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Tag Archives: Guiding Light

Play Television’s masterpiece debut ‘Marquee Moon’ to your friends. “Who’s this?” they’ll ask before inquiring if it’s a new release. Enjoy the shock on their faces when you tell them, “Actually, it was recored in 1977.” Thirty-three years later, ‘Marquee Moon’ still sounds just as revolutionary and fresh as anything Radiohead has produced in the last decade. It’s a punk record with intricate extended jams. It’s a new wave record with garage rock power chords. Mostly it’s an astonishing virtuoso guitar rock album. Television never got much commercial recognition, but after a single listen, it’s easy to hear the profound influence they had on the American underground rock scene of the 80’s. From The Pixies to Pavement, anyone who picked up a guitar owed a little to Television.

Television in turn are indebted to the punk-meets-blues noise experiments of The Velvet Underground. Although Television stripped out the blues and white noise freakouts and went for arty guitar rock, the connection can be traced like DNA. Without the blues rhythms, it’s difficult to dance to anything on this album. Mostly, you’ll just want to sit back and listen to the interplay between the two guitarists, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. They take center stage for every song, not so much trading licks as interlocking their rhythms and melodies into a fascinating and gorgeous sonic architecture.

The opening ‘See No Evil’ is a high energy first track that demonstrates that interplay perfectly, with Verlaine and Lloyd laying down grooves and veering off in jazz like flourishes as they explore around the melody. There’s even a blazing tight solo in the middle that has hooks enough for a whole album. Later on the album ‘Guiding Light’ slows things down with a gentle anthem and one of the prettiest outros this side of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. The undisputed finest track is the eponymous ‘Marquee Moon’, a masterpiece of experiment, virtuosity and beauty. Rolling over ten minutes, it’s chock full of extended jamming concluding with one of the greatest guitar solos in history.

‘Marquee Moon’ has never lacked for accolades. Rolling Stone, Uncut, NME, Pitchfork, VH1 and Q Magazine have all placed the album high in various all-time lists. It only lacks a wide audience. It’s true the band never turned in a three chord pop song, but it’s a must listen for anyone who is a fan of heartfelt rock and roll.

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