With the sudden flow of interest in the New York punk rock scene, record companies seemed to be forming overnight to sign new bands. Hoping for some airplay on the radio and the possibility of building a fan base, albums by bands like The Dead Boys, Talking Heads, The Shirts, Richard Hell & The Void Oids were being released almost daily. I bought them all because I was hooked on this new sound. Every album by these bands offered something new and exciting.
The suburban rock fans absolutely hated the whole punk scene. It was like poison to them. They not only hated it, they wanted to kill every artist and hated everyone who listened to it, or so it seemed. It was impossible to turn anyone into a fan. you either got it or you didn’t. Mad Jim stayed away from it. He never caught the bug.
Punk concerts were a danger. Many of these new bands would try to open for the mainstream rock bands, only to get booed and have bottles thrown at them. They had a home in a place in the Bowery called CBGB. A dingy little bar on the lower east side of Manhattan. It was a piss stained, sticky floored, smelly disgusting place that felt like a fire hazard. Wonderful. The other venue that welcomed the punks was Max’s Kansas City. An upscale version of CBGB but just as grungy, in a good way.
Nipo and the gang of punks at Record Stop were as puzzled as I was as to why this wasn’t catching on.
Another Thursday night and Nipo is excited, once again, about a new NYC band that have been around the scene since it’s inception and finally released their first album. The band was Television. The album was “Marquee Moon”
This album was so good it had to break the scene wide open. Or so we were convinced. It had guitar solos, technique and long songs. Something that was clearly missing in just about every punk release. It had to be the bridge that would bring NY punk to the masses, right?
Nope. It failed, just like all the others. To this day I don’t know why.
Nowadays, Television are considered visionaries. Bands like The Strokes hail them as their biggest influence.
Tom Verlaine’s vocals and strange lyrics were the center of the band. Verlaine and Richard Lloyd shared the guitar work that was so unusual compared to the typical guitarists of the era. It had a street feel and a raw energy that hadn’t been explored. Television had a certain sound that the other bands lacked. The only one that came close was Patti Smith, who I plan on discussing at length later.
The Ramones and The Dead Boys were the dumb side of punk (on purpose), but Television, Talking Heads and Patti Smith supplied the sophisticated side. Smart, poetic, with an artistry that expanded the horizons of the whole movement.
“Marquee Moon” is an amazing album and should be in every rock fan’s collection. It’s interesting, musically innovative and one of the finest albums to come out in the 70’s. They followed it up with a mediocre album called “Adventure” and sadly broke up shortly after.
Tom Verlaine came out with some solo albums but none matched that triumphant debut.