Soon afterwards, attracted by the other performers involved, Eno took part in a one-off showcase featuring singer-guitarist Kevin Ayers, as well as John Cale and Nico, both late of Eno’s beloved Velvet Underground. The performance by the combo (dubbed ACNE from their collective surnames, an acronym sure to appeal to Eno’s fondness for wordplay) was released later in the year as June 1, 1974. Eno starts the album with “Driving Me Backwards” and “Baby’s On Fire”, supported by Cale and Ayers’ backing band, and sticks around for Cale’s dark cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” and Nico’s even more harrowing take on the Doors’ “The End”, with only her see-sawing harmonium below her voice. The other side of the album is devoted to Ayers, whose voice has its own issues with pitch. (Not included on the album was Nico’s rendition of the German national anthem, including the verses usually left out following the demise of the Nazis.)
some appearances with Robert Fripp, Eno’s next high-profile extracurricular performances were with a group headed by fellow Roxy Musician Phil Manzanera. The 801 got their name from an Eno song lyric, and he takes the lead vocal on the majority of 801 Live. The suitably somber “Lagrima” leads into “TNK”, a wonderfully arranged cover of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”, followed by two rearranged pieces from the Manzanera catalog, dovetailing into Eno’s own “Sombre Reptiles”. “Baby’s On Fire” gets a funky makeover, complete with the aforementioned riff, before Phil’s “Diamond Head” instrumental from the album of the same name. A crash through “Miss Shapiro” from the same album leads into the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”, and it all comes down to a reverent “Third Uncle”.
Of the two, 801 Live is pretty solid, and more accessible to a broad audience than the cult sounds of Ayers, Cale and Nico. While the 1974 show has yet to be expanded, the 801 has been upgraded twice: first to add two more Eno songs between what were sides one and two, and again with a bonus disc of rehearsals from a few days earlier.