Thursday, August 30, 2007

No. 128: Marquee Moon

Band: Television
Album: Marquee Moon
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Combining the off-kilter vocalizations of Tom Verlaine with the angular guitar work of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd makes for some excellent quirky rock and roll. There isn't a lot smooth in the vocal delivery, but the songs are amazing just the same. The staccato dynamic and tinny guitar sounds would create a templated copied by hundreds of indie rock bands, the least of which was Pavement. Basically a Velvets ripoff record, "Marquee Moon" still sounds fresh today.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I don't know that they did. The record's impact wasn't felt for a few years, but it remains great.
Best song: The first track, "See No Evil," is great, but the title track is a wonderful burst of guitar solos, awesome rhythm and disjointed vocals.
Worst song: "Guiding Light" isn't great.
Is it awesome?: Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

As someone my age, it's hard not to look at "Marquee Moon" and compare it to the garage revival that happened a few years back. With the Strokes, Mooney Suzuki and the like gaining some popularity, I could easily hear "Marquee Moon" as a contemporary to those records.

And, to be honest, that's one of the bigger compliments I can give "Marquee Moon." It really sounds contemporary. Destroyer's last record apes Tom Verlaine's vocal style, Modest Mouse slows down the guitar parts and the longish solos are straight out of Built to Spill's arsenal.

Not quite punk in the way that other CBGB acts (The Ramones, Blondie, etc.) were, Television was more of an art rock outfit dressed in punk clothes. They fit the image but the sound was more. For one, the guitar work on the title track is much different than the punk rock of the day, as most punk eschewed long solos in favor of short, sweet bursts.

Lyrically, Verlaine was introspective, but strange enough to be artsy. He spoke in almost hippie-ish poetic bursts ("I wanna fly, fly a fountain, I wanna jump jump jump a, jump a mountain" in "See No Evil"), but sang in a way that was quite off-kilter.

It's a landmark record that is called the first post-punk album (ironic, being that it came out at the height of punk's popularity in 1977). Taking the genre and twisting it in such a way is amazing and influenced most of the great indie rock of the past fifteen years.

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