Marquee Moon (1977)
Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine’s guitars have always been a huge turn-on for me for the simple fact they force you to listen. They’re so hectic and hectoring but don’t distract you from Tom Verlaine’s vocal extremities, more enhance them. Some hate that.
The “avant-garde” lyrics of New York life and culture don’t really matter. Marquee Moon is very urgent, feels like it has to be somewhere in a hurry and when it doesn’t it still kind of feels like it does. That makes sense in my head. The riffs are so meticulously intricate yet from the gut, they sound like nothing yet everything – new, fresh and vibrant but something you could pick up and perform yourself. Case in point Verlaine’s solo in “Prove It”.
The production is stellar, too; a band that’s hailed for its live performances (back then) the sound transcends nicely onto record.
People always seem to disregard this because the frantic playing of Marquee Moon is [only] somewhat relinquished. I prefer the riffs and the lyrics seem more transparent, though still as wacky. Verlaine’s tone is still that of the lost child in the shopping centre whinging for his mother to return, and that’s good.
“Foxhole” has always been my favourite Television track – the marching, forward-moving riff is met by Verlaine’s distorted destruction, a perfect combination. The lyrical quotes in this record are quite touching and philosophically post-modern for the time, if you’d like to go there, “We leaned in the cold, holding our breath, watching the corners turn corners”.
Adventure allows you to take a step – and more – back and absorb the playing more. You think you notice enough with the debut but you don’t, you get caught up in the rush of what is a brilliant piece. These guys are technical as well as visceral.
Television never sounded like anything other than Television, even in 1992. This is post-punk yet not post-punk, jangle pop of the obstreperous type, some sort of anti-Jesus country, but still uncontrollably them.
I laughed at Tom Verlaine again, not just because of his anxious vocal palpitations but the content of the palpitations were funny too, unlike the opaque nature of the previous two album’s content. Just check out “Rhyme” and “Mars”.
I almost find this as musical and as seductive as their “magnum opus” and such; it possesses as much of the whirlwind fanaticism but with a little more congeniality to each note flowing from the guitars. More of their influences (and what they’ve influenced) have been carried through on this record.