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(TV) article

 "There are any number of ways to get from one place to another on
        the neck of the guitar that I don't know about" Tom Verlaine

Television ignited New York's resurgence as the centre of cutting-edge rock in the 70s, leading a pack of
punks and new wavers to break new ground in the now-legendary CBGBs (Country, Bluegrass and Blues).
The club eventually unveiled visionaries such as Talking Heads, the Ramones and Blondie, but not before
Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, Television's two guitarists, had persuaded the management into a gig on
March 31, 1974, kicking off a new era in New York's music history. In school, Tom Miller and Richard Meyer shared visions of escaping Delaware to live in New York City -
Meyer to become a poet, Miller to become a musician. Meyer made it there first in 1967, re-starting his life
as Richard Hell, nihilist, punk poet and drug addict. Miller joined him in November, obsessed with John
Coltrane and free-form jazz, but eventually traded in his sax for a guitar. Assuming the surname Verlaine, he
turned his attention to rock music, captivated by The Velvet Underground and Rolling Stones. In 1972 they formed the Neon Boys, an attempt to mix a garage sound with riff-happy British heavy guitar
rock. Spiritual leader Hell, a prototype for Sid Vicious, knew no instruments and wound up, reluctantly, on
bass. The line-up of Verlaine, Hell and Billy Ficca (drums) recorded just six songs during this phase.
Verlaine wanted another guitarist to augment the sound, and though auditions - including sessions with
Blondie's Chris Stein and the Ramones' Dee-Dee - proved fruitless, he eventually found his perfect foil,
Richard Lloyd, on the club scene. Television was born, and the focus turned to interplay between Verlaine's
free style and Lloyd's tight, riff-driven blues. Early concerts were loud and frenzied, led by Hell's madcap pogoing antics, but Verlaine grew uneasy with
the histrionics. He was also unhappy with Hell's lack of talent on bass, though Hell's songwriting couldn't be
faulted, notably "Love Comes in Spurts" and "(I Belong to the) Blank Generation", early punk anthems. Island Records showed an interest in signing the band, and Brian Eno produced a six-track demo, but nothing
happened, the sticking point being the song that was to make Television's name, the swirling epic "Marquee
Moon". An eight-minute opus full of shifts and obtuse sequences, it grew longer and more complex by the
end of the CBGB residence, and Hell simply wasn't up to the task. Verlaine already knew who he wanted to
replace Hell, Fred Smith of Blondie, who ironically made the move because Television appeared to be the
more commercially viable band. Hell left in March 1975, having never appeared on a Television record, to
form Richard Hell and The Voidoids. The first single Television released, on Ork Records, was the two-part "Little Johnny Jewel", a decision that
so incensed Lloyd, who knew it would flop, that he quit. Verlaine quickly recruited Peter Laughner from
Rocket in the Tombs, but Lloyd soon re-joined, and in 1976 they recorded the breathtaking debut Marquee
Moon for Elektra. Nick Kent, writing for the NME, called it 'a 24-carat inspired work of genius', and the
album is now commonly acknowledged as one of the most influential recordings of its decade. Marquee
Moon reached #28 in the UK but failed to chart in the US. Two singles, "Marquee Moon" and "Prove It",
made the UK Top 30. After having spent many years perfecting the songs on Marquee Moon, the band members were
hard-pressed to follow up their first effort. Adventure (1978) had its moments, including the uplifting "Glory"
and the superb single "Foxhole", prefaced by "The Star-Spangled Banner" when performed live. The album,
however, was another commercial failure, and Verlaine and Lloyd again began to fall out. Their 1978 tour
increasingly became the Tom Verlaine band, and one July day Lloyd finally snapped, closing the curtains on
the band for some fifteen years. After a lengthy solo career, Verlaine re-formed Television in the early 90s for one album, Television. It was
solid enough to win Television the 1993 Comeback of the Year from Rolling Stone's critics, and briefly
rekindled the hope that Verlaine and Lloyd would write some more. Sadly though, the egos clashed once
more, solo projects seemed preferable and the band split again a few months after their 1992 Glastonbury
appearance. They seemed doomed to make no more rock'n'roll history, and will just continue to influence it
through their impact on artists such as Edwyn Collins, Lloyd Cole (whose vocal style is reminiscent of
Verlaine) and Echo and the Bunnymen.     Marquee Moon (1977; Elektra). The one essential Television purchase. The original vinyl release fades
    out "Marquee Moon" after about eight minutes, but the CD has restored the longer version, and not a
single moment of the ten-plus minutes seems extraneous. The album offers a wealth of other gems, from the
richly textured "See No Evil" to the rawer "Prove It".     The Blow-Up (1982/1999; ROIR). Recorded live in 1978, this is Television at their controlled-frenzy
    best. Chillingly, stunningly good work.

Mike Martin Thanks to everybody who helped clear up our confusion on the Fred Smith issue

                                   ROCK HOMEPAGE Taken from the Rough Guide to Rock. * Rough Guides Ltd. First edition published Aug 96 / Nov 96 (USA). Distributed by
WEB MASTER: Al Spicer. DESIGN AND SCRIPTING Henry Iles & Ben Rudder.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
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