Television Reviews

No, not reviews of TV shows. Reviews of albums by the band Television. By me.

1977: Marquee Moon (10/10)

The cliche about this record is that it completely re-invented rock guitar playing. It’s not true exactly, but like any cliche there is some truth to it. Sometime in the mists of time, I wrote the following:

An absolute classic. I know it’s been said before, but this is a truly innovative album. You kind of listen to it and go, “where’s the blues?” And realize, they’ve left it behind. Which is just crazy, considering it’s a rock album. That in itself would set this above most other rock albums from the 1970s. However, some truly innovative albums are chores to listen to. You know the album’s trailblazing, brilliant or whatever, but you really have to work to listen to it, due to a lack of great songs. This is definitely not the case here. The band’s ridiculously simple yet brilliant innovation is paired with Verlaine’s songs; every one of which is memorable. This album, along with a few others (former Television member Richard Hell’s Blank Generation, for example) set the groundwork for post-punk. The latest resurgence of that genre is making this debut album look even more significant.

Well…I can’t say I entirely agree with my previous assessment. It’s not like there’s no blues here, it’s just that Lloyd’s playing in particular has very little reference to the blues. (Verlaine’s does, at times.) And I really hate that this record is considered “post punk.” Post Punk did not exist in 1977 because punk barely did.

But the record has been profoundly influential, not just on  New York guitar-focused bands (for which it is pretty essential) but for much American alternative and indie rock of the ’80s to the present.

And I do agree with the above that, for such an influential and classic record, it remains an absolute joy to listen to.

Tied for my #1 album of 1977. Read my reviews of albums released in 1977.

1978: Adventure (8/10)

It’s hard when you’ve only ever listened to one album by a band for so long, you think that that album is the band. Worse, it’s the band’s “classic” and the one everyone knows.

When I first heard this, I thought, “What happened?” It’s only natural. I have heard Marquee Moon more times than I could possibly count and there’s not much here that resembles that record (more the second side than the first). The more sedate songs that dominate the record, and the first side in particular, do not sound like the Television that I know. Had I heard this record immediately after hearing Marquee Moon for the first time, that might have been a virtue. But with at least a decade and a half of listening to Marquee Moon, the seeds were sown for disappointment.

But, on further listens, it’s clear this is a change of direction, not a retreat. It’s not a huge change of direction but it’s enough to make this record sort of live up to its title, instead of what I suspect most people wanted, Marquee Moon 2.

And I admire that. And with additional listens I’ve come to see that there are some good songs here, even if they are less immediate. Moreover, it’s the same band, still fully capable of being the Television you know and love when they want to, even if you have to wait for it.

I cannot foresee a time when this will become my favourite Television record, but it’s a pretty damn good record by the greatest “New York guitar band” in history.

Read my reviews of music from 1978.

1982: The Blow Up (???)

I have only listened to this once, so no review. But their cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is one of my Greatest Covers of All Time. Read my reviews of 1982 albums.

1992: Television (???)

Another reunion album I have failed to listen to. Read my reviews of albums released in 1992.