Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Julie Burchill Reviews Television's Adventure

For the sake of balance, to follow up the post I put up here a couple of days ago for Tom Verlaine's birthday, here is Julie Burchill's scathing review of Television's second album, Adventure, published in The NME when it came out in 1978. It's par for the course with Burchill, she was never remotely taken with either Verlaine or Hell, though strangely she does like opening track on the album Glory, (by no means its best song). Little else mind! She's wrong about the record, it's a very good if slightly inconsistent listen, no Marquee Moon of course, but it still stands on its own merits. Nevertheless, whether you agree with her sentiments or not, (she doesn't really follow up her arguments with informed music criticism as this was never her style, much more concerned, as ever, with the well-written line), it's a funny read. I imagine Nick Kent wouldn't have been greatly taken with it. For the record, Tom Verlaine still has a pretty good head of hair nearly forty years later.

The TV Backlash Starts Here

                                Source: NME (April 8, 1978)

                                      by Julie Burchill

Spring again and a young man's fancy turns to product.

Yet another American artist with no guilt -- I don't know how they do it!

I don't know about you, but I'd rather sit through a Nick Lowe album than listen to the latest lax waxing by yet another 'New Wave' American band, with their selfish fantasies of individual reality and desperate desires for the root of all evil.

Well, why do you think Television persist in putting out records stamped on red or green plastic? Is Tom Verlaine's creative genius burning? At least Kiss gives you a free sheet of transfers.

Still, as the Roman Emperor who hid his money in his chamber-pot was fond of saying, "Non olet". Money doesn't smell -- not like this record anyway.

Drag yourself past the 'literary' sleeve -- they're not a pretty band and Tom faces up to baldness with bad grace -- and what you get is more acid-casualty-type gibberish in the tradition of "Marquee Moon".

You remember. Verlaine sings like a woman from that African tribe where they stretch their necks to giraffe-lengths by wrapping brass coils around them. There's your usual ponderous and profound musical preening, featuring guitar solos which make Segovia look like a handless man.

The single 'Foxhole' is here, but the only good song on the record is 'Glory', a clean, simple, unadorned song worthy of Talking Heads. It's good because it's the only time Tom doesn't angle for a date with Salvador Dali and use dumb Dada-reject imagery. "She got mad/she said 'you're too steep'/put on her boxing gloves and went to sleep."

Now I think that's smart, but the rest is strictly Surrealist and often unintentionally funny, like when Tom really gets into his namesake Paul Verlaine's (Rimbaud's possessive boyfriend) skin for the immortal line "Last night I went down to the docks . . ."

Verlaine did two years bed-and-breakfast courtesy of the French government when he shot old Artie Rimbaud in the wrist -- if there was any justice in the world, Verlaine Reincarnate should do a similar stretch of boulder-breaking for this arty abomination.

If you were auto-suggested into buying "Marquee Moon"., you might be interested in this -- but I doubt even that, since the new little piggy isn't getting a page-plus review and a front cover-ridiculous overkill.

Tom's loved one might like it (cheers, Patti Lee!), but "Adventure" is really just wallpaper backing for the Woosome Twosome to read each other French poems to.

"Truth for the poet", said George Santayana, "is only a stimulus."
Which means that a poet doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything much beyond his nibs-nib. Stateside new wave bands have honed this stance to near-perfection, all to the good of their bank balance.

But gee whiz, what a state to be in ...

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