801 (also referred to as THE 801) got together as a temporary project and began rehearsing at Island Studios, Hammersmith, about three weeks before their first gig. The name of the band was taken from the Eno song "The True Wheel", which appears on his 1974 solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). The refrain of the song -- "We are the 801, we are the central shaft" -- reportedly came to him in a dream (although it has also been noted that "Eight Nought One" acrostically spells his name).

801 performed three critically highly acclaimed concerts: in Norfolk, at the Reading Festival and the final concert on 3 September at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. This last concert was recorded live and released as the album 801 Live. The music consisted of more or less mutated selections from albums by Manzanera, Eno, and Quiet Sun, plus a full-scale rearrangement of Lennon-McCartney's "Tomorrow Never Knows" and an off-the-wall excursion into The Kinks' 1964 hit "You Really Got Me".

Released at the height of the punk rock revolution in the UK, the LP was not a major commercial success, but it sold well throughout the world, particularly because it gained rave reviews from critics, both for the superb performances by the musicians and for its groundbreaking sound quality.

Although live albums were by then becoming increasingly sophisticated in their production -- thanks to the advent of portable multi-track recorders and mobile studios -- most were hampered by relatively poor sound quality. Up until this time, the standard procedure for both front-of-house mixing and live recording was capture the sound of amplified instruments such as guitars by placing microphones in front of the amplifiers. Although many superb performances were captured, the results were still markedly inferior to studio recordings and live recordings often suffered from a range of problems such as distortion, noise, sound "leakage" between instruments, poor separation and intrusive audience sounds.

801 Live set new standards for live recordings because it was one of the first live LPs in which all outputs from the vocal microphones, guitar amps and others instruments (except the drums) were fed directly to the mobile studio mixing desk, rather than being recorded via microphones and/or signals fed out the front-of-house PA mixer. This so-called "Direct Injection" (DI) method had been used for years in the studio but this was one of the first instances of the method being successfully used to record a live album.

801 Live became a significant cult success in many countries, notably in Australia, where it was heavily promoted by the ABC's new 24-hour rock station Double Jay (2JJ), which had opened in January 1975. Although based in Sydney, the station could be heard widely around New South Wales and was relayed nationally after midnight via the ABC's national AM network. It is notable that 801 Live received virtually no commercial radio airplay, it had no music video to promote it, and it was originally not even locally released in Australia. Despite this, the album became the highest-selling import album of the year in Australia in 1976 and demand for it as an import item eventually forced the Australian distributors to release it locally. Australian band Icehouse played 801 songs as well as other Eno covers.

In 1977, hoping to capitalise on the success of 801 Live, the band recorded and released Listen Now, a studio album with additional collaborating musicians including Tim Finn of Split Enz, but without Lloyd Watson.

In late 1977, 801 reformed as another live group around Manzanera and MacCormick for a promotion tour for the album Listen Now. Their concert at Manchester University was finally released as the album 801 Manchester in 2001.

In 2006, the official Phil Manzanera Web site reported that 801 Live was soon to be reissued as a double CD with "minor tweaks" to the original recordings and restoration of the "proper ending" to the song Third Uncle. On the original album, Third Uncle builds to a crescendo of guitar strokes and cuts abruptly to silence. According to the Web site, new material for the second CD will include the band's last rehearsal on a sound stage at Shepperton Film Studios. An official release date for the new double CD has not been announced.


801 Live, Listen Now and 801 Manchester have been re-released on Manzanera's Expression label with additional tracks, the track listings and album covers below refer to those re-releases.


801 Live Track Listing


Side One

  1. "Lagrima" (Manzanera) – 2:34
  2. "TNK (Tomorrow Never Knows)" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 6:14
  3. "East of Asteroid" (Manzanera, MacCormick) – 4:58
  4. "Rongwrong" (Charles Hayward) – 5:10
  5. "Sombre Reptiles" (Eno) – 3:14

Bonus Tracks added to 1999 Reissue (Collectors Edition)

  1. "Golden Hours" (Eno)
  2. "Fat Lady of Limburg" (Eno)

Side Two

  1. "Baby's on Fire" (Eno) – 5:02
  2. "Diamond Head" (Manzanera) – 6:21
  3. "Miss Shapiro" (Manzanera, Eno) – 4:20
  4. "You Really Got Me" (Ray Davies) – 3:23
  5. "Third Uncle" (Eno) – 5:14


Listen Now


Track listing

  1. "Listen Now"
  2. "Flight 19"
  3. "Island"
  4. "Law and Order"
  5. "Rude Awakening" *
  6. "Que?"
  7. "City of Light"
  8. "Initial Speed"
  9. "Postcard Love"
  10. "That Falling Feeling"
  11. "Blue Gray Uniform" *
  12. "Remote Control" *

- * Songs not included on the original LP release


Complete 801 Live at Manchester University

aka 801 Manchester[1] (1977, released 2001)

Track listing

  1. "Listen Now"
  2. "Flight 19"
  3. "Law and Order"
  4. "Que"
  5. "City of Light"
  6. "Initial Speed"
  7. "That Falling Feeling"
  8. "Diamond Head"
  9. "Out of the Blue"
  10. "Remote Control"
  11. "Miss Shapiro"
  12. "You Really Got Me"



  1. ^ 801 series at Expression Records


See also


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