Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Friction... The Television Story ... Show # 141

Television was interesing band that came out of the New York CBGB's scene in the late 70s. The group would be influenced by The Rolling Stones, 13th Floor Elevators, Count Five and Velvet Underground. In addition to this, it is apparent that Tom Verlaine and the band had an interest in Jazz music. In 1975, Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell formed Television. After recording a demo and playing live with the band, Hell would leave the group to form his own. Fred Smith (ex Blondie bassist) would replace Hell. The group would have Richard Lloyd on rhythm guitar and Billy Ficca on drums (Verlaine would be vocalist/guitarist). Despite making a demo produced by Brian Eno, the band did not get signed. It wasn't until the group recorded the song "Little Johnny Jewel" (a song apparently about Iggy Pop) on their own record label that they would get notice. The song became a hit with the underground and in 1976 they would sign to Elektra Records. The group also convinced CBGB's owner Hilly Kristal to let them play at his club which stood for (Country Blue Grass and Blues music), Television were the first rock band to play at CBGB's. The place would become a significant venue for the New York Punk Rock movement of the late 70s.

When Marquee Moon was released in 1977 it received recognition, but did poorly in album sales. It did fairly well in the UK (reaching #28 on the charts), but it did not do well in America. The album is a classic album, that employed garage rock, jazz influenced guitar lines and a rhythm style that would influence New Wave and Post Punk. The album was originally made up of eight tracks. When it was re-issued in 2003, it was expanded with alternate versions of songs and other bonus tracks. Songs featured on the album such as "See No Evil", "Prove It", and "Friction" really stand out. The song "Venus" is an interesting composition. Lyrically it addresses finding safety in the lost arms of the mythological Greek statue Venus de Milo. There is also the ten minute "Marquee Moon". When "Marquee Moon" was originally released in 1977, it faded out a little after 9 minutes. The re-issue contains the full version of the song without a fade out, it lasts for almost 11 minutes. These songs combined with the wonderful weaving guitars supplied by Verlaine and Lloyd, all make the album a work of art.

Television's second album Adventure, would be released in 1978. The album did better sales-wise in America, and would eventually become a top ten hit in the UK. It was produced differently. Instead of the album sounding straight to the point (as Marquee Moon did), Adventure features a different side of the band. It still had great songs such as "Foxhole", "Careful" and "Glory". Both "Foxhole" and "Careful" were songs that the band played during their early lives shows. Members of the band all had their own visions of what Television should be which would partly lead to their break up. That combined with Richard Lloyd's drug related issues, would cause Television to break up in 1978. Fred Smith would re-join Blondie and the two guitarists, Verlaine and Llyod would pursue solo careers.

In 1991, the group re-formed and recorded an album Television that would come out in 1992. The reunion did not last long, they would stop touring in 1993. In 2001, the group reformed again for a few shows in the UK. Several bootlegs of the band exist. There are live releases such as The Blow-Up, Live At The Academy and Live At The Old Wardorf are all excellent examples of the bands live qualities. Television was yet another band that were around for a short time that made a huge impact. While the albums did not sell that much at the time they influenced numerous other bands musically.

Here's the play list:

1. Neil Young – don’t let it bring you down (live Massey Hall 1971)
2. Tell-tale hearts – I get up in the morning
3. The Shades – new clientele
4. The Jam – going underground
5. The Zeros – radio fun
6. Riff Raff – what’s the latest
7. Klark Kent – don’t care
8. The Gears – baby runaround
9. Magazine – shot by both sides (single version)
10. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (i don't want to go to) chelsea (BBC)
11. XTC – science friction
12. Hot, Hot, Heat – save us s.o.s.
13. Pointed Sticks – somebody’s mom
14. Young Canadians – just a loser
15. Smugglers – paper doll
16. Rolling Stones – she said yeah
17. The Metros – on the radio waves
18. Television – prove it
19. Television - see no evil (alternate version)
20. Red Hot Chili Peppers – I get around (live)
20. Talking Heads – with our love
21. The Visitors – hell yes
22. The Hives – see through head
23. Dead 60’s – horizontal
24. Fiction Plane – two sisters
25. The Jam - that's entertainment
26. Buzzcocks - ever fallen in love
27. Wire - i am the fly

No comments: