Song of the Day: Television – “Venus”

Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine are not necessarily household names. Even the moderate rock fan might not recognize them immediately, but any fan of punk music worth his or her salt knows the name “Television.” Though Television was not terribly well known during their late-70’s initial heyday, their 1978 album Marquee Moon has built a serious cult following between now and then. Marquee is the kind of album that rock critics and musicians love. Verlaine’s sneering vocals predict the founding of hardcore and alternative rock. The rhythm section of Billy Ficca and Fred Smith (formerly Richard Hell) could handle complex time signatures with ease. Ultimately, though, Richard Lloyd’s lead guitar work is the standout here. Lloyd (who celebrated his 65th birthday last week) is a perfect compliment to Verlaine’s style and manages to drop some classic guitar lines within the technical confines of punk. I thought I’d share “Venus,” one of the many standout songs on Marquee Moon (really, all of them) as an introduction for the uninitiated.  Though Marquee Moon is a seminal genre album in the world of punk, it really stands alone as a bridge between punk and progressive rock. Some of the songs on this record (particularly the lengthy title track) have multiple movements and sections. Television clearly had aspirations to go beyond the standard stuff that was coming out of New York at that time, and they managed to leave a sizable impact on music that keeps delivering several decades later.

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