PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Television: Marquee Moon [remastered edition]

Hunter Felt

Television

Marquee Moon [remastered edition]

Label: Rhino
US Release Date: 2003-09-23
UK Release Date: 2003-10-06
Amazon
iTunes

There is no need to argue the importance of Television's debut album, Marquee Moon. Anyone with a remote interest in punk rock, the modern day garage revival or just straight-ahead no frills rock and roll needs Marquee Moon in their album collection. The jaded yet somehow impassioned cynicism of Tom Verlaine's vocals and Romantic poetry inspired lyrics have become the model for a whole army of modern day New York bands. A quick look at M2's Subterranean will show that the rock quasi-underground of today would not exist without Television. The sparkling clean and precise guitars of Verlaine and Richard Lloyd manage to imbue a simplicity and directness to their multi-part songs and epic solos, allowing the band to preserve their punk spirit while pursuing a thoroughly un-punk muse. The underrated rhythm section of Fred Smith and Billy Ficca played with a precise syncopation that influenced the arrival of countless post-punk and new wave acts. Television, it seems, were pretty much exactly 25 years ahead of their time. Rhino's decision to reissue this landmark album in 2003 is a smart financial decision, but does there need to be a new edition of Marquee Moon?

The main selling point of this particular remaster is not the uninspired liner notes or the underwhelming bonus tracks, but rather the updated sound. More than any other album associated with the '70s punk scene, Marquee Moon demands immaculate sound quality. The most notable feature about Television's sound was how clean and sharp the music sounded. Rather than burying their songs in effects and distortion, Lloyd and Verlaine strove for a return to the "ringing-a-bell" sound of Chuck Berry. Where most post-Hendrix guitarists went for the big effect, Verlaine and Lloyd, on rockers like "Friction" and "See No Evil", produce sounds that are precise and razor-sharp, like tiny pins. Because of this dedication to simplification, the two guitarists never step on each other's toes, complimenting each other rather than overlapping into bombast. While the original CD remaster of Marquee Moon was not an embarrassment, the Rhino remaster has given the best possible sound to this great album.

Take for instance how the remaster cleans up the title song. Television's finest moment, the song "Marquee Moon" is a triumph, a ten-minute epic of Romantic brooding that feels as concise as a three-minute pop song, yet is as powerfully evocative as a symphony. A ten-minute song, with poetry for lyrics, an extended instrumental section, and plenty of soloing hardly seems the fare for a "punk" album. What makes the song "punk" is how Television manage not to waste a single second with self-indulgence. From its gripping cinematic opening to the climactic orgasm of heavenly guitar squeaks that would awe even Kevin Shields, every single element of the song builds upon the previous part. Television were never a jam band, and even the solos just propel the song to its irresistible climax. "Marquee Moon" works like precise clockwork, with each instrumental section pushing the next part along. With the new polished sound, the drama of "Marquee Moon" becomes starker, and the moment where the heavenly music stops and the song steps back from the sonic excess of the climax and settles back to the simple opening groove becomes even more bewitching.

If you already own the album, and are content with the old mastering job enough not to feel pressured into shelling out 17 bucks or so for the new edition, the bonus tracks will do little to entice you. The single version of "Little Johnny Jewel Pts. 1 & 2" is issued on CD for the first time. Hardcore Television fans highlight this strange tune as Television's finest hour, but its toy-box of squeals and bangs is not equal to the rousing emotional epics of the album proper. The alternate versions of "See No Evil", "Friction", and "Marquee Moon" are very similar to the original versions, with only a slightly rougher sound and different solos to distinguish them from the album versions (although a step above the "alternate mix" phenomenon that is plaguing modern day reissues). In a bit of a cop out, the concluding surf-inspired "Untitled Instrumental" is actually an out-take from the Adventure sessions. The hardcore fan, hungry for any unreleased Television material, of course will need all of this, but it is the cleaned-up sound that makes this reissue a godsend for those who have put off buying the original master. And those who have already bought the original, and refuse to buy the album again, don't beat yourself up. In ten years or so, during the next New York rock revival, the new "new and improved" Marquee Moon will inevitably pop up on DVD-Audio. Until then, this is the definitive version of a definitive album.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.