Anniversary thinkpieces have become one of the cornerstones of media criticism/journalism and while a lot of it is just digital noise, sometimes great records beget great writing. This is not to say that everything written about Television’s 1977 debut album Marquee Moon is brilliant – although the record itself unequivocally is – there has been quite a bit of good stuff, usually timed with some roundish-numbered birthday of the album.
The latest is this feature by Elizabeth Nelson at The Ringer, the online magazine primarily focused on sports but also home to some excellent pop cultural pieces. There are bon mots a-plenty in the piece, which is as much a history of the nascent punk rock scene in 1970s New York City as the band in question, but this particular passage about the brilliance of the album’s title track – which I attempted to celebrate in the early days of this blog – is a particular favourite (though the Lou Reed anecdote was also all-new to me):
Four notes repeated over 30 slow-building seconds. That perfect alarm-clock-anxiety riff—as evocative of its subject matter as “Satisfaction” or “Layla” or “Bastards of Young.” The ominous chiming of the Byrds meets the unsettling creep of CCR meets the too-numb-to-care excess of Exile on Main St. There is chaos and meditative placidity and a general sense that the album’s boat-made-out-of-ocean is navigating its way by dark stars.Lightning Struck Itself: Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’ in Eight Phases @ The Ringer
Rock and Roll Globe also attempts to do the record justice through words, though I deduct marks for its dismissiveness of the band’s 1990s reunion – I think Television is a fantastic record… but I digress.
Far Out’s own 45th anniversary piece is less monumental, but more efficient salute to the record:
Louder Than War marks the occasion with a first-person account of the effect the record had on the author’s musical awakening in the late ’70s:
Music blog Music Musings and Such took an approach similar to mine and collected a bunch of reflections on the record from other sources, none of which I’ve repeated here so if this compilation-style is your jam, by all means head over there and continue reading:
The Guitar Magazine shot their shot early this year, publishing a feature as part of their “The Genius Of…” series, covering a lot of the same ground as other pieces linked here but with a little more attention to Verlaine and Lloyd’s six-string influence of later generations:
Rhino Records got ahead of the actual anniversary year with this piece in December of last year, which does us the service of unearthing an early review of the band live by none other than Patti Smith.
In 2017, circa its 40th birthday, Observer compiled a number of insightful quotes from Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd about the recording of the record and their interactions with producer Andy Johns:
Pitchfork also marked the record’s fourth decade with a piece that distinguishes itself by collecting some of the more esoteric recordings around Marquee Moon that are not Marquee Moon. Someday I will listen to those Eno sessions.
And finally, there’s this massive piece by journalist Damien Love, originally published in Uncut to coincide with the record’s 30th anniversary in 2012. He’s posted a much longer version of the piece, which centred on an interview with Richard Lloyd about meeting and joining the band, making the record, and carrying on through Adventure, Television, and his eventual final departure from the band. It’s a meal and a half. Read it.
And if you’ve got, like, no time and/or hate to read, and just want to know what the deal with Marquee Moon is… there’s a Pitchfork video. If you watch it, I’ll hate you.