Adventure (Television) – Album Review

"Adventure" Was Released In 1978, Little Less Than A Year After Television's Debut "Marquee Moon" Had Been Released

"Adventure" Was Issued In 1978, Little Less Than A Year After Television's Debut "Marquee Moon" Had Been Released

A “Marquee Moon petit”. That is the best way to describe Television’s second LP. It was issued in 1978, and it was to be their final release for almost two decades as they disbanded some time after the record had hit the shelves.

Obviously, Marquee Moon was a hard act to follow. You must remember that the songs which were recorded for the debut had germinated over three years of live performances, and that alone gave them a crisper edge when placed against the songs on Adventure. Those were written in a very limited lapse, but at least the band exploited the bigger budget they had the second time around.

In many cases, they slowed down the tempos and came up with songs that ended sounding a little trippy. The most obvious examples are the cuts “Carried Away” and “The Fire”. The former has a sort of lulling melody that mirrors the marine themes and motifs of the lyrics in a manner not really dissimilar to that in which Yeats’ “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree” lulls you over with its vocal rhythm.

On the other hand, “The Fire” has Verlaine playing a slide part in which he uses a knife instead of a bottleneck to quite good effect. The song also has the best set of lyrics on the whole album – it must have helped that Tom picked the standout verses from over twenty he claimed he had penned. Continue reading

Marquee Moon (Television) – Album Review

"Marquee Moon" Is Often Deemed As One Of The Best Debuts In History

"Marquee Moon" Is Often Deemed As One Of The Best Debuts In History

“I can think of many ways to silence somebody who questions the creativity at play at the tail end of the ‘70s. However, the most resounding and unforgettable one is spinning Marquee Moon. The record holds such an intricacy and an intellectual depth that it won’t come across as an act of defiance to the one who claimed otherwise. Any song on the album makes it clear what happens when imagination meets expressivity. It is art that closes every distance which could separate a music lover from another. And I think it is the most beautiful musical testament from the year 1977. Of course, other bands left marks which might be more noticeable and (in certain senses and places) more compelling and far, far more enjoyable. But still waters run deep. And will do so forever.”

That is what I wrote yesterday about “Marquee Moon”, when I was introducing Television and I tried to explain the actual transcendence of the band. That single paragraph says everything that could be said about one of the most precious debuts in history. I don’t know what could be added to it, but common sense and fairness dictate making at least a brief mention of the tracks to be found therein.

The record starts with the alert “See No Evil” and closes 45 minutes later with “Torn Curtain”. In that lapse of time you partake in the most delirious guitar crossfire you can probably listen to anyplace. The title track is of course the better-known example (it was released as a single in an edited version), but songs like “Friction”, “Elevation” and “Prove It” act as equally forceful and exquisite reminders of the interplay which characterized the band. And the closing number has one of the most satisfying moments I have ever found on record. I am talking about the final verse, in which the guitar doubles the voice and the notes eerily extend each syllable that is pronounced. It is a gorgeous moment, and the strongest gesture in which to close an album that was to redefine aural foregrounds and backgrounds  in rock and roll for ever. Continue reading

Television – General Introduction

Televison Was Conformed By Fred Smit, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd & Billy Ficca

Televison Was Conformed By Fred Smith, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd & Billy Ficca

I think the late ‘70s were the final stronghold of true creativity in the history of music. And to me, few bands encapsulate that brilliance of thought and execution like Television.

The band was formed by two guitar players who had poetic aspirations. They went by the names of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. The two friends had a real connection that time and again would let them elaborate intertwined guitar parts in which both instruments were playing a recognizable lead. They were to be backed by drummer Bill Ficca and bassist Fred Smith. And in addition to being the principal tunesmith, Verlaine was also going to assume lead vocal duties.

Despite being one of the first bands to gain notoriety for its live shows within the pre-punk American scene, Television was to be one of the latest to release an album. When it did finally materialize, though, it was worth the wait. “Marquee Moon” included the incendiary live track and seven other songs that were to act as a blueprint to many of the most successful bands of the ‘80s and beyond. Their second album (“Adventure”) followed shortly, and it showed a more experimental side to them. It was deemed as a good album, but the first one was (and is) held in more esteem. However, neither album met with strong sales in the United States, and Television disbanded after touring to promote “Adventure”. Continue reading