My Senses Are Sharp And My Hands Are Like Gloves

I was in a record shop recently- I know, a record shop, imagine!- and there was something horrible playing on the in-store sound system (1980s Queen I think, almost enough to make me turn round and walk out). But within a minute the horror ended and a familiar drum beat started up and I knew I was going to be in there, browsing the racks, for at least the next ten minutes.

The song was Television’s Marquee Moon, title track of the group’s 1977 album, a record that is a key NY punk record but doesn’t really sound anything like punk. Tom Verlaine and Richard Quinn’s guitar playing is jagged and sharp, precise but fluid guitar solos and single notes, none of the fast thrash of The Ramones, the slashed chords Stones-isms of the New York Dolls. Verlaine’s vocals are thin and expressive. The vox, twin guitars, bass and drums are all perfectly balanced. In the song Marquee Moon the band pull off some ace, super sharp stop- start sections while Verlaine drawls about Cadillacs pulling out of graveyards, darkness doubling and lightning striking itself, and the parts where his voice is left alone ‘just waiting’ and ‘hesitating’ are stunning.

The first side of the album is so good that on the occasions I play it I rarely get to turn it over, See No Evil, Venus and Friction setting up the way into the title track. I don’t think anyone involved in the making of Marquee Moon ever did anything as good afterwards which must be a terrible thing to live with in one way but a brilliant thing too.

The only other occasion I’ve posted anything by Television I posted Marquee Moon and while that was many years ago I’ll post something different just for difference’s sake. All I said before about the music is true on Venus, the twin guitars, the dynamics and the electricity plus Verlaine’s lyrics and delivery- the line about Richie saying  ‘we could dress up as cops, just think what we could do’ followed by Verlaine’s ‘you better not’. There’s also the pay off of the chorus as he falls ‘into the arms of Venus de Milo’.

Venus

Just Waiting…Hesitating

I heard Television’s Marquee Moon on the radio last week- all ten minutes of it. Side One of Marquee Moon is one of my favourite Side Ones, and nothing else Television recorded matches up to it. And it doesn’t matter. Sometime in winter 1989/90 myself, Mr AN and Tracy the Hippy drove to a gig in Warrington and played my cassette of Marquee Moon all the way there- See No Evil, Venus, Friction and MM sounded like the best guitar music in the world. For a band who invented punk’s look (Richard Hell, departed to his Voidoids by the time of MM) and some of it’s sound (Tom Verlaine) they have angular, clipped guitars but also a fluidity that marks them out as 1967 rather than 1977. Marquee Moon (the song) goes on for a very un-punk ten minutes and has an ace breakdown in the middle.

Marquee Moon