Marquee Moon, Adventure, and Live at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco, 6 / 29 / 78 (Elektra / Rhino)
Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Dec. 19, 2003
TelevisionMarquee Moon (Elektra/Rhino)
TelevisionLive at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco, 6/29/78 (Rhino Handmade) Television: oft referenced, seldom heard -- a critic's band if ever there was one. Led by the twin-guitar gymnastics of frontman Tom Verlaine and rhythm man Richard Lloyd, Television started New York's infamous CBGB scene in the mid-Seventies. After breaking ground with a seven-minute debut single ("Little Johnny Jewel") spread over two sides of a 45, Television brought a similar aesthetic to their storied debut, 1977's Marquee Moon, reissued here with "Jewel," alternate album tracks, and informative liners. Behind a Velvet Undergroundy two-chord backbone, the 10-minute title track presages both the Strokes' shimmering melodics and Sonic Youth's dissonant crescendos in one disciplined package. Verlaine's lyrics are simple yet poetic, the spunky "Venus" standing out with its "falling into the arms of the Venus di Milo." Tension and uncertainty guide Verlaine and Lloyd's excursions into territory that would soon be called post-punk. Their second and final prebreakup effort, Adventure, is considerably more tame, but not without redemption. "Days" pioneers R.E.M. guitar jangle, "Foxhole" and "Careful" are devil-may-care, and "The Fire" features trill shredding and pitch-bending oscillations. Live at the Old Waldorf is the new treat, Rhino Handmade legitimizing this oft-bootlegged concert as an Internet-only purchase. Verlaine and Lloyd come out smokin' to the ascending monsoon of "The Dream's Dream," establishing crystal clarity and a wicked proclivity to rock. The spare, grimy combustion of "Little Johnny Jewel" only hints at the 14-minute monolith that is "Marquee Moon" in perhaps its definitive version, a thrill ride of epic proportions piloted by one of the Seventies' most important authors.
(Marquee Moon; Live at the Old Waldorf)