Television’s remarkable debut showcases a young band with their sound already fully developed. In interviews, the band have stated that the sound they wanted to record was different from the stadium rock sound on contemporary albums; the dry drum sound is more comparable to jazz, while there are echoes of New York forebears The Velvet Underground. Even the guitars of Verlaine and Lloyd are relatively unadorned, relying on their memorable riffs and melodies for effect.
It’s the riffs that are the most memorable – Verlaine and Lloyd create musical figures that snake around unpredictably, like the dissonant ‘Elevation’ riff and the spiralling ‘Venus’ riff. But the centerpiece is the title track, a ten minute epic packed with memorable guitar riffs and spiralling solos. The R&B flavoured ‘Guiding Light’ is a nice change of pace, and Lloyd’s melodic solo is my favourite from an album full of great guitar work. Marquee Moon does peter out over its last two songs, but it’s worth tracking down the bonus track ‘Little Johnny Jewel’.
Marquee Moon is a masterpiece, an album with an original sound, great songs, and which blurs the lines between the simplicity of punk and the intricacy of art rock.