I Listened To Television So You Don’t Have To
I take nothing away from Television’s importance. Tom Verlaine talked Hilly Kristal into letting punk bands play the hillbilly hellhole CBGBs, and their intertwined guitar approach inspired many great bands that followed. Still, on record they don’t come across as a great band. Listening to Marquee Moon, Adventure and the single “Little Johnny Jewel” I agree with fans they’re special, but it’s not there on vinyl to the extent of what’s remembered of their live shows and legendary status. A few songs are worth a repeat listen, but that’s about it. I’ll stick with my Feelies records.
The 1975 single “Little Johnny Jewel” is their best song and it sounds great with its hints of funky explosive energy. On Marquee Moon, “See No Evil” is a great showcase of their guitar sound and the rest of the album should have been as strong. “Venus” is good and “Friction” should be faster and louder. At 10:40 long “Marquee Moon” has its moments but doesn’t know if it’s a song or a filibuster. On Adventure, there’s an effort to make it peppier but it’s like Marquee Moon in that after a few songs the point is made and there’s no reason to listen any more. I find Verlaine’s voice also reminds me of Tiny Tim. Don’t get me wrong – TT rocks! Hey, if I played these records at 78rpm like they should be heard maybe Tom would sound exactly like Tiny.
In a number of books I've read, Television's lack of success as a recording band is widely lamented. I can see why, but can also understand why they didn't push a lot of units.