Tuesday, January 31, 2023

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For January


Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 30 Beggars Opera - Pathfinder


1983 Singles - # 21 Frankie Goes To Hollywood


I never cared for Frankie. Not then, not now. But 1983 was theirs as much as anybody's so give them their due.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 215 Wings - Wildlife


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 387 Galaxie 500 - On Fire


Song(s) of the Day # 3,288 Mozart Estate

Lawrence has come a long way from the youth who led Felt into the eighties and seemed to want nothing more than to be the purveyor of crystalline guitar driven artistic flights of fancy in the Tom Verlaine scheme of things.

His new album Pop-Up! Ker-Ching! And The Possibilities of Modern Shopping are frankly as diametrically opposite from all that as it's possible to be. It's an album that's utterly devoid of beauty and bohemianism of any description.

It's a drawl through living in Poundlands-ville and charity shop drabness. The record is as daft and grey as you could possibly want.In some ways of course it's all a front for one man's existential misery, the realisation that he will never be the pop star he's always been in his head. Lawrence's natural Pop nous still shines through, but one play will do for me.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tom Verlaine 1949-2023


Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 23 Joseph Haydn - The Creation


Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 28 Erasmo Carlo - Sonhos E Memorias


1983 Singles - # 23 Madonna


I always had reservations about Madge, but early doors.she was a breath of fresh air. The singles still are.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 213 Led Zeppelin - IV


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 389 Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours


Song(s) of the Day # 3,286 King Tuff


Indie of the cutesy slow tread, smalltown variety from a man in a long, unkempt straggly beard. He's called Kyle Thomas and he hails from Brattleboro, Vermont which seems to be the epicenter of a small scene right now, given that Thus Love among others also work from there.

King Tuff's new record is appropriately titled Smalltown Stardust and his songs are located around modest provincial pleasures, settling for friends and loved ones as opposed to yearning for the neon lights.

Thomas is akin to a Kurt Vile if he'd fallen at an impressionable age for Marc Bolan and Paul McCartney rather than Neil Young. The record is out now and will charm many and would almost certainly cast its spell on me given a couple of further plays. I'm going to let it do just that.

An altogether gorgeous record to chance upon on during a grey early afternoon when I really ought to be tidying my flat. One to add to your list.

Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 27 The Belmonts - Cigars, Acapella, Candy


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Robert Wyatt


                                                                                     78 today.

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 21 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - The Magic Flute


1983 Singles - # 24 The Bluebells


The Bluebells were fab. And what's more they were in the charts. They were the 'might as well have been on Postcard band that actual had hits'. That's 'hits' Orange Juice. You only had one proper one. Even if it was Rip It Up.

Anyway Bluebells were fab. They knew that The Monkees were just the best. And as I've said, they had hits. Well at least two of them. This was one of them. Cath was the other. 'Cath. Woh woh. It takes a lot to make me laff. You led me up the garden path.' The girl I lived next door to at the time liked it. Her name was Emma-Kate. I think the double barreled thing was an affectation.

Anyhow she was lovely. I fancied her rotten and I think she liked me too. Everybody has to have a girl next door at some point in their teenage years. She was mine. She knocked on the front door one Thursday evening one time in 1984 when the rest of my family were out. I'd just watched Top of the Pops. The Smiths had been on playing Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. They'd also played the video for Sylvian's Red Guitar. Some things stay lodged in your memory banks forever.

Anyhow TOTP was over and Eastenders had probably started. The doorbell rang. Emma-Kate was really upset. Her horrible piebald family cat had caught and killed a bird. She was virtually in tears. I went next door with her and we buried it in a match box. Then we went inside and watched Some Like it Hot together. I never told her. I never kissed her. But it doesn't matter. I have the memory. It's golden. Whenever I think of or listen to The Bluebells I think of Emma-Kate.

*One additional piece of information. This is originally a Bananarama song.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 212 Mickey Newbury - Frisky Mabel Joy


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 390 J Dilla - Donuts


Song(s) of the Day # 3,285 Meg Baird


A cold overclouded Saturday morning at the end of January. Looking out  of my window, sat at my desk. The Newcastle streets are wet with overnight rain. Frankly it doesn't look very inviting. But I don't need to go out just yet. I've got a pretty wonderful record to listen to and review on here.

Meg Baird has been putting out records for a while now. As a member of  Espers and Heron Oblivion and for several years now, on her own. They've all mined similar seams. Folky, Psychy ones. Echoes of former times. Fairport, Nick Drake, Fotheringay.

Latest album Furling is her fourth solo outing. I haven't heard all of her other ones but I suspect it's her best. They'd have to go some to be better than this. Anyhow, it's more than enough in itself.

It sets off with an instrumental piece called Ashes, Ashes which is weirdly and wonderfully reminiscent of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Talk about setting your bar high. Miraculously it doesn't fall short.

From here the record becomes more what you might expect it to be. Nick on guitar, Sandy singing. Perhaps I'm stretching things slightly here. Meg doesn't actually sound like Sandy. But that gives you the general idea.

It's plaintive, meditative, reflective. And lots of other wonderful things. Mostly positive adjectives ending in -ive. It's pretty damned beautiful. Albeit in a slightly spooky way.

It's altogether something of a wonderful gift. To round up an altogether wonderful month for music. Now all I need to do is get round to writing about all the great records I haven't written about yet.

Television # 5 Television (1992)

' (Marquee Moon)... achieved with two guitars, bass and drums something like what The Byrds and The Velvet Underground might have achieved if they'd been the same group.'  Nick Coleman

'Oh rose of my heart, the vision dims. The time is brief, now the shadow swims.'

1880 or So

 A different mountain now to climb. Somewhere slightly lower in the Himalayas. Television in middle age. The album actually called Television. The one no-one talks about.

In 1992 Television reformed again, out of nowhere and made another record. Not actually in response to overwhelming public demand. Their moment in every respect had long gone. Verlaine had made some solo albums in the meantime to diminishing returns  regardless of how adoring critics tried to build them up. Lloyd had made some solo records too. They received even less notice. The case apparently was closed.

In the meantime the allure of the initial quartet and their CBGB's legend and the undeniable word of mouth appeal of Marquee Moon in particular had built and built. I was one of those who fell under their spell after the actual event. It appeared very frequently, and incredibly high, on lists of the greatest albums ever made.

In some ways I came to Television through Magazine and Echo & The Bunnymen and Siouxsie & The Banshees. Listen to either of those two former bands, or The Banshees after John McGeoch bailed from Magazine and joined them, and you can hear Television loud and clear. They became a band throughout the late seventies and for the whole of the eighties, to listen to if you had any pretentions to play electric guitar or form a band that could play.

So, incredibly in the early Nineties, Television started rehearsing again, and in 1992 an album appeared. and then some TV performances, (notably on Jools Holland), interviews, and a Glastonbury performance, some way down the bill.

What did this all tell us. That Tom Verlaine sounds better playing with Richard Lloyd than he did on his own. That they could still cast a spell. That they were still not quite like any other band.

For the record I like this a lot. It works as a record on its own terms, as a really good album, without necessarily mentioning their two previous studio LPs. Though it doesn't  have a clear, apparent narrative like Marquee Moon and Adventure do. But there are some fine songs, worthy of their legend. Unlike Adventure on Wednesday when Springsteen, Petty and The Cars were mentioned, this one's all Television. Opener 1880 Or So and Call Mr. Lee are the two that seem to stand out and are the songs from the record that the band play every time they perform onstage together, which is highly occasionally nowadays.

But none of the ten songs here sounds out of place or unworthy of their legend. There's plenty of Verlaine and Lloyd sparking off each other and apparently having fun like they did in their golden days. Smith holds the whole thing together, Ficca is less flashy than he was, particularly on Marquee Moon. Verlaine still sounds wonderfully like a goat that's had its throat slit. His lyrics are still  triple entendres, About detectives, sci- fi, mysterious loves, time passing. and invisibility, a particular obsession of his. There's no disguising which band you're listening to. It strikes me as a job very well done.

The band drifted apart relatively quickly again. The 'friction' between Verlaine and Lloyd, that had made them so great but inevitably combustible in the first place is immediately apparent if you read the interview the band gave to Q Magazine at the time. They played together as a quartet occasionally in The States, The UK and elsewhere for the next decade or so. Eventually Lloyd lost patience and says that he won't play with Verlaine again.

He was replaced in the band by an old sparring partner of Verlaine's, Jimmy Rip. Generally adjudged a lesser player to Lloyd but more willing to conform to Verlaine's script. For the record Rip was in the line up when Television played the best of the three times I've seen them on a quite magical night at The Newcastle Sage about ten years back. It was really one for the ages and  though they were great all of the times I saw them I feel I can really say I've seen Television. Even though Richard Lloyd wasn't on the stage. I don't really expect to get the chance to see them again.

Verlaine and the rest of the band are in their seventies now. They were recently advertised as support for Billy Idol, a pairing and billing that seemed odd in every respect. They pulled out at a late stage, due apparently to illness. It seemed altogether for the best.

According to legend Verlaine still lives in the same flat in Manhattan that he's occupied since the Seventies. He and his band remain shrouded in mystery which is clearly the way he wants it. He rarely gives interviews or makes public appearances. He's notoriously grouchy. But I'd say he and his band are responsible for an incredible legacy. They're one of the great loves of my life and I'm not alone..

As a way of signing off on this, who better to turn to than Richard Hell. In many ways the story of Television is as much about him and his relationship with Verlaine as Tom himself or the other three. In 2013 Hell published his memoirs I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp at a point when you might easily have expected to find him long departed from this world given how he chose to conduct himself in the seventies. 

It's a fascinating if uneven read, which is what you might expect with Hell. But its Epilogue is particularly wonderful. It finds him chancing on his former foil and artistic partner on the streets of New York City where they both came in the late sixties, to make their mark:

'The other night I was walking home from a restaurant when I saw Tom Verlaine going through the dollar bins outside a used bookstore. I'd been surprised to see him there a few times in recent weeks. Usually I only spot him somewhere every two or three years.  In public he always holds himself nervously apart from everyone, meeting no eyes, as if he assumes everyone wants to accost him. His head and neck perch like a raggedly spooked hawk on the high, bulky prospect of his middle-aged body above the crowds, his eyes self-consciously focused on something in the distance. When I see him on the street I don't try to get his attention, but this time I was too curious to let the moment pass. What was he doing? The books in the dollar bin are as useless as they come - outdated text-books, forgotten mass-market trash, operating manuals. I walked up to him and asked . "Finding out anything about flying saucers?" The last time I'd spoken to him in person as opposed to a few e-mails had been seven or eight years before. "Yes, this is the Greek edition." He grinned at me, holding out a Greek-language three-volume set of some sort, proffering  it theatrically as if it were a great, but fragile and possibly dangerous prize and he was an animated cartoon, like Gumby, the way he does. He smiled something else, wide-eyed, going along with the flying saucer stuff. I replied "I hear Plato came from Pluto." He continued to smile widely. His teeth looked brown and broken in the night light, even worse than mine, (he still smokes), and his face was porous and expanded and his hair coarse gray. I turned away and walked on, shocked. We were like two monsters confiding, but that wasn't what shocked me. It was that my feeling was love. I felt grateful for him and believed in him, and inside myself I felt grateful to him and believed in him and inside myself I affirmed the way he is impossible and the way it's impossible to like him. It had never been any different. I felt as close to him as I ever did. What else do I have to believe in? I'm like him for God's sake. I am him."

There we go, Television. They're not a Prog Band. They're not a Pub Rock Band. They're not even a Punk Band. They're just a great band. They're one of the greatest bands this planet has ever seen. Of any kind. They deserve respect. One week was enough. They changed things. I hope you've enjoyed it. I did. Thanks for your comments and reactions. 

Television - The Blow Up



Improvisational and beautiful. I don't think it was ever captured on record...'
Mary Harron on Television at CBGB's

No need for me blathering on today. 

Some of Television's best moments, according to those who were there, may well have been unrecorded. As they made their name, playing between 1974 and 1976 at CBGB's. For this reason, I thought it might be an idea to check out this aspect of their existence. Recorded and released slightly later. In many ways perhaps this was their natural environment, the live one which gave them the opportunity to stretch out and improvise and astonish people.

Live albums are not always a very enjoyable listening experience for me. Certainly not if you're not a huge fan of the band concerned. Of course you had to be there really, even if it sounds like a really great night. But this one certainly works for me. They sound like a different beast in some ways.

 The recording shows something of the genuine heroism of the band, the way that Verlaine and Lloyd worked together and against each other so wonderfully. How Fred Smith anchored the sound allowing Ficca to do his thing. How they could put a show on, not quite like any other available at the time. I think you get a taste of their magical energy here. What made them so special. In some ways it's as interesting to listen to the audience's reaction as the music itself.

Fittingly, this was recorded at their spiritual home CBGB's in 1978, shortly before they split. It was initially released on cassette in 1982 on the ROIR label. Then it was given a full CD release in 1999. I lik everything on here except Knocking on Heaven's Door which never seems to fit them really. Otherwise I think it gives a proper sense of what they would have been like to witness at their peak.

* The recording of course is clearly not the best always. But I'd say it does its job.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Television - Adventure (1978)

'Television was going pretty good until we went on tour with Peter Gabriel.  We would go into record stores and not be able to find our record, which is aggravating to any artist. Then Elektra sent  over a bunch of tapes while we were out on tour. When we heard the first Cars record we said,' Uh oh. This is our music only right down the commercial alley. This is gonna take our place,' You know they're gonna sell a million of these Cars records  and they're gonna tell us that we should be like them, which is almost what happened.

We'd always been quirky. Tom writes lyrics that are like triple entendres, and he didn't have a singer's voice. I think if you slit a goat's voice it would sound like that. Anyway he would never take singing lessons, so what are you gonna do? It's not a radio friendly voice, That's for sure.'

Richard Lloyd

'When I see the glory,
I ain't got a worry...'

Now we've got that pesky Marquee Moon out of the way. What Television did next....

Not everybody liked Marquee Moon at the time. Or the gigs that Television played to promote it.in America and The UK. But I'd say the main reason why it's held up so well over the last 45 years and is still held up with such reverence by so many is in terms of the influence that it had, which was immediate and profound and continues to this day. Do you like Buzzcocks? Or Magazine? The Fall. Subway Sect. Siouxsie & The Banshees. Echo & the Bunnymen. Blue Orchids. Orange Juice. Josef K. Fire Engines, The Go-Betweens, The Smiths. Mission of Burma. R.E.M., Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, Sonic Youth. Oh alright then U2. That Petrol Emotion. One for Raymond. But Raymond can testify himself on Television's influence on That Petrol Emotion and indeed his own life. They've had an enormous impact on mine. Not just because of their records. But just as much for what Verlaine and Hell chose to do with their lives in the mid Sixties. It's difficult to imagine many of these bands I've just mentioned sounding the way that they did without Marquee Moon frankly. That record had one vast and remarkable influence on music and lives. I really don't think I'm overstating things particularlyI'll stop there but I could go on. And on. And on. Right to the current day. You can still hear young bands every day who owe a considerable debt to Television and not just in terms of their guitar sound. Just flick through your record collection. 

Marquee Moon did what it needed to in the UK but not in the States. Here it garnered respectable sales and intense critical praise though some British Punks were confused or else disdainful. 'This isn't Punk Rock' They squealed. 'These aren't the three chords that Mark Perry told us in Sniffin' Glue was all we needed to learn to form a Punk Band and leap onstage so that loads of complete strangers could gob and chuck stuff at us to show us their appreciation. Are you saying it needs to be more complicated than that?' That confusion remained in the UK for a while, particularly among those who couldn't appreciate the full possibility of options that Punk offered them musically or personally and many awaited the opportunity to administer Television, those pseudy serious types who didn't move onstage and had the nerve to seriously think they were French poets, the kicking they so richly deserved, next time they dared to visit our shores 

In some ways Marquee Moon has a claim to be the first Post Punk album although of course in 1977 it was labelled Punk. It certainly had a palpable and immediate effect and influence on young Punks who bought it, loved it and decided they wouldn't mind becoming musicians themselves. Musicians who didn't want to just play three chords and shout about how much they hated the world and wanted to make a greater artistic and personal statement. Who wanted an adventure.

Marquee Moon wasn't alone by any means in trying to explore different roads from the pack. All of the important CBGBs bands and many of the significant British bands were trying to do that in their own ways. But MM was fundamentally significant in showing a way out of the 1-2-3-4 cul de sac and make Punk a lasting statement and a genuine opportunity for a change in thinking

If you don't personally care for the record, I'd direct you to a number of records from 1977 and 1978 and beyond that had similar instincts and thank god they did. Richard Hell & The Voidoids Blank Generation, Wire's first three albumsSuicide's Suicide, The first four Talking Heads records, Pere Ubu's Modern Dance and Devo's Q: Are We Not Men A; We Are Devo. Then Slits, The Raincoats and so many others in the following years. They showed there was a different fork in the road from the one Never Mind The Bollocks, The Clash and The Ramones chose. I love those three albums too btw. Television's Adventure? Let's see. I'm not sure. I love a lot of it but it's a slightly tired record in some respects. The band's four year journey from the moment that they stepped onstage at CBGB's in 1974 had taken its toll. On relationships within the band and on the music itself.

Immediately the band toured the States with Peter Gabriel, which seemed an odd move and then elsewhere, but internally, things were fraying. Mostly in terms of the relationship between Verlaine and Lloyd. And the key factor in that seemed to be Lloyd's spiraling drug use.

This is described in detail in Please Kill Me. Lloyd had been a very heavy heroin user since pretty much the start of Television and now his drug use had allowed itself to get completely out of hand and he was doing deals with Anita Pallenberg from the back of limos on Manhattan. During the recording of Adventure he came down with enorcaditis, a drug related heart condition. He was famously photographed in the Beth Israel Hospital with a drip coming out of his arm, an image he later used for the cover of his own memoirs.

Considering these distractions, and the difficulty of following up a record as startling as their debut,  Adventure has its moments. But very few of them are Marquee Moon moments. There's a sense throughout that once you've ascended a peak as mighty and astonishing as their first album had and  was, and still is, that the only way now is down. Back to base camp. The key feeling you get from it is absence. The absence of Lloyd and the absence of Hell. First Lloyd. To colour in and flesh out Verlaine's ideas fully and give them blood and muscle. To make them breathe. Adventure is telling evidence that Television is just as much about Lloyd as it is about Verlaine, no matter what TV thought.

There are still times throughout the record that are still extraordinarily beautiful of course. These are still the same players. They still have the same basic DNA. But perhaps not the hunger. The friction has gone really. Along with the factor of Lloyd's escalating addiction. Verlaine is a hard taskmaster and perhaps his dictatorial manner had worn Lloyd down as it had Hell. They're carrying  a wounded and not fully committed player downhill for this one and it sounds a bit like it. So this feels more like a Tom Verlaine fronted record in many ways rather than a truly group effort. Which Marquee Moon always was. Ficca and Smith are able and proficient bag handlers as they always were. But they lack their  spark often here too

That's not to say that's its not very good in parts. Of course it is. But anyone who seriously wants to mount a case that it's a better one than Marquee Moon has frankly got the odds stacked against them here, You might like it more. Easily. But it feels like the thrill has gone. That they sense that it's their last album. At least for another 14 years

I love Adventure regardless. In many ways it feels like their 'day' record, in comparison with Moon's night. There's still some wonderful guitar interplay of course, characteristically wry Verlaine lyrics. Atmosphere. It's paced like Marquee Moon in many ways . Glory sounds a bit like See No Evil. Days sounds a bit like Venus. Foxhole sounds a bit like Friction, except that it's shite, while Friction is transcendental. The riff bludgeons the actual song senseless, There are longer songs where the band try to connect except for that the fact that they don't really remember how to anymore. Their moment has gone. And really, they all know it. In some ways it sounds like a hugely elegaic album. With loads of encores.

There are still some truly great Television songs here. I'd go for Glory, Days, Careful, one of their initial statement songs from their early days, (pretty much Pretty Vacant, without the pretend swearing and great chorus), Ain't That Nothing (which is certainly good enough to go on Moon), and The Dream's Dream which is one of the best end songs of any band's career that I can think of. I still find it incredibly moving. This band was about many things but it was certainly as much as anything about the sound of two guitars playing together as much as anything else. I can think of few better.

Carried Away and The Fire are pretty good songs and moods, but ultimately they sound like Television songs without Richard Lloyd who obviously didn't have the time or medical disposition to work up his parts. So, things that might have ended up on Tom Verlaine solo albums. What was the point of Television without Lloyd. Verlaine should have valued his sparring partners a bit more.

This is a great record but it's not monumental in the way that Marquee Moon was. As I'd say, it hasn't got the spark. The thrill.. Perhaps they lost something when they stopped playing CBGBs on a regular basis. But what I'd say is missing most along with Lloyd is the influence of Tom Verlaine's one true love. Richard Hell. That was everywhere on Marquee Moon. He haunted that record like an actual ghost. He's nowhere here.

Plenty used the excuse of Adventure as a stick to beat Television with though. It was very unlikely that anything would match up to a record as good as their first one, but some got disappointed that they clearly weren't  messiahs after all. That they could be predictable and formulaic like everyone also.

Then there were those who had been cynics anyway. Particularly in the UK as they had never conformed to the given Punk script. As for the music press, it was an opportunity for a field day. Most notably for Julie Burchill who I've never got the impression was very much interested in music just like Tony Parsons, her fellow gunslinger in the initial Punk days of NME. They were always on their way to the tabloids sooner or later and wrote their reviews to tailor fit that agenda.

Anyhow, Burchill never liked Television. Neither did Parsons. They slagged them off in the state of Punk book they wrote together The Boy Looked at Johnny and continued to do so thereafter. Parson slagged them off in the NME on their '77 tour with Blondie as the latter fitted better with his leather jacket look and hung out with Johnny Thunders instead, though he might not have taken so much actual heroin.

As for Burchill, she bided her time until the moment that Adventure came out. Then she wrote her trademark poisoned pen review. Did she ever do much else? Dripping with characteristic venom and bile, but precious little actual logic or critical thought, slamming the record to the canvas with a single punch. Or at least in her own mind. 

Verlaine was going bald she claimed. Shock horror. He still has a very good head of hair now actually. She called it 'acid-casualty- style gibberish' She grapples with him about knowledge about the French poets. It drags on. It's nasty stuff. It doesn't make sense. Like most of her writing. But it was interesting that the paper chose her to write it. It was time for the backlash.

The band toured the UK again. This time with The Only Ones in support (perfect). But there was a feeling that the die was cast. They toured the States one last time too. Really they lacked coherent record label support from the start. Elektra really never knew what to do with them. 

Eventually, after more American dates, they read the writing on the wall, met up and agreed to call it a day. There's no real consensus on the actual sequence of events here. Lloyd maintains the four of them met up together one evening for a meal in Chinatown when there was a full moon hanging over Manhattan. Apparently agreeing that this was a fitting moment for them to bring down the curtain as Moby Grape, (a precedent band for Television in some ways), had done a similar thing a decade before. The others disputed Lloyd's account. It was enough to further fuel the band's legend of mystery and enigma.

And then they were gone.


Some Television tunes considered for Adventure:




O Mi Amore


Foxhole on Old Grey Whistle Test. As far as I know the only television performance Television actually made in their initial run.


Julie Burchill's NME review for Adventure


A review I wrote of the record some years ago.

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 21 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Clarinet Quintet


Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 26 Lyn Collins


1983 Singles - # 25 Culture Club


Culture Club were everywhere. And while I never really felt they were doing what they were doing particularly for me, they had exactly the kind of tunes you wanted coming out of the radio.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 391 Grizzly Bear - Vecktamist


Song(s) of the Day # 3,284 R. Ring


Plenty of the inherent dark drama and flirting with the cliff's edge from Breeders Kelley Deal and her latest album War Poems, We Rested.

We know how this stuff works by now, but that doesn't make the record any less thrilling. The Deal sisters have almost cornered this particular corner of Gothic Melodrama and here'd ample evidence that they haven't forgotten how to do it.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 25 Poobah - Let Me In


1983 Singles - # 26 PiL


One of John's finest.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 210 Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 391 Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism


Song(s) of the Day # 3,283 The C.I.A.


The C.I.A. is a good name for a band. They are apparently a Ty Segal project. They sound like one. They are full of creamy, full on Ty Segall psych weirdness which fans of Ty Segall would certainly appreciate. A lot!

There's loads of the full on Rock and Roll foolishness that fans of The Cramps, Jon Spencer, Oh Sees and the like would slaver at the mouth at horribly and possibly bite off one of their own limbs for.

I've used this one before but this is the best fun you can have with your clothes on. Hunt it down. In the words of Tom: 'Pull down the future with the one you love.'

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Television - Marquee Moon (1977)



'I just thought Richard Hell was incredible. Again, I was sold another fashion victim's idea. This was not someone dressed up in red vinyl, wearing bloody orange lips and high heels. Here was a guy all deconstructed, torn down, looking like he'd crawled out of a drain hole, looking like he was covered in slime, looking like he hadn't slept in years, hadn't washed in years, and looking like no one gave a fuck about him.'

Malcolm McLaren

'Verlaine withdrew himself more and more until he saw himself as being superior all the time to everybody and everything - so that he possibly couldn't lose. Tom got horrible man. He gradually decided he lived by separate rules from everyone else. And if anything fell apart, Tom would just say that he was a misunderstood genius, and that nobody else understood him.'

Richard Hell

'I just don't like other people coming up and saying something. It immediately makes you become insincere. There is no way you can react to it sincerely.'

Tom Verlaine

'An extraordinary feat. The guitars of Tom Verlaine cross and contrast, each note planned to fit, while the rhythm section of Ficca and Smith remains dry and immaculate throughout - they punctuate not only the music but the lyrics too. As for Verlaine's songs, They're chilling, gripping, haunting and lots of other words I can't think of. The nearest rock ever got to an Austrian spook movie in black and white.'

Tom Hibbert, The Perfect Collection 

'Richie... Richie said. Come on, let's dress up like up cops. Think of what we could do...' 

'Broadway. Looked so medieval...' 


'Lightning struck itself...'

Marquee Moon 

'Fred Smith fucking quit Blondie. I was pissed. I was pissed at all of them - all of Television, all of the Patti Smith Group, and Patti and Fred. I was pissed at Patti because she talked Fred into joining Television. Boy, did he make a mistake. Ha ha ha.'

Debbie Harry

Did Fred Smith make a mistake? You decide.

I'm not planning to write so much about Marquee Moon as I have about other parts of the band's journey and story, just because I think it speaks for itself and you're probably going to love it or be rather indifferent to it. Some might even mention the dreaded 'Overrated' word. It's certainly rated extremely highly by many. You may well have made you're own mind up about it anyway. I imagine most people on here will have heard it. Or parts of it anyway. It's a pretty well known record.

Personally I don't think it's easily dismissed. There's a reason why it has such a reputation. It's the major statement of one of the major, original New York Punk bands. They were doing something quite unlike any other band around them at that point. It gave something to rally around for those for whom the two chord thrash of so much Punk on both sides of the Atlantic at that point was not enough and even rather wearing.  It made quite a splash when it came out even though it didn't necessarily shift an enormous number of actual copies at the time. It's sold pretty solidly since.

So this essentially is the band's legacy and their claim for immortality and it makes a strong one despite the fact that on the surface it's so weird in so many ways. I was thinking just that when listening to it yesterday for god knows the how many-eth time. Utterly countless the number of times I've listened to this album. Personally I really think it has every right to be considered one of the finest guitar records ever made. It's certainly kept me more that happy for the forty years I've known it and loved it. And I'm not planning of tiring of it just yet. I'll be interested to know what others think. Anyhow, back to the story.

By 1975 Television had already come a long way. 'Once the most underground of the underground, now they sport a chic notoriety.' (Duncan Hannah). But the friendship and partnership that had sparked, inspired and driven them was now on its last legs. Eventually, having had his songs dropped from the set one by one and his bass playing ceaselessly disparaged, Richard Hell had little choice but to leave the band he had co-formed. He duly did so in  and formed The Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of The New York Dolls pretty much immediately.

Although Hell left rather than being fired, it was a de facto coup on Verlaine's part to get the sound and sensibility he wanted. Lloyd was always a significant force within Television but he didn't go back as far with Verlaine as Hell had, and anyhow the band name shared Verlaine's initials, which was probably never entirely accidental. From now on, Tom was in charge. Fred Smith needed little persuasion to leave Blondie, generally perceived as the runts of the CBGB's litter and join Television. A far superior musician to Hell, Lloyd said the difference in terms of the quality of the band's sound was immediately apparent and frankly, they were simply a different band from now on.

The band's profile and reputation were growing. Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent spread the word about them in the NME. Malcolm McLaren, who managed the Dolls in their disastrous final months, was immediately enraptured by Hell's attitude, look and sensibilities when Television supported them, and tried, unsuccessfully to persuade him to come back to London with him to front the Pistols, who were beginning to warm up and hadn't met Rotten yet. Hell turned the invitation down.

In October '75, came their first official release. Little Johnny Jewel, a song split, over two 7 inch sides which showed just how unorthodox and startlingly original they were. Released on Terry Ork's own label, it was one of the oddest initial vinyl debut releases ever made. Surely intended as a statement to fan the mystery and enigma of the band more that one to make a commercial splash, Lloyd actually left the band in protest for a week or so and was replaced by Pere Ubu's Peter Laughner. an indication of how brittle band relations could be within the band. Verlaine had even considered replacing Ficca, towards the end of Hell's time in the band and had held unsuccessful auditions with that end in mind. A decision I find completely impossible to comprehend. Firstly the two were good friends and never mind that, Ficca is a quite phenomenal drummer.

As for Little Johnny Jewel itself:

'Johnny Jewel is how people were, maybe two hundred years ago,' says Verlaine. 'Back then, when people got up in the morning, they knew what they had to do to get through the day. - there were 100% less decisions, Nowadays we have to decide what we want to buy in grocery stores, what job to take, what work to do. But not Johnny.  For him it's all there - it's a freer state. That's what my music is looking for. To understand Johnny, you should think of William Blake. He was the same kinda guy.'  

Tom Verlaine

It must have sounded outstandingly weird to the curious on its arrival on import in the UK in mid-76. On the surface, a tribute to James Jewel Osterberg, (Iggy Pop), its narrative is distinctly other worldly, a proclamation of difference and individuality. 

Still unsigned by a major, while most of the original CBGB's bands had been before them, generally on bad deals. Television stood back, waiting for an offer that suited them. Considered by Atlantic Records for a whilepresent Armet Ertegun said, 'this is not earth music.' It's not difficult to understand exactly why labels might have held back, wondering exactly how they were going to go about actually selling this stuff. Eventually they opted for Elektra Records, which seemed a natural fit given the label's original roster of the likes of Love, The Doors and Tim Buckley all of whom you might listen to and be able to make some tentative connections with Television to from their music. The band went into Mill Studio in New York in September 1976 to start work on their first album..

Given their initial experience with Eno, they knew exactly how they wanted it to sound. Very little was recorded apart from the songs that eventually made the eight track running list. Andy Johns, brother of Glyn, who engineered the record, had worked on The Stones' Exile on Main Street and several Led Zep records. Pretty much everything that Glyn produced,  Andy had worked on too.

The songs had been refined and honed to the nth degree over their years of rehearsing and playing in CBGB's which made it sound quite unlike any album previously recorded, although it could easily considered a companion piece to Patti Smith's debut Horses, (from two years previously), which adopts a not dissimilar approach. With the addition of Fred Smith they now had the line up Verlaine had been working for, with Smith and Lloyd coming from more a more conventional Rock approach and Verlaine and Ficca taking a more Jazz inflected, improvisational slant..

The record still has an odd, full on, intense chemistry. It's a twisted, twitching world in itself. A whole new universe, though some may not take to it. Grounded essentially on the guitar interplay between Verlaine and Lloyd, interlocking and swapping melodic and rhythmic parts, it takes you to a place that few other records do. It's all atmosphere. The lyrics meanwhile are astounding, somewhere between the Symbolist poetry that Verlaine devoured in his formative years and the goofy, off the wall 'be bo' talk as he describes it in opening track See No Evil.  I've been playing it constantly for almost forty years now and it still sounds incredibly fresh even though I know it back to front.  In Lloyd's words: 'There was a certain magic happening, an inexplicable certainty of something, like the momentum of a freight train. That's not egoism, but if you cast a spell, you don't get flummoxed by the results of your spell.'

It would be pointless and unnecessary for me to try to review the record. I couldn't really do a good job on it. Blessed with an incredible cover from Robert Mapplethorpe, a picture of the band that captures so much of their mystery and enigma, it really needs to be heard first and foremost and anyhow, Nick Kent wrote one of the best and best known album reviews of all for the NME when the record was released in February 1977.

I just love Kent's review. If the record means much to you I urge you to read it because it's probably the best album review I know of. It quite consciously attempts to read the way the record sounds, in an almost hallucinatory manner and I think it's staggering. Given the degree to which the notoriously drug addled Kent must have been intoxicated when he wrote it, it really is some achievement

The band  made the cover of that week's issue of NME, even though it didn't include an actual interview with the band. In the words of music journalist Barney Hoskyns, 'pale boys on masse sloped out to buy it.' I love it from start to finish. I think it deserves to be heard every time at a single sitting. All I would say for fear of boring anyone with comments on every track, is I simply don't understand why See No Evil wasn't chosen as a single. I know very little about the genesis of this song. It seemed to appear between the recording of the Eno sessions and those of Marquee Moon. As with the decision to put out Little Johnny Jewel as their debut rather than something more immediate like Double Exposure it seems rather contrary to opt for Prove It instead and I wonder whether Verlaine was behind the decision. I love Prove It. It's a weird, quirky, funny Pop song. But surely See No Evil would have swept all before it and it's clearly deeply Punk. Why not release it at the height of Punk? Another Television riddle within a riddle.

Marquee Moon made quite a splash at the time, even though it didn't sell an enormous number of copies. It reached Number 28 in the UK albums charts and the title track and Prove It, both flirted with the lower reaches of the singles charts. Television toured the UK later in the year with Blondie which must have been an incredible experience for UK Punk fans hungry to hear the New York sound that they'd read so much about in the music papers for a couple of years. Its reception in the US was more muted outside the underground scene and it hardly made a dent sales wise .Most people at the UK gigs massively preferred either Blondie or Television and the latter apparently, were not the most supportive headliners, cramming Blondie into a small part of the stage in their support slots possibly through fear of their audience preferring them. Blondie by all accounts were getting pretty damned good now.  

This has been recognised as a true landmark record since and regularly features highly in lists of the best albums ever made. It's also made its way into the collections of people like us, (a reason I was slightly surprised there hadn't been a Television immersion on here before), even though some of us probably play it more than others. Despite some of the other great things the band released, it remains their ultimate statement. Enjoy it for what it is. Whatever you think, it will outlive us all. My take. It's a work of absolute Art. In the best meaning of the word. I don't think of many records in that way.

There you go. And all without using the word seminal once.



Nick Kent's 1977 review of Marquee Moon


How to play See No Evil on Drums


How to play Venus on guitar

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 20 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Don Giovanni


Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 24 Annette Peacock - I'm The One


1983 Singles - # 27 The Verlaines


'It's a great record, Two self-absorbed aesthetes wander the streets if Dunedin, indulgently imagining they are the protagonists in a psychodrama of their own making, drenched in the perfumed insolence of the French symbolists.' Stewart Lee. Stewart knows.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 209 The Master Musicians of Jajouka - Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 392 Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Like Bad News


Song of the Day # 3,282 The Southgates


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 19 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart --Piano Concerto Minor on D Minor


Mojo 1972 Nuggets # 23 The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson - The Politicians Featuring McKinley Jackson


1983 Singles - # 28 The Thompson Twins


There was once a time I might have been a bit sniffy about putting The Thompson Twins in a chart of mine. Not anymore. It's just great Pop Music. 1983 was the year they slimmed down and broke big.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 208 Shirley Collins & The Albion Country Band - No Roses


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 393 Sly & The Family Stone - There's a Riot Going On


Song(s) of the Day # 3,281 Nighttime


Hear come Nighttime from New York's upper state Hudson Valley. With their latest album Keeper is the Heart which does that female fronted Psych Folk Hauntology thing that's been so prevalent in recent years. 

 I'm not really complaining. I like this kind of thing. I've very much enjoyed recent records by Heather Trost, MOLLY and Aoife Nessa Frances and this is definitely in that ballpark. Lets all put our long frocks on and dance around the forest tonight at midnight in our bare feet.

That stuff's a lot of fun and so in this. It's an excellent album that does everything it intends to. I don't know how often I'll listen as the one thing it doesn't seem to want to do is break the rules of its given genre to any truly daring degree, But it'll certainly tide me over until the new Meg Baird record shows up.

Television - The Eno Sessions



'What's really fun is to write under different names.'

Tom Verlaine

'When you're young, you don't especially think of yourself as being young. You're just alive and everything's interesting and you don't think of things in terms of age because you're not conscious of it.'

Richard Hell

'Prove it. Just the facts,'

Prove It

'I mean some people climb Mount Everest, are they less nuts? People die on Mount Everest - they get frostbite, they come out with no hands, no toes, dead, they get crushed by avalanches. Other people get shot to the moon and blown up in a space shuttle. For what? To float in weightlessness and look back on earth?

So I took things that made you do that without going anywhere. Yes, people died, but was it any more insane than the pursuits that are put on pedestals by ordinary human beings?'

Richard Lloyd, talking to Legs McNeil about choosing drugs in  Please Kill Me

Some time in 1973 Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell cut their hair in New York. Shortly afterwards a lot of other people begin to do the same. Even as far away as in London. Then, at some point in 1976 Punk happens. And nothing has ever been quite the same again since. An oversimplification of course. But there's some germ of truth to it, if you're looking to find out the genesis of Punk, both in the States and in the UK. This makes a change from the standard stories about Malcolm McLaren and Johnny Rotten and Iggy & The Stooges playing The Scala in 1972.

Verlaine and Hell, then Miller and Meyers, met in High School in Delaware in the Mid-Sixties. They detected similar urges and drives in each other to break free from everything that was mapped out for them, walked out of the school gates one day, and had a much mythologised adventure together over the following days. Hitch hiking across a number of states towards the Florida border, taunted by rednecks along the way, they worked each other up into a giddy state one night in a remote field in Alabama, started a fire in a fit of youthful rebellion, and got picked up by the local cops, (not the police in the case of Television, definitely 'cops'), and taken back to Delaware. The incident formed a lasting bond between the two, and inspired first Meyers then Miller to relocate to New York in the mid to late Sixties, and plot a future for themselves as outsider poets and then musicians, while keeping  themselves going with a series of jobs in bookstores and the like.  

Heavily influenced by Nineteenth century French literary aestheticism, which led them to change their surnames in tribute to Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, music began to take precedence over writing as a more natural path towards making the splash and getting the attention they both craved. Verlaine was an able and original guitarist, who gigged occasionally in local venues where Hell attended and supported him as much a stylist and kindred spirit as a friend in the conventional sense. Theirs was certainly a Love / Hate affair given their contrasting personalities. Hell, a full, on upfront, prototype Punk, Verlaine a much more reserved, reflective character with an aloof demeanor and slightly haughty manner. Both seemed to complement each other though, filling in for each others failings and complementing each other's strengths. For a few years at least they were rarely seen apart and must have made an immediate impression on New York's alternative scene. In Hell's words: 'We would go to Max's and be like spies. We were inseparable.' It's worth noting that Verlaine was also actually born a twin, his brother died when he was in his mid thirties, a part of his history that has never fully been explored.

Round about this point, Verlaine taught Hell the basic rudiments of playing bass guitar. Eventually the two became sufficiently organised to lay down some tracks together as The Neon Boys, roping in Billy Ficca a drummer Verlaine had known in Delaware. The tracks, Love Comes In Spurts (a title Hell would use again with the Voidoids), and That's All I Know Right Now, sound like nothing so much as Punk, well before Punk. Trebly, ragged and incredibly uptight, they're clearly not the finished article, but gave a very good idea of what both men would become both musically and in terms of the sensibility they would come to project.  Also they give a strong indication of what early Television might have sounded like on record, had they continued to maintain an equally democratically distributed mode of attack and Verlaine not seized almost complete control and ultimately ejected Hell from the band altogether.

'It used to be that artists thought of nature as their environment. Now media is our environment. It has been for the past 50, 70 years. It's what you see on TV, on the computer, what is in the magazines and newspapers.'

Richard Hell

'Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell were very calculating , grownup, determined  people. Everyone else was just kind of blundering into everything, but they were different. I thought they were beatniks.'

Dee Dee Ramone

From there they proceeded to plan a more long term project by auditioning guitarists as a foil for Verlaine in a proper band. Chris Stein, (later of Blondie), and Dee Ramone were tried out apparently and found wanting. By chance another guitarist, Richard Lloyd, who' had recently arrived in town, saw Verlaine play a solo gig at the recommendation of Terry Ork, who went on to manage the band. He watched Hell, (who of course was along in support), tear a hole in Verlaine's shirt to improve his look. Once he started, Lloyd recognised that his style would complement what Verlaine was doing. Pretty soon afterwards he signed up. along with Ficca, Television  was chosen as a name representative of the age and the cast was set.

'I was up on a ladder in front of the club, fixing the awning in place, when I looked down to notice three scruffy dudes in torn jeans and T shirts looking up at me inquisitively.' 

                                                                     Hilly Kristal .

Effectively this is the myth of origin for CBGB's and much of American Punk Rock. The three inquisitive guys were Verlaine, Hell and Lloyd. Other accounts say it was just Verlaine and Lloyd. It doesn't really matter. What does is that they started playing on Sunday nights at the club shortly afterwards, opening the door for others like The Ramones, Blondie and The Patti Smith Group . The scene gathered pretty rapid word of mouth momentum and growing audiences, and spread to other venues over the coming weeks and months while the bands, many of them complete novices when they first hit the stage, started attracting good reviews and record company interest.

Television by all accounts were ramshackle and amateurish when they first started playing CBGBs. Certainly according to Hilly, who never really had many nice things to say to say about about them. But they certainly had charisma:

'Onstage Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine looked like they could blow up at any minute - like they were just trying to keep the peace. Sometimes they'd have a fight onstage. It would be like a Sunday night, there'd only be like fifteen people there, and someone would play something wrong, and Tom Verlaine would start yelling at Richard. 'Ah, fuck you.' And Richard would yell back, 'Don't take it so seriously asshole.'

Duncan Hannah, Please Kill Me

'I thought Television was fabulous. The arms of Richard Hell and the neck of Tom Verlaine were so entrancing that I needed no more, art, music, life, love or poetry to make me happy after that. They were the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. The skin between the two of them... they had the most perfect skin in the world. Tom Verlaine's skin and Richard Hell's skin were in a class like 'God made that and then threw away the skin formula. Then there was Richard Lloyd. Who I fucked.'

Danny Fields, Please Kill Me

The Hell / Verlaine Television are much documented. In print and on bootlegs where there are many, many songs that were never recorded and are well worth hearing. To my knowledge they were only captured on film once. Rehearsing in Ork's loft in their earliest days, a document that remained unavailable for many years. They had a ragged, Garage sound where you could detect elements of The Yardbirds, The Who, The 13th Floor Elevators, (they do a great cover of their Fire Engine on here), other Nuggets bands and the Psychedelic San Francisco guitar scene. A lot less streamlined and orchestrated than the later Television sound. They weren't polished at all which you could say they eventually became. They were probably a lot more immediately exciting. Certainly more recognisably Punk. 

I'd say today's recording puts to sleep the myth that Television weren't Punk. Perhaps the argument is not so clear from the point at which Marquee Moon came out. From that point onwards they are playing well, in a way that few of their contemporaries can. They trade in long, extended guitar solos . Not the kind you might expect from The Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead, but long guitar solos nevertheless. That's not very Punk according to British punks of the time, certainly not those who really like UK Subs and Sham 69. But the Television when Hell was in them have a claim to not only being the first Punk band but also one of the very best as well as one of the most influential and significant. The tension between Hell, Verlaine and also Lloyd that informs their music throughout and makes some of it so very special, is also very, very Punk.

I find this early period of CBGB's so fascinating, at a time when it really had very few punters when it was still deep, deep underground. This was largely because it was in a part of New York, in the Bowery on the Lower East Side  that you really didn't want to find yourself in late at night, because it was so run down and frankly downright dangerous, although many of the people there were hobos and homeless and so out of their minds and strung out that you could probably get in and out safely most evenings if you kept your wits about you. New York as a whole was a pretty dangerous place wherever you were in those days. I'm sure you've seen Taxi Driver. Early Television capture a lot of that thrill even though theirs is generally a fictionalised, stylised, almost cartoon version of Manhattan. But they do express that danger. The sense that you're never quite sure what's going to happen next.

There's very little filmed documentation of CBGB's between '74 and '76 so for the most part you're reliant on word of mouth accounts, magazine and newspaper articles and bootlegs, before the bands and artists put out their first records. But it seems like the most incredible place to be that you could possibly imagine. Of living completely and utterly in the 'now'. And having been to New York a few times myself I'd say there's nowhere in the world better suited for quite that kind of utter hedonism.

I could write a lot about that whole thing, but I wasn't there, so you're best referred to the ultimate oral account from those who were - Please Kill Me, by Legs McNeil and Gillian McNeill who interview and get down the front line reportage from those who were. It's my favourite music book by a long way and nails wonderfully exactly how exciting these days would have been if that was the kind of thing that excites you. I found it a visceral experience to read and go back to it every few years. The abiding moral message appears to be, just don't take too many drugs if you want to get through the whole experience intact. Plenty don't. Both Lloyd and Hell embraced the whole drug experience with great relish while Verlaine apparently was always wary of losing control of his senses altogether, though he's been a lifelong nicotine addict, a chain smoker, apparently to this day.

Anyway, back to the main plot. Apparently, what drove a wedge between Hell and Verlaine was firstly musicianship. Hell barely rehearsed and never got much more proficient. Verlaine was harbouring ambitions of something more sophisticated and complex. But there were other factors too. Hell's distractions. increasing junk habit and string of flings with CBGB's scene people. The way he insisted on jumping and goofing around onstage when Verlaine just wanted him to stand still and try to play properly. Lloyd diving into drugs with wild abandon himself. And by all accounts Verlaine's ballooning egotism and difficulty to work with once he started going out with Patti Smith who was immediately entranced by the band, and him in particular. The two groups played together on a regular basis over the next couple of years like sister and brother bands. They had similar preoccupations and literary obsessions and were stylistically complementary. And Patti and Tom fancied each other rotten. 

'Patti Smith just came up to me and said,' I want him. I want Tom Verlaine. He has such an Egon Schiele look.' She just told me, 'You gotta get that boy for me.'

It was pretty cut and dry. So I told Tom. He was pretty enamored with Patti as a poet and scenemaker. I guess he knew that she was gonna get signed to a record deal.. Plus, I guess he liked her physically. I mean they had the same kind of body structure.'

                                                                    Terry Ork,  Television manager, Please Kill Me

Television were soon ready to join a record label themselves, although they took a while to actually sign to one. David Bowie, Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry all came down to see them play and were highly impressed, which led to some paranoia on Verlaine's part that the sharks were gathering to steal his sound. One night they had to confiscate a tape recorder Reed had brought into CBGB's with him to record their set. Eventually there was enough interest from Island for them to agree to record with Brian Eno producing, which we're going to listen to today. Some of the songs here ended up on their first two albums, but by no means all of them.

In theory Eno and Television should have been a marriage made in heaven. Producing a record or at least demos to rival those produced by John Cale for The Modern Lovers which only came out years after they'd been recorded and immediately gathered cult status for themselves. I certainly think they're good enough in terms of quality to have merited some kind of release. But it seems Brian and Tom didn't really get on and it certainly wasn't what Tom wanted anyhow and personally I'm glad that he kept Venus, Friction, Marquee Moon and Prove It until he was completely happy with them.

'In the beginning Verlaine was quiet, nervy and a little overawed by Brian's enthusiasm. On the second night he began to assert himself. I realised that he knew exactly what he wanted... On the last night Verlaine pulled me aside. He was unhappy about the way it had gone. He wanted the band to sound professional.'

Richard Williams From The Velvets to the Voidoids

As for me, I like it. In many ways just as much as I like the later Television studio albums. As a devotee I'm happy to hear as many versions of Venus and Friction as I can. These are obviously demo versions but I wouldn't say I prefer the later recorded versions to these. They're products of different bands and in many ways you can hear the seeds of the British Indie sound here. Buzzcocks, Magazine, Subway Sect, Orange Juice. Also an early version of Marquee Moon. They just have a sound and sensibility that I love, pure and simple. Also there are some songs here that were never officially recorded and I can't for the life of me understand why not. Hard on Love for example. That's just fabulous. As for Double Exposure. How catchy and immediate is that. Like the early Who transported from London to the Lower East Side. Astonishing that this wasn't their debut single and Verlaine chose Little Johnny Jewel instead.  Lloyd left for a short while over that decision and in some ways he was right to. I love Little Johnny Jewel but Television could have been a more commercial proposition than Verlaine always allowed them to be. 

'Tom Verlaine was very priggish; he didn't smoke marijuana, inject heroin and he didn't even drink that much. I think Verlaine was scared of any derangement of the senseless and Hell was just the opposite. He would just luxuriate in it.

Tom Verlaine was a very bright boy, very learned, but there was some tightness within him. He was just so tightly wound. He was always concerned about men coming onto him. I mean he was pretty, but I think he didn't really know what life was about. He had accrued experience books - it was all read and not lived. He was very naive in a lot of ways. As opposed to Richard Hell who had both feet in the ooze.

Hell was definitely the one thinking in subversive terms. Hell was always the one who had the most awareness of what the text was trying to denote. Hell was a boulevard surrealist, groping for the breakthrough, the one grasping for liberation.'

                                                                          Terry Ork

I don't think Lloyd brought many songs to Television over the years. I get the feeling he was too busy doing drugs and enjoying the whole experience as much as he could to get round to it. But he certainly brought something to every song, and his contribution was often not fully credited by Verlaine, something that Lloyd resented increasingly over the years. Anyway, he was certainly as much responsible for what was glorious about Television as Verlaine, and Tom was never as good without him. Or Ficca, Hell and Fred Smith for that matter. Tom and his Richeys! Who lived the life that perhaps he'd have loved to live himself, but was either not brave enough or too smart to depending on how you choose to look at it. His Billy. His Fred. He actually considered kicking Ficca out of the band for a while and held auditions with that aim in mind. Much as I love him, he's a strange, contrary and paranoid man. He would have been an idiot to sack Ficca because Billy is just the drummer that Television need. All five of Television's members are semi-miraculously still with us I'm pleased to say. But they're highly unlikely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame any time soon. Even though they deserve to be. They more than likely wouldn't all show up anyway.

Another interesting point. I've been to New York three times so far and always had the most incredibly exciting time there. Much more so than London, where I was raised and spent much of my life. New York is completely charged, everything seems to be at stake and fluid. Especially sexuality. Television is one of the band's where that dialogue is clearly alive. I've never really read anything about that aspect of the band but it's seemed clear to me that there's something going on in that respect. The incredible tension in the band's music. Prove It. I can't prove it Something to think about anyhow. Another pathway to explore for this most fascinating of bands. That subtext is also certainly all over Patti Smith's Horses too. Particularly on tracks like Redondo Beach and Land. Never mind the cover.

What is evident from the song selection of these demos though is that Hell's days in the band are numbered. The alliance that he and Verlaine had formed back in Delaware in High School all those years ago was about to be severed and frankly it was going to be ugly. At the start of the band, he and Verlaine had divided songwriting responsibilities pretty equally. Once Hell's signature tune Blank Generation was dropped too shortly after this , there was nowhere for him to go but out of the band. Onwards from there to The Heartbreakers, The Voidoids and Television Mk II.

Note: The recorded version of the Little Johnny Jewel signature is on the end of this. I'll post this again tomorrow, when we come to talk about that.


The Neon Boys:  Love Comes in Spurts & That's All I Know Right Now 


Patti Smith writes about early Television for Soho weekly: http://www.thewonder.co.uk/psmith.htm 

The Terry Ork Loft Tapes:  To my knowledge the only recorded visual documentation of Television when Hell was playing with them. Rehearsing in manager Terry Ork's loft sometime in 1974. I found the text underneath the recording very interesting. The playing is very screechy, at times almost unlistenable and Hell is a very, very poor player. But it's an incredible document. It was kept off YouTube for many years for some reason. Watch in its entirety if you're very brave. I'd suggest dipping in and out to get the general idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srn98FdXI4E&t=272s 

Television: The Blank Generation What Richard Hell brought to the table. The anthem of New York Punk, and title track of Hell and The Voidoids 1977 debut album. Much easier to draw a straight line to UK Punk than anything Verlaine came up with. Verlaine was in many ways an aesthete and there was very little of what happened in London between 1975 and 1977 that was really about aesthetics, (early on maybe). :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqsDXmmaEAk 

Based on this 50's spoof single which helps you get why Dee Dee Ramone called Hell and Verlaine beatniks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5-HlUAOjGE