I was driving up to Davis to pick up Lindsay who was spending Super Bowl Weekend with us (she is a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan), listening to my shuffle on the way, when Roxy Music’s More Than This came popping through the speakers.
More Than This is a lovely song, and I am a big Roxy fan, though apparently not as devoted as my mate Gene.
But, as I was thinking about Roxy, my thoughts went to the 1976 spin-off fostered by Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno, 801.
Backed by the stellar bass of Bill MacCormick and equally deadly drums of Simon Phillips (with additional keys by Francis Monkman), 801 lived long enough to produce a live disc (from which this version is culled) 801 Live along with a studio piece, Listen Now.
I did buy both LPs, but the thing I remember is the first time I heard TNK.
It was Christmas Eve, 1977, and I had a sort of girlfriend, Cathy Fabun, with whom I went to hang with (along with her friends) the early part of that night.
We were all sitting around talking, and getting stoned on some Maui Wowie, which was primo stuff at the time. $50 a quarter of an ounce, which was an unheard amount.
Eventually, I had to go back home as my roommates had stuff planned for the holiday.
In those days, I had one of those little mid-engine Porsche 914’s, so it was like a little spaceship, and instead of taking the main interstate home, I chose to drive on Frontage Road, in Albany and Berkeley, which hugs the bay, and gives a great view of the bridges, San Francisco all the way across the Golden Gate to Marin.
Since it was a nice clear night, you could see every light, and I had the stereo in the Porsche blasting to KSAN, the first free format FM station in the world, and one that at the time was still playing DJ’s choice.
So, on came TNK with no verbal introduction, nice and spacey with Eno leading things off, then MacCormick falling in behind, then the drums, and then Manzanera adding this rugged rhythm chords, and finally things are cranking full tilt.
This first time, I heard the vocals, and the words, and I kept asking myself, “I know this song, what is it?” till it finally came.
As soon as the record store was open (remember, the next day was Christmas) and I bought 801 Live and it has remained a top five live album of mine over the years.
So, on a finally rainy morning (53 days without rain, making it the first January in recorded history with no rain in Northern California till today), a Super Bowl Day when I am having fun cooking for the feast later, here is just a fabulous cut, live or not, cover or not.