Television Marquee Moon

Three Great Albums – Marquee Moon, Spilt Milk, and Southeastern

I’ve had a lot of time for writing recently; some leave and then a work trip with long haul flights and time in airport lounges. Lately, I’ve made several pages for acts with only a handful of albums to their name. These three acts have commonalities; they’re all white, male American acts, although they’re operating in different genres and different eras. The most striking similarity is they all have small discographies, and each has one album with a clear consensus as their best. While I don’t always agree with canon, in each of these cases, I concur with the consensus, even though all three have other enjoyable albums.

Television – Marquee Moon

television-marquee-moonThe CBGBs Club in New York spawned a diverse collection of great bands that helped to define the punk and new wave genres. Television’s distinctive feature is the guitar interplay of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, exemplified on songs like the epic title track. If you can tolerate Verlaine’s strangled vocals, Marquee Moon is a masterpiece.

Jellyfish – Spilt Milk

jellyfish-spilt-milk1990’s Bellybutton was a perfectly serviceable record, but in hindsight it sounds like a practice run for the ornate Spilt Milk. The stacked harmonies and heavy guitars of Spilt Milk are like a power pop take on Queen, with great songs like ‘New Mistake’ and ‘Glutton of Sympathy’.

Jason Isbell – Southeastern

southeasternJason Isbell has released five albums since leaving the Drive-By Truckers, and has another due soon. But his first three albums were released with The 400 Unit, and featured a sub-optimal Isbell. Before Southeastern, Isbell became sober, and personal songs like ‘Elephant’ are devastating, although my favourite is the rock of ‘Flying Over Water’.

Are you a fan of any of these albums?

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Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.
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  1. Nice to see someone else out there that digs that Jellyfish album. I always found Bellybutton a bit dull after a while, but Spilt Milk had range. Did you ever check out Imperial Drag at all?

  2. Great to see a piece about Jellyfish. For my money, one of the most criminally underrated power pop bands of them all. I can’t pick between their debut or “Spilt Milk” because they’ve both got an equal amount of outstanding tracks.

    • I definitely like Spilt Milk best – just sounds more elaborate and over the top, which works for this band. Conversely, my favourite material on Bellybutton is the simplest like ‘I wanna stay home’.

  3. A friend of mine was in a British power pop band that toured in support of Jellyfish in the early 90s (The Adventure Babies) and he said they were an amazing live band. I regret never seeing them.

  4. Great post with three wonderful artists. The only place we diverge here is with Jellyfish. I love both albums (and I saw them on both tours) but I think “Bellybutton” is a stronger record. “Spilt Milk” is impressive and shows off a few additional influences, but it’s perhaps slightly overstuffed, whereas its predecessor is all killer & no filler (and has the added bonus of Jason Falkner on guitar & backing vocals). The tour for album #2, however, was stunning. I’ve never heard such perfect vocal harmonies.

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