I was hearing... hearing something else...
Laszlo Matyas | 07/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Side One is astonishing; It offers up an avalanche of gnarly, glistening urban psychedelic punk, with guitars that gurgle, froth, tangle, giggle, and swoon under the Highway 61 revisiting vocals of Tom Verlaine. The only real chore is picking out a favorite, what with all four tacks one-upping each other with such relentlessness and valor. Sometimes I imagine that "See No Evil," with its intertwining melodies locked into one gleaming fist of sound, has won me over, but then "Venus" comes sighing into view and wipes my mind clean with the cracked beauty of its chorus. "Friction" tears off in the other direction, with Verlaine's bitterness sounding every bit as endearing as his dream-speak. And then the title track comes on, and I'm in another (vastly superior) world for ten minutes.
Side Two slow-plays you; It's not as immediately satisfying or as memorable as the first half of Marquee Moon, but it gets better and better with successive listens. Here, it's all about fluttering guitar pop, with guitars that skip and stumble. "Prove It" is every bit as gorgeous and enchanting as the stuff on side one, and what a great vocal! "Torn Curtain" offsets its dull, dirging verses with the hypnotic soulmelt of its chorus. "Elevation" and "Guiding Light" are stuffed with pretty little moments.
A damn good album, then. Get it, and be sure to get the reissue with all the bonus tracks, so you can have the way-cool "Little Johnny Jewel" single."
Sophisticated/alternative pop/rock. Arty, not really punk.
dfle3 | Australia | 10/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
Came across this band when discussion punk online. Somebody recommended this album, and I saw them listed on Australian Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 essential albums, from a few years back. Two positive recommendations in other words, and since I've lately been exploring punk, I thought I'd check it out. Have to say that I really struggle to see how this band/album get viewed as punk. Being cynical, I'd have to say that the bar is set very low for being labelled "punk"...I'm guessing that playing at the music venue "CBGB's" would suffice, sadly. Anyway, if you are buying this album expecting to hear some pioneering punk, I think you will be annoyed. Being kind, the vocals are mildly/vaguely punk in style. Don't really listen to any progressive forms of rock, but I think this album may qualify. Or maybe you could it, ironically, "post-punk" music. Why ironically? Because it was released in the year that punk exploded around the world, with The Sex Pistols and, earlier, The Damned, The Saints, Radio Birdman and The Ramones, of course. Television seems post-punk before punk had even really started!
What to expect: mildly punk vocals, simple complexity of sound, alternative type pop/rock, wordy lyrics, squiggly melodies and simple riffs. Lyrics are poetic and literate for the most part. Songs can be epic pop/rock constructions, and you get a dual lead guitar formation. The cd has a crisp sound and the music is mostly mid-tempo. If this is really punk, it is of a bohemian sort. Vocals are strangled at times, but I do have to say that I found the drumming on the album interesting, as were the guitar work, which got varied. Initially, on first listen, I was looking to score this album 65/100, but on second listen I liked it better, so am giving it 70/100.
Torn curtain - the lushest song on the cd and slightly gothic too. Runs 7 minutes long. Occasionally the guitar sounds like a distressed kitten, and the piano features as well.
Next best songs:
Guiding light - a mellow track with melodic lead guitar notes. Bassy, piano features. Pleasant track.
Little Johnny Jewel - the guitar sounds strangled in this track...highly tunes, perhaps, though I don't play any instruments. 7:09 running time. Quite jazzy at times. Has some of those poetic style lyrics I mentioned before. Has a nice guitar solo.
See no evil - has an AC/DC style mini-riff and Kylie Minogue's song "Clever girl" (I think that is the name of the song) is also brought to mind. The other riff in the song brings to mind the kind of stuff Thin Lizzy does. For some, this dual guitar thing could be catchy. One of the guitars sounds 'throaty' and the other guitar has a circular thing going. In this opening track, the vocals sound a bit punk, and there is a not bad guitar solo in this song. Sound quality very good.
Venus - there's a harpsichord kind of sound on this song and I'm not sure if it's not created by a guitar, somehow. The lead guitar has notes that ring out. A wordy song with a nice mini-melody to it.
Friction - a bassy track which brings to mind Australian band The Ferrets' song "Don't fall in love" as far as the guitar bit in the intro and throughout goes. Drum solo outro, and vocally Television do to the word "diction" what The Sex Pistols do with the word "problem" or "vacant" in two of their songs from their debut album. I.e. make the word strange and sort of obscene!
Marquee moon - one of those songs with a squiggly lead guitar lick, which bookends the song. Runs at 10:47. The intro notes reminded me of Joan Armatrading's classic song "Me myself I". There is a simple rhythm guitar, and bass is noticeable. The middle part of the song is mostly an instrumental, with a 3 minute guitar solo in it. One part of the song is similar is Led Zeppelin's classic "Kashmir".
Elevation - bassy, nice note picking on the guitar (which has a nice tone to it) . The guitar's tone and melody, at times, puts in mind "The break up song" by The Greg Kihn Band. Think my notes are saying that this song also has a guitar sound like a yowing cat, but tweaked or something (old notes, been a while since I listened to the album).
Prove it - nice bass guitar intro, 1960's style guitar lick...seems familiar, but I just can't place it. I like the drumming and the tone of the drums in this song.
See no evil - has a Thin Lizzy rhythm to it. Don't listen to Thin Lizzy, but they may have been another band with a dual lead guitar set up.
The cd I have has got a few bonus tracks on it. There are variations on three of the tracks on the original album, "Friction", "Marquee moon" and "See no evil", as well as an untitled instrumental. "Little Johnny Jewel" is the last bonus track on this cd. The bonus track version of "Marquee moon" also has a good guitar solo to it, but it runs around half a minute longer than the original version. As for "Untitled instrumental", well, it has a driving bass guitar and solid drumming. It gives a nod to 1960's surf rock and has a vaguely Shadows style lead guitar. The rhythm guitar has that surf sound to it and it sometimes gives a wink to that famous guitar effect of a breaking wave sound. Not sure which song first introduced that..."Wipe out"?
Radio Birdman - Radios appear. Australian pioneers of punk. This album came out around the same time as Marquee Moon. If Television really were punk, they might sound like Radio Birdman. Some of their tracks are nice and pleasant too...a bit jazzy.
Patti Smith - Horses. Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten called this album "Horseshytte". Not very punk. Like Television, Smith is arty and literate. Probably called punk because she performed at CBGBs too...as did Blondie.
The Stooges - Fun house. The second half of that album is quite jazzy, noisy.
The Velvet Underground - either their 1st album (with Nico), or their self-titled 3rd. They also do 'pleasant' well."
Thought I knew something about music until I heard this
Jon Quixote | Tucson, Arizona | 01/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm going to guess some of you are like me: I've long admired The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, and Joy Division, but at the height of the punk movement I was too young to know about it, so I've had to learn about it after the fact. I've read a few books about those acts and that era, and have browsed many others. Thus, I've seen plenty mentions of Television, but nothing prompted me try to hear them until a few weeks ago.
If your experience is similar, you should order MARQUEE MOON right now. I think my life might have unfolded much differently if one of those books had more urgently stressed the greatness of Television. I regret that this wasn't a part of my life the last 20 years, when it so easily could have been. I'm dusting off my guitar, because this has inspired me to play like nothing else.
Just incredible. Television, you are amazing, and I really hope I can have another lifetime where I can see you guys in action.
Also, Television isn't really "punk." Maybe that's why the books about punk didn't succeed at opening my eyes. Television are their own category."