Perfect Debut Albums: Television "Marquee Moon"
Posted by Bo Ellegaard on November 23, 2020 0 Comments
The term "The Perfect Debut Album" is not something the serious record buyer would use lightly or often for that matter.
The recording artist must earn this accolade by simply doing the impossible: carefully choosing the first batch of songs for the debut album from the set list. This should not be too difficult as you must have at least 15-20 or more good songs to chose from before a record company believes in you let alone sign you.
But..."good" songs are not nearly enough- they must be excellent! And the record company then? The bottom line is that any company- record or otherwise- just want a profit from their investment!
The artistic side of the music business is up to the artist and- if you are lucky- the record company's A/R man (artist and repertoire) for pieces of good advice regarding your future career.
Then the whole recording process begins: from finding a suitable studio, working with an understanding producer, hopefully a skilled engineer is able to get the songs down on tape and then band and producer decide the final mix for the mastertape.
Cutting (an art form in itself!), pressing of the vinyl and printning of record covers goes without saying but is left for others to do. Before you get the product for the music press to review and the public to buy.
You can imagine that any of these stages can go wrong thereby ruining the end product: the vinyl album.
Good reviews doesn't necessarily guarantee good sales but of course the artist hopes for both.
I have been thinking of doing some research for my upcomming blog posts on "perfect debut albums". Of course it will be my very own personal choises and as usual I invite readers to argue with me!!
For my first scrutiny I have chosen "Marquee Moon" by Television released in the US in 1978 (Sire 7E-1098).
What I find that qualifies this debut album as "perfect" is its overall sound of an already mature effort of all the band members in total control when recording these songs. They knew exactly what they wanted and went for this bright treble-ish sound that became their hallmark.
Also "Marquee Moon"s combination of melody and lyrics but not least the sympathetic guitar-soloing of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine.
You can almost call this a battle between Richard Lloyd's more conventionallly played guitar versus the intentionally anti-hero antics of guitar genious Tom Verlaine. "Genious" used here as a term to describe the inventor rather than the technically superiour guitarist!
Add to this the stabile rhythm section of Billy Ficca and Fred Smith.
But what really hits me when listening to this album even today is its sheer power. Not punk (too clever) definitely not 70's classic rock (too odd) but a fresh new sound found in the streets of New York. This must be just how they sounded live at CBGB's circa 1975-6: the nerve(ousness) in Tom Verlaine's ideosyncratic voice (arguably an aquired taste- but try, you won't regret!). The sound of two bright Fender guitars gloriously entwined plus rock steady bass and drums. Just brilliant!
But as it happened a hard act to follow- after the release of 1978's "Adventure" they split up same year!
Tom Verlaine has had a solo career since when not revitalising Television over the years.
I know Television's music has been categorized as (NY)punk but heard today "Marquee Moon" sounds like an alternative rock album from the seventees!
With "Marquee Moon" Television set the standard for many of the bands emerging in the late 70's like (early) Blondie, The Feelies and label mates The Talking Heads and The Modern Lovers.
I recommend that if you have never heard "Marquee Moon" go ahead and do so- I'm sure you won't be disappointed!
Ps next "perfect debut album" for scrutiny will be "Dire Straits" by (you guessed it!) Dire Straits also from 1978, so stay tuned!!
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