Joup’s Friday Album (ahem): Television Marquee Moon

Television Marquee Moon

Television – Marquee Moon

New York cool comes in many shapes, forms, visions and wavelengths. Especially in the 1970’s. Take Scorsese’s Mean Streets or Taxi Driver. Or maybe The French Connection? Perhaps Lou Reed post Velvet Underground? Maybe the New York Dolls in some fashion way. And OF COURSE there is The Ramones and CBGB’s. I mean come on, of course. And then speaking of CBGB’s we have a oft forgotten group by the name of Television and their debut album Marquee Moon. Our Friday and weekend artist as they are appearing at Chicago’s Riot Fest and Sunday night at the Bottom Lounge which I am attending.

The first time I heard Television was after a sound check at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen back in 2002. Bakes, Sonny, Jeremy and I had just got off the stage for a sound check before our up coming show as The Yellow House. The sound man spun Marquee Moon and on came “See No Evil.” I honestly had not heard anything like it and immediately asked him who they were. A smirk came across is face and answered: “Television. I thought you guys might know them.” Embarrassingly I mumbled “no” but continued to listen. I have to imagine that was a compliment in some way, humbly looking back on it. Then “Venus” followed and I knew these guys were cooler then cool. I bought Marquee Moon shortly there after and it is still on my rotation of music on my phone.

Speaking of “Venus”…it’s just so diligent in some way. And sincere. Probably because of the rhythm of the drums and guitar. Man, the guitar play between Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine is just superb…throughout the whole album. Again this is seen on Track 3 “Friction” and the title track “Marquee Moon.” There is such attitude in both these tunes as well. It really is New York cool.

Television was founded by bassist Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine after there initial project Neon Boys split up. They added Lloyd on second guitar and kept Billy Ficca on drums. They built their cult following in THE places of places: CBGB’s BEFORE anyone else had. Their first gig their: March 2. 1974…before I was even born (ahem) by six months. Now that is cooler then cool.

Hell left the band in 1975 because of creative differences and went on to form The Heartbreakers (different then Tom Petty’s group). Out of that they added Fred Smith (who also had a short stint w Blondie) and then you have the group that created Marquee Moon. And wow you talk about a debut…forget about it. Listen to Ficca’s drums as they come back in on at the 9th minute of “Marquee Moon.” Unreal precision and recording quality.

Follow that with “Elevation” and you can see how this group (especially Llyod’s guitar tone here) influence so many guitarist of the 1980’s and new wave in general. The down-tempo “Guiding Light” gracefully drags in fine Velvet Underground fashion, only to revel in elation of a fine piano accompaniment. “Prove It” brings back a nice grove with, at times abrupt fills and leads but they are most certainly welcome. The album closes with a “Torn Curtain.” and with it a sort of dissident melodrama fitting for the end. The tune is a great retrospect.

It’s only of recent years that Marquee Moon has gotten the respect it deserves. In 2000 VH1 ranked the album at 83 on the top 100 rock albums and in 2003 Rolling Stone listed the album at 128 out of the top 500 albums of all time. Some impressive company there.

Richard Lloyd has since left the band and has been replaced by Jimmy Rip. They reformed again from 1992-93 and again in 2001 to present time doing various gigs through the years. They are playing Riot Fest in Chicago on Saturday and Bottom Lounge on Sunday night which I will attend. Word on the street is that they still got it but somehow it’s not the same without Lloyd. I’ll just have to be the judge of that later. Look for a follow up review.

And without further adieu…Marquee Moon. Download it or better yet get a vinyl copy. Yeah do that. Television on vinyl is always cooler.

Chester, your honors again. Pick us a winner as usual.

Joe Grez

Joe Grez

Joe Grzesik (JGrez) is still an artist developer trying to keep up with new technologies. Photography still has been one of his strongest passions. However, now his main focus has led him back to music where he teaches guitar, piano, saxophone and percussion privately. Music education can never be short changed.

One Response to Joup’s Friday Album (ahem): Television Marquee Moon
  1. Tommy Reply

    One of my favorite records ever!

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