Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Television are an American rock and roll band of the 1970s. Most histories of punk rock now acknowledge that they were among the first bands to which the label was applied, although the press in New York initially classified the band as "new wave." They remain influential, and their debut album Marquee Moon is often seen as a vital, important release.
In contrast with "punk rock" in general, which took its cue from other bands (particularly the Ramones) associated with CBGB in New York City and amateur performance practices, many critics consider Television's music to be proficient, experimental, and abstract. Many fans, in retrospect, choose to categorize Television as post punk, despite the fact that Marquee Moon was released in early 1977.
On Marquee Moon, the group comprised Tom Verlaine (vocals and guitar), Richard Lloyd (guitar), Fred Smith (bass guitar) and Billy Ficca (drums). Though Verlaine and Lloyd were, respectively, "lead" and "rhythm" guitarists, they often rendered such labels obsolete: "Lloyd was the guitarist who affected the tonality of the music more often than not, and Verlaine and the rhythm section the ones who gave the ear its anchor and familiar musical elements. Listen only to Lloyd, and you can hear some truly off the wall ideas being played." (Handa)
An early version of the group, The Neon Boys , included Verlaine, Ficca, and bassist/singer Richard Hell. The group lasted from late 1972 to early 1973, and recorded a few singles. Hell and Verlaine were childhood friends who had moved to New York together in 1972.
In late 1973, the trio reformed, calling themselves Television. They recruited Lloyd as a second guitarist and began performing. Later, Hell left the group; he would later form his own influential bands The Heartbreakers in 1975, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids a year later.
While Hell was still in the band, Television earned a reputation as an impressive live act; their large fan base was enough to persuade CBGB's owner Hilly Crystal to give Television a regular Saturday night gig at his club, which had previously been devoted to country music, bluegrass and blues music. Television was perhaps the first "punk rock" group to perform at the club, which was to become, along with Max's Kansas City, the epicenter of the infant punk scene. Indeed, the members of Television constructed the first stage at CBGB's.
From its release, Televion's first album Marquee Moon has been received positively by music critics and audiences. In 1977, Roy Trakin wrote in the SoHo Weekly, "forget everything you've heard about Television, forget punk, forget New York, forget CBGB's...hell, forget rock and roll--this is the real item." More recently, Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes the album was "revolutionary" and "comprised entirely of tense garage rockers that spiral into heady intellectual territory, which is achieved through the group's long, interweaving instrumental sections."
Television split up after their second album, Adventure. The band members had traditionally had very independent and strongly held artistic visions, making the band's career somewhat spotty. The band broke up after Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine decided to pursue solo careers in 1978, but Richard Hell was the first to depart the band. They briefly reformed for an eponymous third album in 1992. The band split again after the tour supporting the third album.
After being wooed back onstage together for the 2001 All Tomorrow's Parties at Camber Sands, England , they have played a number of dates around the world, and continue to play occasional New York dates and tour on an irregular basis.
- Tom Verlaine — lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Richard Lloyd — guitar, vocals
- Richard Hell — bass, lead vocals (left in 1975)
- Fred Smith — bass, vocals (joined in 1975)
- Billy Ficca — drums
- Marquee Moon (1977)
- One of the most highly acclaimed albums of the punk era, reissued 2003 with bonus material.
- Adventure (1978)
- Known more to fans than the general public, charted in the US, also reissued 2003 with bonuses.
- The Blow-Up (1982; recorded 1978)
- A live bootleg of inferior quality that nevertheless captures some excellent performances.
- Television (1992)
- Live at the Old Waldorf (2003; recorded 1978)
- Recorded from a radio broadcast on their 1978 tour, This album is recently remastered, officially released, clean sound quality; far superior fidelity to The Blow-Up.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, "Marquee Moon", AllMusic.com , http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:pay67ub0h0j0~T1
- Handa, Al , "Television's Marquee Moon", May 1996, Furious.com , http://www.furious.com/perfect/tv12.html
- Trakin, Roy , "Artificial Paradise," SoHo Weekly News, March 24, 1977, pg. 41.
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