Marquee Moon album cover
Marquee Moon



This very famous debut album isn’t exactly a debut album. Television formed, roughly, in 1972, when guitarist Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell started playing as The Neon Boys. Over time, drummer Ficca and Verlaine stayed, Hell left, and bassist Fred Smith and guitarist Richard Lloyd joined. After flirting with a few producers, including Brian Eno, the band agreed to let engineer Andy Johns produce the record, very much in concert with Verlaine. The songs had been tested over two years of live performance, with solos and breakdowns all set in place. Verlaine repeatedly said he hated guitars and was inspired by Albert Ayler and John Coltrane. This music, released in 1977, is some of the most purely electric guitar music of its time (which was thick with competition). There are very few barre chords but lots of interplay and independence in the guitars. This lineup had a way of sounding just-woke-up loose and just-nailed-it tight. Verlaine’s lyrics are maybe the least duplicated aspect of this very celebrated album. He sings of noir set-ups that turn into crises of faith and New York nights under a “marquee moon” while listening to the rain and “hearing something else.” Peaceful and violent and skeptical and loving, Marquee Moon cannot be exhausted.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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