February 19, 2006

Television: Marquee Moon

I own the first two Television albums--Marquee Moon and Adventure--on vinyl no less. I guess this certifies me as a Television fan. I rarely make any allusions as to my age, but I will make an exception and say I bought these two albums when they came out, way back when. That I still rank these as two of my favourite all time albums, isn't an affirmation of my amazing taste in music (although I like to think that it is) , as much as confirmation that Television was one of the most talented and underrated bands of the late 70's.

All along the one Television song that remains my favourite, the one I would find myself putting on mix tapes or CDs, is Marquee Moon's title track - which sprawls across the end of side one for just over 10 minutes. It opens with the central guitar figure of the song--Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd picking it out. The beating heart bass slips in a tad before the drums stumble into this strange nightscape set against a leafy tree-branched sky. At around the six minute mark the guitars weaving together become more than the sum of their parts - until they suddenly clamber over and upon each other - their notes like praying mantids in a now leafless tree. Then the tension is released with Tom Verlaine's plucked guitar notes blossoming like midnight flowers--to be reunited with the jazz tinged drumming cracking upon the leaf covered ground. And all along Verlaine's deaf man's voice rises--asking questions while knowing the answers. This is a perfect example of the bands's dual guitar lyricism, positive then negative, pushing and then pulling each other, and the song, along.

It' a song and an album well worth seeking out. Marquee Moon is, simply put, a classic that still sounds fresh today. And with recent reissues of both (with alternate takes of some songs) you shouldn't have much trouble getting your hands on a copy.


*LIMITED Downloads*

From Marquee Moon [1977]...
+ marquee moon
+ see no evil
+ prove it

From Adventure [1978]...
+ foxhole
+ carried away
+ ain't that nothin'


  1. Excellent! Thanks for spotlighting this fantastic band. The first recording is untainted, a classic. Brilliant choice!

  2. I should have added that I also love the cover art of Marquee Moon. Beautiful in it's simplicity.

  3. Anonymous1:12:00 PM

    good to these again. I lent MM to a collaegue a few years ago & never saw it again. Any chance of venus de milo?

  4. djgordy3:56:00 PM

    'Marquee Moon' is one of the greatest albums ever. 'Adventure' by way of contrast, isn't. One of the worst follow-ups that has ever been released.

  5. Adventure is a very solid album and not by a long shot one of the worst follow-ups that has ever been released. But if we go by DJGordy's hyperbole... "one of the greatest albums ever", then just about 'any', and 'every'thing else would pale by comparision.

    Marquee Moon is a great album, but it is not one of the greatest albums ever, as Adventure isn't one of the worst follow-ups.

  6. yknow, i heard the dreams dream awhile back - it was great - i thought oh, thats where modest mouse got it.

    made sense at the time.

  7. i highly disagree that Adventure is one of the worst follow-up albums...It doesn't get off to a good start, with Glory and Days, (which both veer quite a bit from the standards of Marquee Moon) but the rest of the album is marvelous, and more whimsical than its predecessor. If Marquee Moon never existed, I do believe Adventure would still be talked about and discussed as a major influence of our time.

  8. ANONYMOUS - i have posted VENUS just for you... in SIXPACK 176


  9. Anonymous1:09:00 AM

    You know, I'm tired of people cracking on Adventure. It's a very solid album. Marquee Moon is very outward in its excellence, while Adventure is a bit more sedate and refined. It takes time to appreciate. It must've taken me 20 listens to realize how perfectly put together Days is. And I do agree with Chris that had Marquee Moon not been released, Adventure would have its own little cult saying how great it is.

  10. Anonymous1:27:00 AM

    Verlaine's solo album FLASHLIGHT is also a really special piece of work. "One Time at Sundown" and "Song" especially.

  11. Alan, thanks for venus.

    anonymous 1 aka jon.

  12. Anonymous Jon - you're welcome.

  13. Yeah. I learned to play guitar listening to my Television vinyl. Here's my bands humble version of Friction from Marquee Moon:


    Or on this page.

    And if you haven't seen it, check out this 1978 Television video on youtube, it's
    very cool:

    The Jennifers, Baltimore

  14. Adventure is nowhere near as bad as some of its critics say, but it is a subtly different sound than Marquee Moon. Some of that has to do with the producer, Jansen; some of that has to do with the songwriting, which smoothes out some of the jagged edges of Marquee Moon and replaces tougher numbers like "See No Evil" with smoother ones like "Careful." Not all of it works, but it's still a great record, and doesn't diminish from the band's legacy.

    However, their self-titled followup album, released in 1992, is the one that has gotten the least recognition and is probably the most surprising in their catalog. They sound relaxed, tight, together; the songs are quite different from anything on the first two records, but are still recognizably their own, and the guitar interplay is as phenomenal as ever. I highly, highly recommend this album to anyone who likes either of the first two.

    Me? I'm just a fan with too much time on his hands.