Marquee Moon is the 1977 debut album from New York City-based new wave/punk band Television. Though guitarist/vocalist Tom Verlaine claims to have written the songs intending to make a pop album - "a bunch of cool singles" - Marquee Moon gives Verlaine and Richard Lloyd plenty of space for extended solos and riffing, ending up as a Post-Punk take on a Grateful Dead jam-fest.
Marquee Moon was a massive critical favorite, finishing in third in the Village Voice's 1977 Pazz & Jop poll behind Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True. Strong reviews and a successful tour alongside Blondie made a hit of the album across the pond, but stateside things went differently as a tour alongside Progressive Rock stalwart Peter Gabriel had the band well out of its element, gathering very little steam before Elektra Records pulled support.
Although sales have never caught up to its reputation, Marquee Moon remains an acknowledged classic and a major influence on Alternative Rock guitar, cited by figures like The Edge, John Frusciante and Michael Stipe, who named it his "second favorite album of all time," after Horses by Patti Smith. The album was listed at nr. #130 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
- "See No Evil" (3:56)
- "Venus" (3:48)
- "Friction" (4:43)
- "Marquee Moon" (9:58)note
- "Elevation" (5:08)
- "Guiding Light" (5:36)
- "Prove It" (5:04)
- "Torn Curtain" (7:00)
Bonus Tracks (2003 Remaster)
- "Little Johnny Jewel (parts 1 & 2)" (7:09)
- "See No Evil (alternate version)" (4:40)
- "Friction (alternate version)" (4:52)
- "Marquee Moon (alternate version)" (10:55)
- "Untitled Instrumental" (3:22)note
I remember how the trope list doubled:
- Above Good and Evil: Or possibly Straw Nihilist, depending on how seriously they took the lyrics to "See No Evil":I understand all (I see no...)
destructive urges. (I see no...)
They seem so perfect. (I see no...)
I see... I see no... I see no evil!
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Occurs in "Prove It":Now the rose, how it slows
You in such colorless clothes.
- Album Title Drop: "Marquee Moon"
- Coming of Age: An interpretation of "Venus". The narrator describes how infatuated he was with his relationship, even though it was empty (how would one "fall into the arms of Venus de Milo"?). Afterward, once Richie suggests dressing up, he declines, having been changed by the experience.
- City Noir: "Broadway looked so medieval" indeed.
- Contemptible Cover: Averted. You might expect something audacious from a cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe, but it's just a photo of the band.
- Epic Rocking: Most of the album. "Elevation", "Guiding Light" and "Prove It" are all over five minutes. The Title Track clocks in at 9:58 (or 10:47 on the CD reissue), and "Torn Curtain" is exactly seven minutes. And the Rhino CD reissue adds the non-album single "Little Johnny Jewel", which is 7:09.
- Face on the Cover: A picture of the band, in this case a photocopy with skewed colors, giving it a surreal air.
- Growing Up Sucks: "Friction"I don't wanna grow up, there's too much contradiction.
- Hardboiled Detective: "Prove It" is from the perspective of one.
- Hurricane of Puns:
Fantastic! You lost your sense of humanIt's too "too-too" to put a finger on
- "Prove It"
- Immediate Self-Contradiction:
I spoke to a man down at the tracksAnd I asked him how he don't go madHe said "Look here junior, don't you be so happyAnd for Heaven's sake, don't you be so sad!"
- "Marquee Moon"
I knew there was pain but pain is not aching
I woke up and it was yesterday.
- "Guiding Light"
- Impersonating an Officer: "Venus"Then Richie, Richie saidHey man let's dress up like cops,Think of what we could do!
- New York City: There are several lyrical references to lower Manhattan.
- The Night That Never Ends: "Guiding Light":Do I, Do I?Belong to the night?Only onlyOnly tonight.All the ladiesStay inside.
- One-Word Title: "Venus", "Friction", and "Elevation".
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Tom Verlaine's yelping on this album is one of the quintessential examples.
- Post-Punk: Like punk rock, their harmonies eschewed traditional rock and blues. But their complex arrangements and extended jamming also eschewed punk's Three Chords and the Truth attitude. Interestingly, this album came out six months before Never Mind the Bollocks did. In other words, post-punk was well underway even before punk hit the mainstream.
- Record Producer: Andy Johns & Tom Verlaine. Hiring Andy Johns led to a bit of misunderstanding behind the scenes. He assumed that Television hired him for the huge, compressed drum sound that was his trademark, so he set the drums up for that sound before the band arrived at the studio. When Television arrived, they had to convince him that they hired him for the guitar sounds from the albums he produced—and that they wanted no compression or reverb on the drums.
- Rule of Symbolism: The lyrics are styled after Romantic poetry. Storytelling is somewhat surreal as a result.
- "Prove It" echoes The Long Goodbye.
- "Torn Curtain", a reference to Torn Curtain. The drum roll in the intro is also similar to The Stooges' "Dirt" from the Fun House album.
- The "F-R-I-C-T-I-O-N!" in "Friction" is a shout-out to Them's "Gloria," as well as Patti Smith's cover from Horses. Tom Verlaine dated Smith for a while.
- Technician vs. Performer: Lloyd is a straightforward Hendrix-influenced guitarist placed directly up against the emotional, avant-garde style of Verlaine.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: "Friction" about feelings that lead to friction.
- Unbuilt Trope: A punk album with long songs and guitar solos? If the album had been released a few years earlier or had more keyboards it might have been classified as a Progressive Rock album.
- Word Salad Lyrics: The lyrics are very difficult to decipher sometimes. "Marquee Moon" is essentially Phrase Salad—more like Verse Salad.