Thursday, 3 May 2018

Television “Marquee Moon” 1977 US Art Punk,Post Punk (500 Greatest Albums All Of Time Rolling Stone)


Television “Marquee Moon” 1977 US Art Punk,Post Punk  (500 Greatest Albums All Of Time Rolling Stone) 
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Marquee Moon is a revolutionary album, but it’s a subtle, understated revolution. Without question, it is a guitar rock album – it’s astonishing to hear the interplay between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd – but it is a guitar rock album unlike any other. Where their predecessors in the New York punk scene, most notably the Velvet Underground, had fused blues structures with avant-garde flourishes, Television completely strip away any sense of swing or groove, even when they are playing standard three-chord changes. Marquee Moon is comprised entirely of tense garage rockers that spiral into heady intellectual territory, which is achieved through the group’s long, interweaving instrumental sections, not through Verlaine’s words. That alone made Marquee Moon a trailblazing album – it’s impossible to imagine post-punk soundscapes without it. Of course, it wouldn’t have had such an impact if Verlaine hadn’t written an excellent set of songs that conveyed a fractured urban mythology unlike any of his contemporaries. From the nervy opener, “See No Evil,” to the majestic title track, there is simply not a bad song on the entire record. And what has kept Marquee Moon fresh over the years is how Television flesh out Verlaine’s poetry into sweeping sonic epics…. by Stephen Thomas Erlewine …~


In 1974, an unknown band named Television convinced CBGB owner Hilly Kristal to let them take over the club’s typically dead Sunday night, unwittingly kicking off New York’s punk scene. Though Television could lay claim to getting there first, the band lagged behind its Bowery peers in actually releasing a full-length LP. Patti Smith’s Horses hit stores in 1975, and the self-titled debuts of both Blondie and the Ramones soon followed in ’76. With a volatile lineup and a mercurial frontman in Tom Verlaine, a fan at the time might’ve wondered whether the band would ever get around to painting their masterpiece. 
Finally, on February 8, 1977, Television released Marquee Moon—a debut well worth the wait. That month, the NME’s Nick Kent called the album “a 24-carat inspired work of pure genius, a record finely in tune and sublimely arranged with a whole new slant on dynamics.” Other records might wither in the face of such a rave. But 40 years later, Marquee Moon remains a singular achievement that transcends the “punk” label and still sounds fresh. It’s a classic from start to finish…..by Tyler Wilcox…~


Looming at Marquee Moon’s direct center is the album’s title track. Clocking in at just under 10 minutes on the original vinyl release (reissues include the full 10:40 take) and featuring an exploratory Verlaine guitar solo, “Marquee Moon” is miles away from the Ramones’ minimalist rock antics or Blondie’s ironic pop moves. For precedents, we’d have to go back to the expansive West Coast psychedelia of the Paul Butterfield Band’s “East-West” or even the Grateful Dead’s twin epics “Dark Star” and “The Other One”—even if the mid-’70s crowd at CBGB would likely shudder at such comparisons. To celebrate 40 years of “Marquee Moon” and the album it defines, let’s trace the song’s history.
Apparently “Marquee Moon” was even less punky when Verlaine first imagined it. “‘Marquee Moon’ was written about three years ago and actually it had 20 verses to it,” he told Melody Maker’s Caroline Coon in 1977. “It’s a song I used to do on acoustic guitar.” But there’s no recorded evidence of this mellow embryonic version. The earliest “Marquee Moon” available to collectors comes from a lo-fi rehearsal tape recorded at Television patron/manager Terry Ork’s loft in early 1974. The interlocking puzzle pieces of the song are roughly in place already: the opening guitar’s unmistakable morse code stutter, a thudding bass pulse (played here by Richard Hell); and guitarist Richard Lloyd’s nagging riff (a subliminal nod to the horns on James Brown’s “I Feel Good”). As with most of the band’s Hell-era recordings (he left the group in early 1975), it’s a ramshackle thing, with helter-skelter rhythms and barely in-tune instruments. But the abbreviated end, with all involved racing towards the finish line behind Verlaine’s shivering solo, hints at the heights they’d reach in the coming years.Later in 1974, riding a bit of underground hype on both sides of the Atlantic, Television recorded a demo with Brian Eno and Island Records A&R man Richard Williams. The demo didn’t result in a record deal, but it did leave us with an essential (and still officially unreleased) glimpse of what could have been. Ultimately, Verlaine and Lloyd weren’t fans of the overall sound Eno, Williams, and engineer John Fausty cooked up for them, but their “Marquee Moon” is a solid attempt, if not as magisterial as the song would become. The best part comes right after the ascending climax, as Verlaine’s cascading piano washes over the listener; it’s a moment that looks ahead to the more keyboard-heavy approach of Adventure, Television’s sophomore effort.Television earned a devoted audience during their time as regulars at CBGB. But the band wasn’t universally beloved by any means. “[T]hey reminded me so much of the Grateful Dead, just boring solos, y’know,” Lester Bangs complained in conversation reprinted in Richard Meltzer’s A Whore Like All The Rest. “Endless, laborious climbing up in the scales, then get to the top and there’d be a moment of silence and everybody in the crowd would go berserk applauding, ha!” Bangs was likely referring specifically to “Marquee Moon,” which became a fan favorite at CBs as Television began stretching the song well past the 10-minute mark. (It’s actually a bit surprising that the renowned critic didn’t find more to like; he and Verlaine shared a love of raw garage rock and challenging free jazz.) Thanks to crude audience tapes from 1975 and 1976, we can hear “Marquee Moon” come into its own onstage. To my ears, these performances are worthy of berserk applause, as Verlaine and Lloyd’s intertwining guitars shoot off considerable sparks while new bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca find a transcendental rhythmic zone beneath them.“I make so many mistakes when I play—it’s just that people don’t pick up on them,” Verlaine told Rolling Stone in 1977. “There are any number of ways to get from one place to another on the neck of the guitar that I don’t know about.” Modesty notwithstanding, Verlaine’s six-string skills had deepened considerably by 1978, when Television played its final shows (before ’90s and ’00s reunions, of course). And there was no better showcase for those skills than the nightly ritual of “Marquee Moon,” which usually served as the band’s pre-encore closer. We’ve got a few officially released 1978 performances to choose from: one drawn from the ROIO cassette The Blow-Up, another from a San Francisco FM broadcast. Both are fantastic. But perhaps the finest “Marquee Moon” of all, taped a few days after the San Francisco show in Portland, Ore., remains officially unreleased. Here, the song balloons well past the 17-minute mark, but not a moment is wasted, as Verlaine’s quicksilver solo (with shades of Brit-folk guitar hero Richard Thompson) builds and builds over his cohorts’ fluid backing. If he’s making mistakes, you won’t pick up on them here. And if you listen closely, you might just hear the sound of lightning striking itself….by Tyler Wilcox….Pitchfork…~


“This isn’t Earth music,” marveled Ahmet Ertegun to Jerry Wexler, and I can certainly sympathize with the sentiment. After all, these two men were responsible for the release of a massive chunk of timeless jazz, soul, and R&B; now in 1975, these men were hearing a form of music bled of overt Black influences. The groove is here, but it’s nervy, skittery. It’s worth noting, though, that Tom Verlaine’s first choice to record the band was Blue Note impresario Rudy Van Gelder. 
To call this music jazz-inspired might be stretching it; however, Verlaine’s solos were largely spontaneous creations (Richard Lloyd always wanted him to double his lines, but he couldn’t remember them right): modal, wandering, self-aware. In bop Television had an intellectual forbear. 
But this record is also more New Wave and rock ‘n’ roll than punk in key places (the paranoid “Elevation” and “Torn Curtain,” the Reed-esque shuffle of “Prove It”). These guys couldn’t play straight punk if they wanted; thank God they never really bothered to try. Which CBGB alum could’ve given us the all-time ballad “Guiding Light”? And who else (with the exception of future heroes Beat Happening) could’ve forced fifteen simple hooks into ten mesmerizing minutes? A rare album that neither inspires hype nor sniping. A revolutionary side-concept from punk that took decades to spread seeds….by…Silent Mike ….~


Of the vanguards of the CBGB’s scene, Television seems to have slipped the most into obscurity. Blondie survives in popular memory through a bevy of classic singles, the Ramones are sworn allegiance by virtually every band formed after this year, the Talking Heads have become well respected elder statesmen, only Patti Smith has obscured a little but she still has a modicum of distant fame in certain places. I’m not saying Television has become completely unknown, it’s certainly not true, but compared to their peers? And considering their style? Which is seemingly more ideal for say the Ramones fans than arty farty Patti? I find it kind of strange. Now some immediate things leap to mind to explain it, partly they really had no career to speak of, a trickle of almost completely obscure albums after this one for instance that you NEVER see mentioned or cared about. Again only Patti has that unfavorable distinction from that list, and again, I’d say Horses is discussed more. Me personally I think the most compelling reason for Television’s obscurity is their sound is too off of what people were expecting. Here in 77’ a ton of people convened at almost the same space and time with something resembling what would become our idea of Punk. The British examples not being what I’m talking about as almost all of them were direct children of the Ramones. It was mostly American acts who popped up around the time with a similar rough urban frenetic style. Iggy got to offer a new version of what he’d been doing for nearly a decade, the Ramones obviously were already hawking their brand, and Television too brings a version. And for the most part what’s gone and happened is that Marquee Moon’s brand of this music has simply become an evolutionary dead end. Like one of those strange humanoid cousins of ours like Neanderthals, that could have been the monkey-men to take over the world, but instead they were overwhelmed by us, and we got the world. That’s kind of how I see Television in comparison to the Ramones. I’m not going to even bother saying which style is better, as it’s not the point. The point is that this is familiar yet strange to our modern ears, and that might be offputting and confusing to people going into it expecting something Ramones like genetically speaking. Like y'know, a modern human looking at a Neanderthal! It’s the uncanny valley effect! Except with music instead of animation! It’s not like you can easily box this in to some concept of “proto-punk” either, as it doesn’t sound like that entirely. In a way it has one foot in the world before Ramones, and the world after them, while never touching down in the middle. Aspects of it feel older, while at the same time they’re experimenting in ways that you think of as consciously trying to experiment with Punk. But really this is all beside the main point, all this is why the poor thing has fallen through the cracks and why new listeners might have a bit of a tough time with it. Because at it’s heart it is something comparable with the CBGBs bands, and no it’s nowhere near as strange as the Talking Heads. They’re taking the hard modern urban chug, the legacy of the Velvet Underground, and creating something tough and simple..but a bit arty. This isn’t any huge deal, they’re not the only ones to do it. At it’s heart this is easy to love is what I’m saying. And yeah, while many little bands were doing stuff like this, Television here really has their strong signature take. What makes it a looked over gem is mostly how big they write with such simple elements. Very unlike the Ramones and their British children, we have a band that isn’t interested in the short form, they take this tough street rock and make it into these semi-epic expressions. Every song on here is around four minutes or longer, much longer in the case of the title track. That too can make this tough on people expecting simple Punk, and tough on people used to hearing arty Punk that abandons simple elements. It almost feels like the band is taking the grand complex expressions of earlier seventies bands, but stripping all the skin off those types of songs to just the bones. It’s an interesting thing hearing it like that! Longer form slightly arty but still raw Punk would blossom even greater later on with the second Wipers album, but Television did it first. A unique album, certainly not as ugly as a neanderthal….by…Zephos ….~


I hate guitar wank. I hate self indulgence in music. I hate music that’s overblown. I hate guitar solos that don’t go anywhere and are so ridiculously directionless. I hate music that’s hyped to the high heavens, but never lives up to its reputation. I hate albums that have one overly long track that’s supposed to be absolutely brilliant, when it actually isn’t, and the rest is mediocre (*cough* Maggot Brain *cough*) But most of all I hate anyone who accuses Marquee Moon of being any of these things. Luckily, it’s a massively loved album so not TOO many people criticise it. If a lot of people did criticise it, it’d fill me with misanthropy. Because for me, Marquee Moon is by far and large the best guitar record ever made. 

I think I love it so much because the guitars aren’t directionless and boring - they’re cool as fuck. Seriously, the guitar playing here is immaculate, the guitar tone is also perfect but most importantly I think a lot of guitar driven albums lack the fundamental thing you need to make a great album - great songwriting. And Marquee Moon has brilliant songwriting, it contains some of the most wonderfully crafted and brilliantly put together songs ever written with fantastic lyrics that are both humorous and witty yet thought provoking and some of the greatest instrumentation you’ll ever hear. It’s so loose and free, without feeling like it’s going nowhere, and it’s so fun without feeling silly or stupid. I believe this to be the peak of Rock music, this is as good as it gets for me. Those crisp energetic guitars are as good as guitars get, and the playing really is other worldly - I think it’s the best guitar playing I’ve ever heard. The only way this can be truly appreciated is at full volume and it’s so transcendental, it makes you forget any and all of your problems. I think my favourite actually song may be 'Venus’, rather than the title track but every single song on the album is brilliant and it’s easy to listen to the title track and carry on with the album and feel underwhelmed because of how good the title track is - but I don’t think the quality of the album decreases at all. It’s a rock album that’s void of the usual clichés and it remains brilliant listen after listen….by…TheCunningStunt …~


I think that labeling Marquee Moon “punk” does it a disservice. No, it sounds nothing like the Ramones or Black Flag or the Clash, but it is indeed punk. 

In the late 70s, when this and Talking Heads and Wire and Joy Division were all coming out, there was no “alternative” or “indie”. Nirvana wouldn’t break “alternative” to the masses for another 14 years after this album came out. Doolittle, what many consider the first “indie” album wasn’t around for another 12 years. At the time, everything outside the mainstream that was somewhat like rock got lumped together as “punk”. Make no mistake about it, though, Television did play CBGB during its heyday. 

Everyone who is giving this less than 3 has the punk stereotype lodged in their brain or false equivocations of marketability with quality. High-energy and frenetic it’s not, but what it lacks in sheer “balls-to-the-wall” excitement, it recovers and even improves upon with textured guitars, lyrics that express a poetic sense of despair, and drums that keep it all on track. So what if it isn’t super-ultra-mega-multi-platinum, since when did things have to sell well to be art. 

Quite possibly the greatest album ever created, and certainly the best rock album ever, I place it at number 1 on my All-Time Favorites list, among such greats as Kind of Blue, Highway 61 Revisited, OK Computer and The Velvet Underground and Nico. The only bad thing one could say about this album is its lack of recognition from the mainstream. Sure, European audiences went crazy for it and have heralded it since its release, but in America it is incredibly difficult to find, even in large music stores. This masterpiece needs way more recognition. Anyone seeking to be a rock guitarist absolutely must check out the title track’s solos, which features the best guitar playing in the post-Hendrix era…..by…theymightbegiants ….~


Television are one of the first punk bands, and highly influential to the sound of the NY scene at the time. They really drew attention to CBGB’s where they had a regular gig, and soon amazing bands were popping up everywhere in their wake. Their energy is superb, they really capture that rock 'n’ roll essence with brilliant guitar work and yet they ooze garage ethic with their attitude and style. Considering the fact that they really were part of the punk scene, they certainly weren’t sloppy, the musicianship on this album is impressive, and it seems that careful thought was put into the songs which are amazing and timeless. Also Verlaine’s lyrics are wicked and his sense of timing and delivery make this extra special as well, this album really is the complete package. Of course every song here (and there are only eight of them) is pretty perfect but I guess favorites would be “See No Evil”, “Venus”, “Prove It” and “Marquee Moon” but seriously I can’t imagine not liking the whole thing. A definite classic album deserving of it’s status, highly recommended to just about anyone…by…Goregirl …~


While it’s true that most famous musicians are primarily remembered for a single album, Television is a rare case of a widely acclaimed band (with more than one album out, of course) whose entire legacy rests on a single LP. As far as most people are concerned, Television’s career begins with “See No Evil,” or maybe the paranoid, funky, single-only masterpiece “Little Johnny Jewel” and ends with “Torn Curtain.” Of course, I’m just as guilty of perpetuating this mindset as anyone else - sure, I like Television’s other two albums, and I will contend that “Days” is about as good as the weakest songs here (which is a massive compliment, seeing how I hold even this album’s relatively weaker moments in VERY high regard), but this is the only one I listen to on a regular basis. 

It’s funny that this has a reputation of being one of the first punk albums (which it isn’t, of course. It’s one of the first post-punk albums. God, people, keep your music geek terminology straight! We can’t do everything for you!), seeing that it’s also one of my all-time favorite guitar records. Maybe my favorite, period, although Are You Experienced? might have something to say about that. It’s definitely got some of the most imaginative playing I’ve ever heard - yeah, there are as many guitar solos here as on your average Led Zeppelin record, but the difference is that Television’s actually go somewhere. Despite all the soloing, and the fact that five of these eight songs are over five minutes long, this is one economical album. Lloyd and Verlaine are like jazz musicians in the way they make every single note count. None of that Eddie Van Halen play a bunch of notes just so I can hear myself play crap here, no sir. Check out the absolutely godlike solo that makes up a majority of “Marquee Moon,” how it keeps ebbing and flowing and heading into progressively darker territory before pulling a complete 180 and breaking into a heavenly set of arpeggios, then returning to the song’s paranoid main theme. “Marquee Moon” is rock’s answer to “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” and trust me - it’s just as good in its own way. And I don’t toss Ellington at Newport-related comparisons around lightly. 

Of course, everything else here is just about as great. I think “Friction” does the best job of summing up what you’re gonna get: tense riffs, bizarre vocals, and a sputtering (stuttering? Man, I wish I could combine those words, but it would just look like a typo), shaky guitar part that absolutely kills. Especially the “nee nee nee neet!” part that underlies the chorus. Meanwhile, “Elevation” - despite being one of the weaker songs here - shows the band successfully riding a spy movie bass groove that’s just the fucking absolute coolest thing ever (just to reiterate, it’s the second worst song on the album, and I’m describing it as “ the fucking absolute coolest thing ever. This album is fucking your hyperbolic adjective here) and displaying all sorts of weird charisma. 

Most of this weird charisma can be attributed to Tom Verlaine. His voice took me a few listens to get over, but I think it’s actually one of the coolest things about this album. He can’t sing a lick, and his timbre is rather abrasive from an objective standpoint, but listen to how cool the guy is. "Venus” is really his big showpiece as one of the most charismatic singers alive, with the band doing this absolutely bad-ass “DID YOU FEEL LOW?” mobbed backing vocal, and Tom responding with a casual “Naaaah…” and everyone else going “HUUUUUH?” And then he’s all “I fell right into the aaaarrms…. of veeeenus… de miiiilllloooo…” It’s moments like that. Or the way he sings every single botched note of “See No Evil,” a song which is helped along by a totally bitchin’ jumpy rhythm. The backing vocals throughout also completely rule, of course, but Tom just takes it a level beyond that. He sounds like he’s dying, but just doesn’t give a fuck about it. 

Of course, it really is about the guitar playing and the songwriting. That’s why I like “Torn Curtain” so much, even though no one else seems to. Everyone says that the intro’s kinda boring, but that the soloing rocks. I’m gonna argue that the intro, the chorus, the verse, and the solos are all fantastic. Meanwhile, “Guiding Light” proves that Television could write a conventional pop ballad if they had chosen to, though of course it’s a conventional pop ballad with a bizarre edge. And even “Prove It,” despite being the weakest song on the album, still has a great sing-along chorus. 

So hey, what am I gonna do to conclude this, anyway? Complain about how “Little Johnny Jewel” got dumped off the album? (By the way, get the reissue of this one, because you MUST have “Little Johnny Jewel”) Whine at the general music community (not us RYM'ers, of course, but the people in this world who aren’t total music dorks) have let this slip through the cracks in a year where fucking “Hotel California” was the top-selling single? Why does anyone like that piece of shit song, anyway? Or just tell you to get your mitts on a copy of this if you haven’t heard it and destroy every Eagles album you encounter at every record store you ever arrive at? Hm… I think I’ll go with the third….by…finulanu ….~


Okay, this is my favorite album of all time, and here’s why: 

The interplay between Richard Lloyd on rhythm, and Tom Verlaine doing his solos like crazy makes a sound like no other. Neon sounding music, if that makes any sense at all. Tom Verlaine’s tone is just so vibrant, and it just has that neon feel, if you know what I mean. The lyrics are clever, but that’s really doesn’t matter when you have these…these…SONGS! They’re all bloody fantastic! “See No Evil”, “Venus”, “Elevation”, and especially the epic 10 minute title track, which is the longest song I can put on at anytime, and be completely entertained throughout. 
Tom Verlaine is the best guitarist ever. Hands down….by…Seattle Junkie Queen …~


'Do I belong to the night? Only, only, only tonight’. 
There is something timeless about Television, they are the embodiment of cool in rock. Would we have had Interpol without this album? I think not. And lord it is glorious. The majestic “Marquee Moon” has what is arguably the greatest guitar solo ever, truly rapturous, and then that beautiful return in of all the parts. Since I bought this CD, I’ve had it in the player in my car any time I drive around after dark. There is so much that feels serendipitous here, a merging of strange noises, circling guitars, angular bass, the off-kilter vocals, and those few deft sprinkles of piano, that it all adds up to far more than the sum of its parts. The lyrics tend toward the nihilistic ('I understand all destructive urges’), yet also poetic and otherworldly. Punk rock? Not as such, it feels more akin to jazz if anything. 
I feel so stumbling and awkward trying to speak of this album, which has such effortless and fluid grace as to put me to shame….by….jshopa….~


Doesn’t it annoy you when you make fun of something, or don’t appreciate something when you’re younger, and then look back not that much later, and go, “Wow, I was stupid.” This album is one such example, though not necessarily in the way you might be thinking. I didn’t listen to it and consider it bad, it’s just that I first heard about it in freshman year, from a friend of mine who was 3-6 years ahead of most of his peers in terms of maturity of taste in most areas, including myself. I thought I was cool: I liked old rock, like The Who, Zep, and The Beatles, and considered myself sophisticated (not to diminish their quality by any stretch at all, I just had a limited scope.) Then comes along Chris, who is talking about Can, Captain Beefheart, and this New York punk band called Television. Given my immaturity, I threw this into the pile of albums I’d heard of from him, writing it off as “weird,” since I hadn’t heard of it. And now here we are, 3 years later, and I have yet to get sick of this album, or ever feel like it’s an improper time to listen to it. I can think of about 10 albums for which this is the case, putting this in a special place in my collection. There is nothing not to like about this album, it succeeds in all areas. It is punky without being annoying. It’s some of the edgiest and most melodic rock music I’ve ever heard. It is intricate, but never feels showy. The rhythmic interactions are so complex, but sound like they make so much sense, that anybody could have writen them, but you know nobody else could have. The lyrics are humorous but profound. It’s tasty, and yet you know it wouldn’t go down well. Maybe I’m taking the conflict statements to far…..by…yoda2000….~


One of thee most awesome sounding guitar rekkerds that exists. I just don’t think its quite up to Richard Hell’s album of thee same year, altho this is thee one that gets all thee love from thee reviewers here. I think both need to be heard; both are triumphant sides to thee same coin of punk….by….SellMeAGod …~


Television make me laugh - they’re blatantly and undeniably a part of the rock canon, but nobody seems to have any idea how to actually canonize them. Clearly not a punk band, they’re also too early to really be labelled as post-punk (not without getting into a complex cause-and-effect debate, anyway - they weren’t post-punk before punk happened, but they definitely were before punk was something worth reacting to). They were part of the influential CBGB set, but does that really mean anything when it includes acts as diverse as Blondie, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, The Cramps, and The Misfits? And they regularly appear in lists of great guitar albums, or guitar heroes - but nothing Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd on any of these songs is flashy or cocky enough to earn them the deeply backhanded compliment of being placed alongside the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Satriani, and Slash. I actually didn’t really notice that there were any guitar solos until the third or fourth listen, because they’re weaved into the songs so well. 

It’s all because this album presents us with a problem - it’s obviously fantastic, and clearly a big influence on plenty of other bands, but it doesn’t really sound like anything else. Did anybody else else ever attain this level of sophistication using just guitars, drums, and bass? Did anybody else make it sound this effortless? Did anybody else not disappear up their own arses in the process? And yet, for all this, it doesn’t sound radically different from a lot of other famous bands. Nobody could really claim that Marquee Moon sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard, no matter how true it is, because there are fragments of this album that found their way into all sorts of other places. Nobody has ever clearly ripped this off (not even The Strokes, whose links to Television were always overstated), but plenty have co-opted little bits. 

The way to praise this album accurately, of course, is just to say that it’s fucking brilliant and have done with it. And it definitely is fucking brilliant, that’s a given; the whole first side of this album remains one of the most perfect things ever constructed in rock music, with “Venus” and “Marquee Moon” the towering standouts. I guess sometimes that’s not enough, though; there needs to be a reason for classic status that goes beyond that. I found myself subconsciously looking for that reason when I first heard this, which is probably why it took me a while to really recognize how good it is. 'It’s good because it’s good’ - it doesn’t really sound right for an album as famous as this one, but that’s just how it is….by..iai….~

When I was a teen I worked for a while in the rag trade in Sydney. Surry Hills, the area where my work was centred, is either the first or second suburb east of the City of Sydney….just depends which way you look at it. Even though I was from further out in the suburbs, a lot of my time, not long outta school, was spent in around the inner city during this time and the years which were to follow. The post-hippies and glam queens, the children of god and the glitter chicks, the alcoholics outside the soon to open bars, the lunch-time trendies and the denizens of the sooncome night, the office people and the sandwich bar girls - all of 'em were there….all of 'em with me, all of 'em part of me and the fact that I was discovering the world this way…through the pre-disco dance clubs and the other places I would play in my own band. All was new, all was as I dreamt, all was city, all was lights, all was rock and roll and when it was daytime the lights would be on again soon enough. 

And the lights on and over the bay at night-time, much closer to my suburban home. Smoking dope with an older girl who was never my girlfriend in her car parked by the bay. The lights over there….twinkling through the distance and haze as she sorted through the glove box in front of my knees as I rolled a joint….searching for 'Transformer’ or 'Diamond Dogs’ or Leonard Cohen or something. Listening to 'Sweet Thing’ or 'Suzanne’ or whatever as the stone hit and the lights over there twinked more so and said things that I oh so eagerly wished I could translate….even to translate my youthful haze into words of perfect expression….“Now I have really begun….yes, now you have begun…we are the things that will take you not just part, but all yes all of the way home”. 

I was so used to the sound and feel of that city, the way it was then…in my time, the time my soul started to surface, that I didn’t see a synthesis, if you like, of the whole thing coming….I didn’t care. So both deep and carefree is a youth this way that when the wind of it that knows you and you oh you know it almost immediately that it really is time to get swept right up. 

Now I see you have answered my questions - I was only guessing before. At last they are speaking my language. I dont know if I want you to understand it or not. 

I get home one night to where I live with my mum and dad. They are gonna separate soon in bitter and stupid and half drunken messy hearbreak. I’m tripping again and I put on the headphones and go for side two of this LP I just bought….. 

“I sleep light on these shores tonight. I sleep light on these shores”. 

Something - I dont know what it is…I will never know what it is or was for you. some things you hear when you are young now and they …. what they do is set your soul alight so you know exactly who you are for a while …. you will hear them when you are young now, or if you are just a little bit more like me you first heard them long, long ago….these are not just the best of the soundtrack….these are not just the most evocative of the nostalgia or the fire of your youth in the living now….. 

these are the things that will take you and your soul not just part but all, oh yes ALL the way home….by….moondoggieferg ….~


A curiosity rather than a masterpiece!? 
So here we go again, another classic album from the deep past which completely passed me by back in the day. Currently showing as the 29th greatest album of all time, wow - an impressive rating. But I am not so sure… 

I see 'Marquee Moon’ as some kind of bridge from the early seventies alternative rock music to the alternative rock music of the late seventies. I am not sure why this band would be considered anywhere near the genre of punk rock, perhaps it was just down to the fact that this band had relatively short hair for the time, and they were the best thing America had to offer in the mid / late seventies? Five of the eight tracks weigh in at more than five minutes, so it’s more progressive than punk! Although admittedly the music is not as polished as you would expect from a sophisticated progressive rock group. Shabby chic? 
I have read elsewhere about the great guitar on this album, perhaps it was great for the era but it doesn’t stand up particularly well know. This album has definitely aged, I don’t go a bundle on the vocals nor lyrics either. 
The above said, I have enjoyed getting to know these eight tracks, and I am pleased to have 'Marquee Moon’ in my collection, but sadly I just do not see this album as being up there with the very best. 
A curiosity rather than a masterpiece?…..by….corkie….~


One would think that 'art punk’ is an oxymoron, but Television makes it sound as natural as could be with their quintessential debut Marquee Moon. It is rooted in punk, everything is based in brash, simple power chords, churning around in a rocking tempo - never letting it’s guard down. However, it is clearly elevating and building from that sound, hence the term art punk. With loads of arpeggios, impressive drum fills, breakdowns, buildups-and-releases, and guitar solos everywhere, it just comes across as a more sophisticated work. 

Verlaine’s vocals has somewhat of a swinging cadence to it, dynamic and quivering like some 50’s rock n roll. The lyrics also sets the record apart. It is much less confrontational, focusing more on alienation from relationships and society. The drums are constantly good, and the bass is very distinct and equally elaborate. The songwriting is constantly good, delivering 45 minutes of a more composed punk energy. Some of these songs are also very catchy, in the melodies, riffing, hooks and solos. With all that in mind, there aren’t any staggering heights to the album. Constant quality, constant fun and constant rock is what’s at the table…..by….kompayaa ……~


Let’s be unequivocal here. These two albums represent the most important re-releases of the year. Maybe even the decade. Strong words; but necessary in this world of pointless comparison. Yes, the Strokes sure do look like these paragons of New York, new wave cool, but soundwise; its time to listen up. NO ONE ever will or can come close to these recordings. Let’s prove it… 

Guitars: it’s impossible to review any Television release without discussing the boy’s toys; and TV have two world-class exponents of the craft. Tom Verlaine could (and should) have a book written about his stinging sci-fi tone and dazzling Fender Jaguar explorations. He lies somewhere between Richard Thompson and John Coltrane. Less is said of Richard Lloyd, but anyone who’s seen them live will attest to his skill. The first solo on Marquee Moon belongs to him (“See No Evil”) and it’s a testament to melodic economy. Verlaine only exceeds him in terms of out-thereness. What, of course, is really important is how the two work together. Underpinned by Fred Smith’s redoubtable bass and Billy Ficca’s clattering toms, it’s part psychedelia, part existentialist verse, part gritty rock 'n’ roll voodoo, part sentimental bluster and wholly, radically new. 

Lumped in with the punk explosion of 77, Television were no three-chord heroes. What set them and their New York contemporaries apart was diversity and stronger links to the past. By the release of Marquee Moon Verlaine and Co. had been together for at least three years and owed as much to their love of Love, Moby Grape and Fairport Convention as to a desire to break the mould. What’s more, they really could play. The rapture at finally being able to hear their 1975 debut single “Little Johnny Jewel” on CD is only matched by amazement at how weedy and technically faltering it sounds. By 1977 they could play this material in their sleep and were totally unafraid of being captured virtually live in the studio by Zeppelin’s engineer, Andy Johns. 

Marquee Moon thus burst, seemingly, out of nowhere:a fully-formed masterpiece of electric poetry. No other band at the time could have got away with a ten-minute title track (live, it stretched to nigh on half an hour!) had they not matched thedextrous instrumentation with Verlaine’s sneeringly obtuse wordplay. His voice, always verging on the bleatingly awkward, is perfect in this setting. Listen to him spit out the line: 'I start to spin the tale. You complain of my DICtion…’ (“Friction”). 

By Adventure, luxury proved their downfall. Often dismissed as a pale companion to Marquee Moon, it only really suffers from over-attention. New songs seemed to merit a more meticulous production - it took 9 times longer to record - and the edginess was lost. However, material like “Ain’t That Nothin”’, “The Dream’s Dream” and “Glory” easily match earlier efforts: the first featuring some of their greatest guitar moments and the second actually benefitting from the extra care involved -all subtle shading and delicate filigree; stately as a saraband. 

Unfortunately indifference dealt the final blow and the band weren’t seen again until 1991: the Orson Welleses of rock. Yet they still gig, and age, indeed, has not withered them one jot. One only wishes for new material. However, if you’d recorded an album as flawless as Marquee Moon wouldn’t you be a mite daunted? 

Rhino are to be applauded. Their re-mastering actually does make these diamonds shine a little harder while extras like the alternative “Friction” (more 50’s b-movie in its feel) and the actual title track of Adventure make them must-haves for fans. But let’s face it: they’re just plain simple must-haves. This case is closed…by…Chris Jones …BBC review….~

Television were the guitar mystics on the CBGB scene, mixing the howl of the Velvet Underground, the epic song lengths of Yes and the double-helix guitar sculpture of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Their debut was as exhilarating in its lyrical ambitions as the Ramones’ first album was in its brutal simplicity…..Rolling Stone…..~ 
  Television came from the same New York music scene/womb that gave birth to the New York Dolls, the Ramones, Blondie, Johnny Thunders, the Dead Boys, etc., except they were also very influenced by the same poet revival that Patty Smith and Jim Carroll came from. They are unique, and un-categorical. This re-release including some excellent bonus tracks is sharp and clear, and “Marquee Moon” was always an album that you never tire of listening to. Verlaine and Lloyd, despite their differences (or maybe because of), are great foils for each other and each are magnificent guitar players, and backed by the rhythm section of Ficca (drums) and Smith (bass) have the ability to let loose their creativity. Check out the books “Sonic Transmission” and “Marquee Moon (from the 33 1/3 series), both available here on Amazon, for more details of the wonderful musical collaboration….by… Donald Mallen….~

When you say "punk” to the average person now, they conjure up images of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones(perhaps), some hardcore, and quite possibly even Green Day. But it really started out as so much more…. and this album proves it.(no pun intended) This is an exercise in hearing ART. This is where we were hoping music could take us, and if you were a “thinking youth” in 1977, believe me, music needed to go somewhere. How refreshing for my young ears to hear this instead of “Hotel California” that was being played ad nauseum on the radio. There was suddenly a light at the end of the tunnel. And what a light this was. This was part of the movement that brought us Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones, the Talking Heads, and the Voidoids, just to name a few. Think about that diversity. Now merge that with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, the Vibrators, and most of the talent from the “Stiff” label from England and you have some idea of the broad scope of punk at that time. (Then they started to divide it all for marketing purposes - “New Wave”, “New Romantic”, “Art Punk”, “Hardcore”, “Post Punk”, “West Coast”, “East Coast”, blah blah blah.) This album opens your eyes to what it is possible to get out of your guitar. It is an album of contrasts- smooth, liquid guitar paired with an abrupt rhythm section; military sounding drums with guitars and bass curling around them, lapping at the beats like flames; staccato guitars and a jazzy drumline- all with Tom Verlaine’s unmistakable vocals layered throughout. The original album is reproduced here quite nicely, and dare I say it? -better audio integrity than my original cd or even my original vinyl copy, & just as warm. But the extra bonus of “Little Johnny Jewel” is an awesome addition- now you don’t have to scour used record stores for the seven inch. This is an fantastic reissue of a fantastic album…..By Ritaon March…..~


Television might not have sounded like a lot of the other CBGB bands, but its members were purely “punk” in their attitude. When it came to making their debut album, the guys in Television were uncompromising. 

For starters, Television zigged when most of the New York groups zagged. Guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd favored thin, intermingled guitar over power chords – surgeon’s scalpels vs. bulldozers. Some of that easily identifiable difference was because of Television’s influences. Although Lloyd was a rock devotee and had learned at the hands of Jimi Hendrix, literally, Verlaine had fostered a long-running love of jazz. 

“In the early ’60s I hated pop. I took up sax in about ’63, and an older friend of mine had some [John] Coltrane and Ornette Coleman records, and that’s the music I liked,” Verlaine told Guitar Player in 1993. “I never listened to guitar music – I thought it was a really twee instrument. But when I wanted to write songs, I decided that was the thing to play. For me, even a solo is an accompaniment of some kind, or it just takes the place of a voice.” 

To achieve that sense of “voice” and the band’s needlepoint precision, Television practiced constantly. As Verlaine, Lloyd and drummer Billy Ficca became better musicians, original bassist Richard Hell became frustrated and left the group, to be replaced by Fred Smith
“We used to rehearse like five or six hours a day,” Lloyd told Gibson Guitar in 2011. If that sounds like excruciating work, it wasn’t for Lloyd, who spoke lovingly about the fun that he and the other members were having. “I felt like I had run off and joined the circus. That’s how super that felt.” 

Television thought so highly of the music it was making that the band members, especially frontman Verlaine became increasingly proprietary about it. The band rejected offers for a record deal as early as 1974, just a year after forming, because the members didn’t feel the band was quite ready. 

After making some demos with Brian Eno in the producer’s seat, Television famously turned down the opportunity to make a debut LP for Island Records with Eno, because Verlaine didn’t think he had captured the band’s warmth. They vetoed a contract with Clive Davis’ Arista Records when Verlaine decided he would only agree to a deal if he could produce the sessions himself. As the New York punk scene exploded and artists like Patti Smith, the Ramones and Blondie got signed to contracts, Elektra Records agreed to sign Television with Verlaine’s stipulations, as long as the group worked with an experienced engineer. 

“Tom didn’t want anyone telling him what to do, or telling us what to do,” Lloyd recalled. “And so, what we decided was we would get an up-and-coming engineer/producer. And who better than Andy Johns, who was Glyn Johns’s brother, who was the engineer on Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Cream, Traffic. My God, you name it, he engineered it, and he was beginning to become a producer. In the meantime, we get all that skill… which was just phenomenal.” 

So Marquee Moon came from these disparate factors: Verlaine’s jazz fandom, Lloyd’s rock god pedigree, the edgy punk scene and a co-producer who was schooled in some of the greatest rock records in existence. But it wasn’t just the sound, or Lloyd and Verlaine’s sixth-sense for intermingling their guitar lines that made the debut album special. It was the songs Verlaine brought to New York’s A&R Recording Studio. 

“Marquee Moon is a set of songs we had already been working on for years, and playing live as well,” Lloyd said. “So they were, in a way, codified.” 

Indeed, six of the LP’s eight tracks were well-honed before it came time to record the songs in the fall of 1976. Lloyd and Verlaine had worked out who played which solo at which point on which tune (hence the detailed solo credits on the finished album). “Guiding Light,” written with Lloyd, and “Torn Curtain,” solely credited to Verlaine like the others, were two new songs added to the mix.
Each side of the LP featured three shorter songs followed by an epic – the 10-minute title track on the first side which displays Television’s use of melody and counter-melody. The lyrics of the different songs coalesced into what many interpreted as a subconscious concept record about lower Manhattan – a dark, urban dream, but one full of puns, asides and imagery about the natural world. 
Also of note is the album cover, which featured a tweaked photo of Verlaine, Lloyd, Ficca and Smith made by the famous and controversial Robert Mapplethorpe. The art photographer had previously shot Patti Smith for the Horses sleeve. 
“Tom was friends with Patti Smith, and Patti was friends with Robert,” Lloyd told Vintage Guitar. “Since Robert was one of the great living photographers, it was an easy choice. Tom thought of it and I thought it was absolutely wonderful that he agreed to do it.” 
When Mapplethorpe allowed Television to choose the band’s favorite photo from the session, the guys picked the one with Verlaine’s reaching his hand toward the camera, then went to make copies of it at a print shop. Supposedly, Verlaine directed a clerk to mess with the knobs on some copies, and the strangely colored, splotchy finished cover is the result of the accidental experimentation. 
Marquee Moon was released on Feb. 8, 1977 in the U.S., and about a month later in the U.K. Although it got rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, the record only performed well commercially in Britain. “Marquee Moon” and “Prove It” both charted as singles in England, as did the LP. Over time the album’s reputation has only grown, as the music press and many alternative and indie musicians credit Marquee Moon with an astounding amount of influence with decades of rockers. The likes of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, former Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante, Joy Division’s Stephen Morris and U2’s the Edge have credited the album for changing the way they approached their music. 

“The electric guitar had really become such an unoriginal-sounding instrument,” the Edge said, according to Rip it Up and Start Again. Listening to Marquee Moon “was just such a throw-down to me.”…..~


Along with Blondie and the Ramones, Television achieved their initial notoriety while playing in the same place (an esophagus of a bar called CBGB, in lower Manhattan), and have been lumped together with other habitués of this joint as purveyors of “punk rock.” In their self-consciousness and liberal open-mindedness, these bands are as punky as Fonzie; that is, not at all. 

Marquee Moon, Television’s debut album, is more interesting, audacious and unsettling than either Blondie’s eponymous debut album or the Ramones’ Leave Home. Leader Tom Verlaine wrote all the songs, coproduced with Andy Johns, plays lead guitar in a harrowingly mesmerizing stream-of-nightmare style and sings all his verses like an intelligent chicken being strangled: clearly, he dominates this quartet. Television is his vehicle for the portrayal of an arid, despairing sensibility, musically rendered by loud, stark repetitive guitar riffs that build in every one of Marquee Moon’s eight songs to nearly out-of-control climaxes. The songs often concern concepts or inanimate objects – “Friction,” “Elevation,” “Venus (de Milo, that is) – and when pressed Verlaine even opts for the mechanical over the natural: in the title song, he doesn’t think that a movie marquee glows like the moon; he feels that the moon resonates with the same evocative force as a movie marquee. 
When one can make out the lyrics, they often prove to be only non sequiturs, or phrases that fit metrically but express little, or puffy aphorisms or chants. (The chorus of "Prove It” repeats, to a delightful sprung-reggae beat: “Prove it/ Just the facts/ The confidential” a few times.) 
All this could serve to distance or repel us, and taken with Verlaine’s guitar solos, which flirt with an improvisational formlessness, cold easily bore. But he structures his compositions around these spooky, spare riffs, and they stick to the back of your skull. On Marquee Moon, Verlaine becomes all that much better for a new commercial impulse that gives his music its catchy, if slashing, hook. 
Television treks across the same cluttered, hostile terrain as bands like the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls, but the times may be on the side of Verlaine: we have been prepared for Television’s harsh subway sound by a grudging, after-the-fact-of-their-careers acceptance of those older bands. ..- Ken Tucker, Rolling Stone, 4/7/77…..~

The New York Art and Punk Rock underground has been received with justifiable suspicion elsewhere, since the New York critics are the only people who’ve actually heard the groups in question. Albums by three of the better-known outfits are now available and the results, though mixed, are a definite improvement over the New York Dolls. Of the lot, Television’s Marquee Moon is easily the most accessible. Singer/songwriter Tom Verlaine’s quavering, intense vocal style owes a lot to Lou Reed and Patti Smith, though it’s likely that Patti took more from Verlaine than vice versa. The lyrics – striking, frequently brilliant pieces of the darkly romantic, jungle-of-cities genre – are complemented by spare, slightly menacing musical settings, with the band employing repeated minimal riffs much in the manner of the early West Coast groups. ….- Playboy, 6/77….~

Marquee Moon is Television’s undisputed masterpiece and a landmark in modern rock. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd achieve guitar nirvana; drawing on the Allman Brothers technique of harmonized guitar lines, the guitarists line songs such as “See No Evil” and “Torn Curtain” with delicate melodic passages that soothe the angular attack of the rhythm parts and countermelody the vocals. Marquee Moon manages to simultaneously evoke the influence of mediative acts such as the Velvet Underground and Talking Heads and the aggressive virtuosity and arranging skills of bands like the Allmans and Led Zeppelin. * * * * * 
- Dave Galens, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996….~

Tell those Strokes fans to listen to what is probably one of the most influential rock records: a sinuous, entrancing and gorgeous debut – the finest album of the class of CBGB’s 1977 – from the great American proto-punk outfit that embodied scruffy artiness of New York’s downtown scene. Plunge into the guitar nirvana of Richard Lloyd and unsung hero Tom Verlaine – it’s still enough to make any decent person’s eyes cross. * * * * * …- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003……~

Television were the least commercially successful major band to come out of the punk scene they helped to create at CBGB’s. However, their finest hour, Marquee Moon, was as good, if not better, than contemporary seminal works such as Patti Smith’s Horses (both of the albums sported a Robert Mapplethorpe front cover) and Talking Heads’ debut. 
After being shopped around to various labels, Television signed with Elektra in 1976 for their debut. The band was operating without original bassist Richard Hell, who left the group to start the Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunder. Bassist Fred Smith was a most fitting replacement, but his greatest contribution was in introducing Tom Verlaine to Andy Johns (Glyn Johns’ brother), who knew enough not to tinker with the blurry jazz-punk sound honed at CBGB’s. 
The result was a guitar album like no other. Turning away from the bluesy sound that had dominated rock guitar since the 1960s, Television created a work that in its own way is every bit as sweeping as Led Zeppelin’s finest offerings. Starting with the churning “See No Evil,” Verlaine and Richard Lloyd tangle their stinging leads into spiraling celebrations of urban grime and street culture. The 11-minute title track led some to draw comparisons with hippie bands, but there was no flower power – just power – to be found in “Prove It” and “Guiding Light.” 
Marquee Moon received a lukewarm response from the public but was hailed by critics, including New Musical Express’s Nick Kent, who enthused that “the songs are some of the greatest ever.” - Jim Harrington, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005…..~

I have to admit, Television wasn’t the band that got me into “Punk” rock. We all had our individual moments when that burning bush appeared. For me, it one night while pulling a night shift at a 7-11. At that time of night, I was allowed to play the store radio loud. “God Save The Queen” came over the air, and everything I’d read in the Rolling Stone and other mags about Punk suddenly came to life. 
To many of us, the various bands like the Ramones, Sex Pistols, and Clash had an almost magical connotation. One band, Television, was considered controversial. On one hand, Johnny Rotten had once praised the group, saying that he like the power of the guitars. After seeing them live (or so he said), he said they were awful, particularly because of the long extended numbers. 
Rotten’s offhand dismissal probably influential in England, and amongst certain elements of the punk crowd, but probably had little effect in New York and the states, other than Dave Marsh’s apparent puzzlement over Television’s high reputation. 
The Ramones were louder, the Pistols nastier, the Clash purer, Nick Lowe more clever, and Wire more violent, but Television was different. Television wasn’t a band you could easily copy like the others. There was a complexity in their musical textures that went against the grain of punk at the time. You couldn’t just pick up a guitar and play Marquee Moon like you could “12XU” by Wire. To me, they were the first “punk” band that made a truly new and original sound that was also on a high technical and aesthetic level. At a minimum, they were the most lyrical. 
Now, don’t get me wrong…I love the aforementioned bands. What I’m saying is that Television was DIFFERENT than anything I had heard before. The Pistols were really just super-fast Mott The Hoople (great band), Ramones a raunchy surf band, the Clash a raw pop-reggae band, Nick a great popster, and Wire…well, another bunch geniuses who took Punk higher, but later than Television. 
Without bands like Television (and Wire, actually), the main new thing those bands created was energy, a fresh outlook, and rebellion. Their anti-intellectualism guarenteed that there’d be nothing to build on, even later on when many tried to become more than just punk bands. 
Most artists are rarely inspired by “primitives” or “raw” art to create “new” music. Most may pick up a guitar to be like an Iggy, but that’s more of an embracing of a lifestyle and pose. When artists like Alex Chilton, Television, or Captain Beefheart create new styles and approaches, that tends to inspire musicians as artists. 
Edge, of U2, was once quoted as saying his early guitar practice was spent copying Tom Verlaine licks. U2 has managed to make a dent in the universe. Most of those who copied the Pistols now play music that’s about as alive and relevant as Leslie Gore at a rock and roll revival. Television inspired artists, hard core punk created a subculture of nostalgics (unless one considers Husker Du hard core, then we have an exception). 
In a sense, “Marquee Moon” was a record that almost never was. The original sessions produced by Eno were almost unlistenable, an amateurish mess. It was rerecorded but flawed in the sense that the mix by Andy Johns sometimes thinned out Verlaine’s voice so much it sounded like a flat screech at times, without any depth. 
However, the record, for all it’s flaws, did successfully capture the complexity of the sound, and still retain punch in the drum and guitar sound. Back then, those of us who were fans of the band probably didn’t notice such fine details in the sound and mix. 
What we all noticed, was from the moment “See No Evil” came pounding out of the speakers, this wasn’t no ordinary “punk” band. If it had come out as Johnny Rotten had described it, like “Grateful Dead” music, it would have been off our turntables in a second. Not that the Dead weren’t good, but what needed to come out of the speakers either had to be loud and fast, or different enough to compel one to listen anyway. 
It was probably somewhere in-between in a sense, but my first impression was that “See No Evil” was a great guitar song, with riffs and ideas that were different and freer than anything I’d heard. 
What made it sound so “free” (in the jazz sense) was the interplay between static, yet powerful guitar by Richard Lloyd, and the fluid ideas by Verlaine. More than fluid…the ideas seemed to go places where a trained musician could see Tom taking the chance of not being able to come back, and ending up at a with a botched solo. 
Instead, Verlaine seemed to resolve the ideas perfectly, yet never with the sheer ease of a Jerry Garcia. Many Verlaine solos, at first listen, made you feel that a real risk was being taken, and that if he didn’t come up with a killer idea out of nowhere, the riffs would just peter out, or noodle about and never resolve. 
It was more than raw talent, a sense of humor, or pure energy. Television had come up with a style that rocked, yet expressed a freedom found only in certain jazz styles. In a way, he was like a Parker (and I say that knowing what Parker was and is to many). 
This sound would only have been superb noodling without a truly great band. The rhythm section of Fred Smith on bass and Billy Ficca on drums was superb. They had a tight, syncopated sound, not unlike a good 50’s rhythm and blues band. They rarely overplayed on a song (in the studio, at least). 
The other guitarist, Richard Lloyd, was Verlaine’s equal in technical skill. He didn’t have Verlaine’s improvisational sense, but that wasn’t needed. Richard’s work verged on atonal or abstract noise at times, yet was played in controlled bursts and patterns. 
That tension in the guitar approaches is what made Television sound so different. Normally, the soloist is the one who explores atonality or whatever. Verlaine generally flew all over the place, but in a lyrical or linear sense. The element that made them “different” as a band was Lloyd’s tonality and rhythm guitar sense, which often led to very hard edged riffs and chordings that were abstract in nature. 
In other words, normally the soloist is the one who needs to be anchored. In Televison’s case, Lloyd was the guitarist who affected the tonality of the music more often than not, and Verlaine and the rhythm section the ones who gave the ear it’s anchor and familiar musical elements. Listen only to Lloyd, and you can hear some truly off the wall ideas being played. 
In “See No Evil,” Lloyd is soaring in the solos, but the guts of the arrangement is in the tough riffing underneath that is driving the song forward, with powerful rhythm section support. It’s no wonder R.E.M. sometimes does this song as an encore, it’s a classic guitar rock song. 
“Venus” comes next, and is one of the most lyrical in the set. It opens with a great guitar riff, and as the ballad moves along, one can hear incredibly complex and interesting ideas on both guitars that make perfect sense together (yet sound disjointed when listened to individually). 
The Venus referred to is of DeMilo fame, and does show us that detached, abstract view Verlaine often had, as opposed to a purely personal one. On the other hand, I wonder if it was really just so personal as to be idiosyncratic to one person only. In any case, an armless statue with a boob showing isn’t your typical romantic image. 
“Friction” opens with uptempo, yet static guitar chord opening by Lloyd that sounds like a Stone’s riff played backwards. Verlaine kicks in with a decending chromatic riff, and the rhythm section chugs along with a beat that older fans might recognize as similiar to Wilson Picket’s “Funky Broadway.” 
Next comes “Marquee Moon,” a nine minute encapsulation of the group sound; a great Verlaine chord opening on rhythm guitar, looping riffs out of left field by Lloyd (doing double-stop trills), and a funky, rocking bass and drum part that lead into the song. It then builds and builds, and Verlaine begins to solo up into the upper neck of the guitar. More than a few times you wonder if even he knows where it’s all going. It finally resolves into a Stones-like chord burst (actually not unlike a good Dead jam number), then settles into a lyrical, atmospheric section. Smith and Ficca then lead us back into a reprise of the main melody. 
In my mind, it is perfect song in terms of capturing all that the band was. Believe me, it sounded REAL good blasting out of these huge PA speakers at the Mabuhay the night I heard it for the first time. 
“Elevation” follows next, and was originally the first song on the second side of the album. On CD, it’s impact is diminished following “Moon.” It’s the most “dramatic” of the songs, with a lot of stops and starts, and sections built on unison riffs. It remains listenable, but it’s ymore interesting than compelling. 
“Guiding Light,” is the opposite. When I first heard the song, it seemed like mere pleasantry, a nice album filler. These days it sounds more and more like a great ballad, with a Dylanesque sense of timing and structure. Back then, I guess I just was too rushed and intense to appreciate this one. Now, it’s a rediscovered pleasure. 
“Prove It,” follows, and at first listen sounds like a reggae-ish type new wave cut (common enough at the time). Time has revealed it to be actually quite different, and the opening guitar figure is actually more fifties than reggae. It chugs along like a good-bad Clash song, and the song has stood up well over the years. 
The CD ends with “Torn Curtain,” a dark, listless ballad in the “Tin Pan Alley” mold. It’s too overdramatic at times, and although well played, it’s no longer the strong ending cut it once seemed to be. 
Back in the late 70’s, very few Punks had any real idea of what the music would seem like a few years. Most simply wanted to put a 45 and become rock stars (oh, yes they did). A few approached the whole era as an opportunity to create new music, and only the most obtuse won’t see that the bands who most influenced the next generation of rich and arrogant rock stars were bands like Television, Wire, and the Clash. 
Why? Well, I can only give a personal example. Two major influences made me PLAY Punk music at the time; the Ramones and Sex Pistols. The idea was that you just do it. Don’t spend years learning it, just do it. 
I figured seeing the Sex Pistols at Winterland (which turned out to be their last gig) would be sort of a revelation. As I anxiously stood in line for that “sell-out” concert, the scalpers were selling tickets for only two dollars each, with price dropping to one by show time. 
Inside Winterland, the audience was mainly tourists and curiousity seekers. Most spent the concert making wise cracks, and laughing at the freak show in what is now called a mosh pit. Two local bands, the Nuns and the Avengers did their usual show (which rarely changed even a single note), and then the Pistols came on and trashed the place. 
They played without a bass player, as Sid was too drunk to play and was mixed down (on the bootleg, he can be heard and it totally wrecks the music), but the rest was as good as any Who concert. Rotten even stopped to pick up some money that was thrown on the stage, then did the encore laying on his stomach, singing Iggy’s “No Fun,” in the most mimimal performance I’ve ever heard. This continued backstage, where they all trashed the dressing rooms, and Bill Graham wouldn’t book a punk act for some years. 
The point? Well, what the Pistols started died exactly when Rotten said it would, after one record. Their message was anger, honesty (relative to the music business at the time), and anti-intellectualism that unfortunately included any concept of art. Those who buy that message still listen to hard core which is more rigid in it’s values than any blues or jazz you’ll ever hear. The Pistols never took them any further. In their last gig, they ensured punk would never get into a major Bay Area venue for some years. 
Then take “Marquee Moon.” Just hearing that album gave me, and quite a few others a totally different message; that the music of the era had changed, and although not so apparent at the time, restored a sense of discovery and freedom that had long disappeared. 
I once read that Alex Chilton’s “Big Star” record only sold a few copies, but each one of those who bought one went out and formed a band. I doubt Television was like that, they were too hard to imitate for one thing. The Bangles could cover “September Gurls,” maybe, but never “Marquee Moon.” 
What they did do was show us that, perhaps for at least one moment, that there could be something new under the sun after all. And, I should add, it couldn’t have come at a better time…..By Al Handa….~ 
 Widely considered one of rock’s most auspicious debuts, the critically acclaimed Marquee Moon now features an additional 30-plus minutes of music! Marquee Moon’s five bonus cuts includ four previously unreleased tracks- alternate versions fo signature songs “See No Evil”, “Friction,” and “Maruquee Moon,” plus an untitled instrumental. Marquee Moon includes the full length version of “Little Johnny Jewel” on CD for the first time in it’s entirety. …..~
New York’s 1970s punk was markedly different to that of Britain. Rather than reject the past, American groups deconstructed its forms and rebuilt them with recourse to the music’s strengths. 
Television’s leader, Tom Verlaine, professed admiration for Moby Grape and the folk rock of early Fairport Convention. Elements of the latter appear on this album’s title track, which offers a thrilling instrumental break, built upon a modal scale. Verlaine’s shimmering guitar style provides the set’s focus, but his angular compositions are always enthralling. a sense of brooding mystery envelops the proceedings, and Marquee Moon retains its standing as one of the era’s pivotal releases……~ 
  There is no need to argue the importance of Television’s debut album, Marquee Moon. Anyone with a remote interest in punk rock, the modern day garage revival or just straight-ahead no frills rock and roll needs Marquee Moon in their album collection. The jaded yet somehow impassioned cynicism of Tom Verlaine’s vocals and Romantic poetry inspired lyrics have become the model for a whole army of modern day New York bands. A quick look at M2’s Subterranean will show that the rock quasi-underground of today would not exist without Television. The sparkling clean and precise guitars of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd manage to imbue a simplicity and directness to their multi-part songs and epic solos, allowing the band to preserve their punk spirit while pursuing a thoroughly un-punk muse. The underrated rhythm section of Fred Smith and Billy Ficca played with a precise syncopation that influenced the arrival of countless post-punk and new wave acts. Television, it seems, were pretty much exactly 25 years ahead of their time. Rhino’s decision to reissue this landmark album in 2003 is a smart financial decision, but does there need to be a new edition of Marquee Moon? 

The main selling point of this particular remaster is not the uninspired liner notes or the underwhelming bonus tracks, but rather the updated sound. More than any other album associated with the '70s punk scene, Marquee Moon demands immaculate sound quality. The most notable feature about Television’s sound was how clean and sharp the music sounded. Rather than burying their songs in effects and distortion, Lloyd and Verlaine strove for a return to the “ringing-a-bell” sound of Chuck Berry. Where most post-Hendrix guitarists went for the big effect, Verlaine and Lloyd, on rockers like “Friction” and “See No Evil”, produce sounds that are precise and razor-sharp, like tiny pins. Because of this dedication to simplification, the two guitarists never step on each other’s toes, complimenting each other rather than overlapping into bombast. While the original CD remaster of Marquee Moon was not an embarrassment, the Rhino remaster has given the best possible sound to this great album. 

Take for instance how the remaster cleans up the title song. Television’s finest moment, the song “Marquee Moon” is a triumph, a ten-minute epic of Romantic brooding that feels as concise as a three-minute pop song, yet is as powerfully evocative as a symphony. A ten-minute song, with poetry for lyrics, an extended instrumental section, and plenty of soloing hardly seems the fare for a “punk” album. What makes the song “punk” is how Television manage not to waste a single second with self-indulgence. From its gripping cinematic opening to the climactic orgasm of heavenly guitar squeaks that would awe even Kevin Shields, every single element of the song builds upon the previous part. Television were never a jam band, and even the solos just propel the song to its irresistible climax. “Marquee Moon” works like precise clockwork, with each instrumental section pushing the next part along. With the new polished sound, the drama of “Marquee Moon” becomes starker, and the moment where the heavenly music stops and the song steps back from the sonic excess of the climax and settles back to the simple opening groove becomes even more bewitching. 

If you already own the album, and are content with the old mastering job enough not to feel pressured into shelling out 17 bucks or so for the new edition, the bonus tracks will do little to entice you. The single version of “Little Johnny Jewel Pts. 1 & 2” is issued on CD for the first time. Hardcore Television fans highlight this strange tune as Television’s finest hour, but its toy-box of squeals and bangs is not equal to the rousing emotional epics of the album proper. The alternate versions of “See No Evil”, “Friction”, and “Marquee Moon” are very similar to the original versions, with only a slightly rougher sound and different solos to distinguish them from the album versions (although a step above the “alternate mix” phenomenon that is plaguing modern day reissues). In a bit of a cop out, the concluding surf-inspired “Untitled Instrumental” is actually an out-take from the Adventure sessions. The hardcore fan, hungry for any unreleased Television material, of course will need all of this, but it is the cleaned-up sound that makes this reissue a godsend for those who have put off buying the original master. And those who have already bought the original, and refuse to buy the album again, don’t beat yourself up. In ten years or so, during the next New York rock revival, the new “new and improved” Marquee Moon will inevitably pop up on DVD-Audio. Until then, this is the definitive version of a definitive album…..by…Hunter Felt…pop matters….~ 


Credits 

Bass, Vocals – Fred Smith 
Drums – Billy Ficca 
Guitar [Guitar Solo After The Second Chorus] – Richard* (tracks: A4) 
Guitar [Guitar Solo After The Third Chorus] – Tom* (tracks: A4) 
Guitar [Guitar Solos] – Richard* (tracks: A1, B1, B2), Tom* (tracks: A2, A3, B3, B4) 
Guitar, Vocals – Richard Lloyd 
Keyboards – Tom* 
Lead Vocals, Guitar – Tom Verlaine 


Tracklist 
See No Evil 3:56 
Venus 3:48 
Friction 4:43 
Marquee Moon 9:58 
Elevation 5:08 
Guiding Light 5:36 
Prove It 5:04 
Torn Curtain 7:00 

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