TELEVISION Marquee Moon (Elektra)

Officially the sixth best debut album in the world...ever! if you believe a certain list published elsewhere in this issue, Television's (who, incidentally, had an article devoted to them in this morning's Independent On Sunday) evergreen "Marquee Moon" still shows young 'un's like Built To Spill and Superchunk how much there is to know about what two electric guitars playing together can sound like: just listen to the way Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd's guitar lines coil around each other during the ten minute title track. Television may have been nominally punk/new wave/call it what you want, but that didn't prevent them from meticulously documenting who plays what solo on which track, or stop them writing proper songs with real lyrics (legend has it that Verlaine used to mumble the words at gigs to outfox a note-taking Lou Reed in the audience) no better than on "Venus", home to classic lines like "Richard said "Let's dress up like cops, think what we could do"/But something, somewhere, says you'd better not" and inimitable moments such as that song's call and response chorus, or Verlaine's deadpan "This case is closed" at the end of the genuine top pop hit "Prove It". That "Marquee Moon" still sounds great over twenty years later is a testament to the power of Tom Verlaine's songwriting and Andy Johns' uncluttered production - it's one of very few albums from that era, Patti Smith's "Horses" being another, that stubbornly refuse to date.


Television's legendary live album, originally issued in 1982 on cassette, finally makes it to vinyl, in this case green and blue discs of the stuff. Although little better than bootleg quality sonically the track selection was supervised by Tom Verlaine from tapes made at gigs during 1978, making "The Blow-Up" the closest possible cut to re-enacting a primetime Television concert in the privacy of your own home. It's also vital because of what it adds to the band's sketchy discography: material is drawn from the two albums released by the original incarnation of the group (one of which, "Marquee Moon", is simply one of the finest albums ever made) but the setlist also takes in a fifteen-minute version of their home-brewed debut single "Little Johnny Jewel" and covers of "Satisfaction", "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and The 13th Floor Elevators' "Fire Engine", here retitled "The Blow Up".

So it doesn’t make for comfortable listening, sounding rough and battered compared to their polished studio performances. You won't hear much of Tom Verlaine's quicksilver lyricism either - legend has it the singer adopted a mumbling vocal style to outwit note-taking audience member Lou Reed. But there are moments here that are as fine as anything Television have preserved for posterity, notably the kinetic, high-kicking "Saturday Night Fever"-meets-CBGBs funk of "Little Johnny Jewel". And for that, "The Blow-Up" more than justifies its existence.

TELEVISION Adventure (Elektra)

Arriving hot on the vapour trails of their seminal debut waxing "Marquee Moon", Television's sophomore effort could charitably be described as sounding rushed. The wild flights of interlocking guitar lines that characterised their earlier work had curdled into thugging riffage (see the single "Foxhole", for example) and the jousting wordplay that had inspired admirers such as Lou Reed is conspicuous only by its absence. "Adventure" has its moments: "Days" is gorgeous, Verlaine's guitar waterfalls that plunge through "The Fire" evoke pleasant feelings of nostalgia for "Marquee Moon" and "Ain't That Nothin'" is a reasonable facsimile of "Prove It". But "Adventure" effectively demonstrated that Television were played out, so much so that it would be 14 years before the band recorded together again.