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.
The singles were to be “Ain’t That Nothing” in the US, and “Foxhole” and “Glory” in the UK. The album was to chart higher than its predecessor in England, while in the States it fared worse than Marquee Moon, leading to the band’s dissolution shortly after.
“Foxhole” was actually a leftover from their early sets, and the one song from that time which did not make it into the debut. It also stands today as one of the few songs of theirs from which an original performance is available in YouTube, and that is the clip I want to share with you now:
I think you can see clearly why I think Adventure can be sort of termed a “petit Marquee Moon”. The song is not without charm, but the ones found on Marquee Moon had more than that – they had a certain uniqueness. The ones found here show us a side of the band that is somehow gentler, and certainly more pop-happy. That can be said about “Careful” and the singles “Glory” and “Ain’t That Nothing”, although “Glory” has one the best guitar interplays on the whole disc along with the final number, “The Dream’s Dream”. That composition aims to be the “Marquee Moon” of the record, and (again) the “petit” label seems to fit it best. It is not unfulfilling in any sense, and if we didn’t have the former track to draw a comparison it would certainly merit a lot of praise.
That is the lasting impression you are left with, ultimately. Adventure is a good disc, but the previous one was so radical that it doesn’t have a true chance to upstage it. I must mention that Adventure was the first album by them I could get my hands on. Only a considerable time after having listened to it did I manage to find the debut. And I must tell you that only after I had listened to the debut did I really enjoy Adventure. One reads so much about the band and its sound being so distinctive that hopes are invariably high. Adventure does not live up to that reputation. Marquee Moon does. And while Adventure needs Marquee Moon as its point of reference, it doesn’t work the other way around. I think it is impossible for anyone to absolutely adore Adventure. He might really enjoy it, though. And that likelihood is increased if he had given Marquee Moon a spin or two before.