Over the last few months, I’ve been dying to have an excuse to review something a little more up my alley. Tiny Mix Tapes tries its best to keep you (the reader) up to date with the latest in independent and subterranean music, but the 2003 reissues of the classic studio releases from Television are something too big to ignore. In all fairness to the financially-strapped listener, these reissues aren’t essential in regards to sound quality. However, it’s been over twenty-five years since Marquee Moon’s debut, and any excuse to reintroduce yourself with this legendary band is well worth taking.
When one thinks of the band Television, you can’t help but think of their flawless debut, Marquee Moon. The sound of a young New York City bursting with creativity and energy, the first artifact that captured two genius guitarists together in a symbiotic relationship that has rarely been duplicated in the course of fifty years of rock and roll; Marquee Moon is a perfect album. Released in 1977, Marquee Moon was actually the result of nearly three years of recording and playing live together. The dueling guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd explode on nearly every one of the eight original tracks. Implementing elements of jazz guitar, intertwining notes and solos, and mixing them with the inventive, Velvets-inspired songs of Verlaine, Marquee Moon is one of those albums that was just more than the sum of its parts.
The remastered version contains extensive liner notes and five bonus tracks, including three rather similar versions of “See No Evil,” “Friction,” and “Marquee Moon.” The single that introduced Television to the world, “Little Johnny Jewel,” is included here in its entirety; however, the track finds the band without the confidence or quality of songwriting that they would master on the original album.
I imagine I’m not alone in my sadness that Television burned out so quickly. Following an album such as Marquee Moon isn’t just what the term ‘sophomore slump’ was created for, but Adventure pales in nearly every way in comparison to its predecessor. Released one year after Marquee Moon, the songs were much weaker, the recording much flatter, and, according to most rock historians, it was the sound of a band aiming for AOR acceptance. Besides some typically inventive guitar interludes on “Foxhole” and “Glory,” songs like “Careful” and “Days” are tepid 70s clunkers that sound like they are from a completely different band. That’s a common reaction to Adventure. Already dealing with band member turmoil and possibly just a star that burned too bright too fast, Adventure is hard even for even the completist to enjoy.
While the remastered sound of these reissues is not radically improved upon and may not be worth the price of upgrading, the liner notes and packaging make this an enjoyable treat for most fans. And it's the perfect time for newcomers to discover this important group of artists. Marquee Moon:
1. See No Evil
4. Marquee Moon
6. Guiding Light
7. Prove It
8. Torn Curtain
9. Little Johnny Jewel, Pt. 1 & 2
10. See No Evil
12. Marquee Moon
5. Carried Away
6. The Fire
7. Ain't That Nothin'
8. The Dream's Dream
10. Ain't That Nothin'