Monday, 4 August 2014

“Marquee Moon” by TELEVISION (2003 Rhino 'Expanded Edition' CD - Greg Calbi Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry…




"…Talk To The Mountain…"

When you think of the staggering influence America's TELEVISION has exerted over so many budding bands and songwriters - it's strange now in the glaring hindsight of 2014 to know that in the eye of the Punk and New Wave hurricane they were largely a British phenomenon. The New York band's 1977 debut LP barely scraped the lower 200 in the USA album charts but stood proudly at 28 in the UK. Both singles off the album - "Marquee Moon" (March 1977 on K 12251) and "Prove It" (July 1977 on K 12262) charted well in Blighty too (30 and 25). Their 2nd album "Adventure" from 1978 even went to No. 7.  But none of it seemed to mean zip in the no-chart action States...

Whatever way chart-history judges them - I stare at this LP's rather dull artwork now and still get a sheer tingle of excitement. I've loved this record for nearly 40 years and it still sounds so ludicrously fresh to me when so many others have gone by the wayside. And dare I use that most clichéd of words - this album and their sound as a band is as influential now as The Clash, The Jam and even The Sex Pistols. So it's cool to see this superb expanded and remastered CD do that legacy proud. Here are the green-coloured vinyl details...

Released October 2003 on Rhino R2 73920 (Barcode 081227392024) - "Marquee Moon" by TELEVISION comes in a card digipak with an extra flap and this 'Extended Edition' CD pans out as follows (77:27 minutes):

1. See No Evil
2. Venus
3. Friction
4. Marquee Moon
5. Elevation
6. Guiding Light
7. Prove It
8. Torn Curtain
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Marquee Moon" - released February 1977 in the USA on Elektra Records 7E-1098 and K 52046 in the UK.

Tracks 9 to 13 are BONUSES new to CD:
Track 9 is "Little Johnny Jewel (Part 1 & 2)" - the A&B sides of their rare debut 7" single in the USA only on Ork Records 81975.
Tracks 10, 11 and 12 are 'Alternate' Versions of album tracks "See No Evil", "Friction" and "Marquee Moon"
Track 13 is called "Untitled Instrumental"

The 20-page colour booklet has liner notes by noted New York writer ALAN LICHT (even picturing that Ork Records 45 on Page 18) with snaps of Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, Fred Smith and Billy Ficca and the CBGB's nightclub. The CD repros the Butterfly label of the original Elektra records America LP while the quality-remaster has been carried out by one of my favourite tape engineers GREG CALBI (assisted by Lee Hulko). For more of Calbi's fabulous work see reviews for Supertramp's "Breakfast In America" and Paul Simon's "Graceland". He's also done Bob Dylan (the SACD remasters), John Mayer, Paul McCartney and hundreds more. The audio is fabulous - full of muscle and presence without ever being overdone.

Neither Rock nor Punk - TELEVISION (like Talking Heads) were the very epitome of NEW WAVE and that jagged Yank edge they had seemed exotic to me then and still does. It some respects it's a perfect album - 8 great tracks that all work. It opens with the killer "See No Evil" (lyrics above) emblazoning that Television sound and melody into your heart. "Friction" still has that angry edge while the near eleven-minutes of "Marquee Moon" is stunning. The album finisher "Torn Curtain" has a melodrama that reminds me of Patti Smith's "Easter".

I had though the extras would be filler - but no. The alternate of "Friction" has more guitar work but it's sloppy and not as tight as the finished article - and you can hear why it was dropped for the more polished version. Fans will know that the title track was put out on 7" and especially 12" single in the UK on Elektra K 12252 with a MONO variant of "Marquee Moon" on the B-side (the STEREO album version is on the A). But it's not on here. Rhino have obviously decided to exclude that in favour of the Previously Unreleased Alternate Version (and a good choice it is too). The "Untitled Instrumental" would have made a great B-side - especially if some lyrics had been drummed up for it. Their next platter "Adventure" was good too but just lacked that edge of greatness the debut had.

So there you have it - what a band and what an album.

"...Face to face with a world so alive..." - Verlaine sings on "Venus". 
Get this slice of New Wave Americana in your life pronto...

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