TELEVISION – ” Marquee Moon ” Released 8th February 1977

Posted: February 11, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,

Television, St.Marks Place NYC 1977 L to R: Billy Ficca, Tom Verlaine, Fred Smith, Richard Lloyd

Released on February 8th in 1977: New York CBGB’s-scene band Television released one of rock’s all-time most influential guitar albums, ‘Marquee Moon’, on Elektra Records; made up of tense garage rockers that spiral into heady intellectual territory, the band fused blues structures with avant-garde flourishes while stripping away any sense of swing or groove; led by the 10:40 title track, the dual guitar work of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd abandoned power chords in favor of almost jazz-like interplay, melodic lines & counter-melodies; it was crucial to the development of the post punk scene that followed; though critically-acclaimed at the time of release, it was not a commercial success – it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest & most influential statements in the history of alternative rock music…As founding fathers of the ’70s New York City underground rock scene, among the first bands who played CBGB, Television found themselves sticking out even among the out crowd.

Television delivered a tangled, serpentine guitar spar over Marquee Moon‘s eight sprawling songs, and in twice the length of your conventional punk album, the final running time coming in at 46 minutes (and more than 10 of those minutes are reserved for the title track alone).

While that all might sound like a formula for an esoteric mess, guitarist/frontman Tom Verlaine, his six-string foil Richard Lloyd, and the indomitable rhythm section of Fred Smith on bass and Billy Ficca on drums could just as easily write catchy songs. The album’s longest track, its title cut, comes across as a sort of sonic response to Verlaine’s old girlfriend Patti Smith and her 1975 solo debut masterpiece Horses in its patterns and rhythms.

The band chose acclaimed English engineer Andy Johns to produce the album on account of his work on such early-’70s classics as Mott The Hoople’s Brain Capers and the Stones “Goats Head Soup” . However a lifestyle clash with Johns and Television produced studio tension from the outset. Once they got on the same page, Johns and Television created a literal master’s class in the kind of crisp yet sharp production that enhanced the angularity of their rhythms without losing their sense of melody and pop appeal.

“We wanted to rent a rotating speaker to get the sound for [‘Elevation’],” Lloyd explained. “But the rental people wanted way too much. So Andy came up with an idea. He took a microphone, and while I did the guitar solo to ‘Elevation,’ he stood in front of me in the studio, swinging this microphone around his head like a lasso. He nearly took my fucking nose off. I was backing up while I was playing.”

The risks Johns and the band took in the studio paid off. Marquee Moon became an iconic record for its mythical, godlike status amongst both music critics and young musicians, a select few of whom would go on to form bands

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