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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: Marquee Moon - Television

Marquee Moon - Television
Produced by Andy Johns and Tom Verlaine
Released 8th February 1977 (US), 4th March 1977 (UK)
UK Album Charts #28
Swedish Album Charts #28

Side A

 Side B

    Billy Ficca – drums
    Richard Lloyd – guitar (solo on tracks A1, A4, B1, and B2), vocals
    Fred Smith – bass guitar, vocals
    Tom Verlaine – guitar (solo on tracks A2, A3, A4, B3, and B4), keyboards, lead vocals

 Singles On Marquee Moon
Japanese Release March 1977

Marquee Moon (Stereo) / Marquee Moon (Mono)
Elektra UK 12" Green Vinyl
Released April 1977
UK Chart #30

Prove It / Venus
Elektra UK 12" Green Vinyl
Released July 1977
UK Chart #25


Prior to the formation of Television in late 1973 old friends Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine had formed a band called The Neon Boys, Billy Ficca played drums. We only know what they were like after a single was released in 1980 of the band (which you can hear in the above link). After the band broke up they all got back together again under a new name - Television. They recruited Richard Lloyd as second guitarist and then began playing live. Their debut was the Townhouse Theater on March 2nd 1974. The same year they made their debut at CBGB's and then onto other shows like Max's Kansas City etc and then in 1975 they were back at at CBGB's where they would begin to gain a Cult following!
A disagreement with Hell over his overly dramatic stage antics led to his departure from the band along with some of his songs that would later turn up in his own band Richard Hell and the Voidoids, but before their formation he would instrumental in setting up The Heartbreakers alongside former NY Dolls legends Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan.

Fred Smith (who had been in Blondie) took over Bass duties. Smith has declared that "Blondie was like a sinking ship and Television was my favorite band". Those two bands had played together at CBGB's and would also tour together in Europe in 1977 on a Television headlined tour (though Verlaine was very unimpressed by them saying that Blondie did not suit their show because they were too different artistically).

One lasting result of Hell's presence in the band was the first Television single, 'Little Johnny Jewel', released on Ork Records in 1975.
Signing with Elektra Records in August 1976 was a big deal for them (pretty much all the influential early New York Punk scene bands were signed now) because the label agreed that Verlaine could produce the album as long as he was assisted by a well known recording engineer. Tom Verlaine chose Andy Johns mainly on the strength of the work he had previously done with the Rolling Stones.

A number of tracks recorded for the album were done in a single take, like the title track, which Billy Ficca had assumed was just a rehearsal! Andy Johns had suggested doing another take but Veraline was insistent that they had captured it correctly. In the studio they had written Guiding Light and Torn Curtain and the remaining tracks were ones they played live on a regular basis. No other songs bar the eight that appeared on the album were tested.

The album was a commercial disaster in the States but gained a lot of friends in the UK thanks in part to Nick Kent's review for the NME (though we in the UK would have to wait until March for its release). It did receive a lot of good reviews in the States, though Noel Coppage of Stereo Review likened Marquee Moon to a "stale version of Bruce Springsteen" (I have no idea what he was listening to in order to come up with that remark!).

The follow up 'Adventure' in 1978 rose high on the charts but Lloyd's drug addiction and Verlaine's and the other band members staunch artistic visions led to the disillution of the group.

They did reunite in 1992 releasing a brand new album and have sporadically played ever since being invited to play at All Tomorrows Parties Festival in 2001. Lloyd left the band again in 2007 and Jimmy Rip took over guitar duties.

It should be said that Television were never really a "Punk" band as we would come to define the term "Punk" and if you were going to see them expecting something like the Ramones or Dead Boys you would have been very disappointed. But I have included them as a part of this series because they were a part of that early American Punk/New Wave Scene that sprung out of CBGB

Marquee Moon has been one of my favourite albums since it came out and I would easily have it in my Top 5 All Time Albums
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