George Starostin's Reviews



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Michael and Priscilla Bloom <> (04.02.2001)

Both guitarists were tremendous soloists. Lloyd was responsible for the solos in "See No Evil," "Elevation," and "Guiding Light," as well as that first turbulent solo in Marquee Moon itself. I think you've also misconstrued how some of the rhythm guitar parts work: in "See No Evil," the "doubletracked" lick is in fact just one guitar playing double stops, two notes at once, while the other guitar (presumably Verlaine, since he also had to sing at the same time) is just playing a power chord. Your comparing their guitar interplay to the Dead is reasonable, but I would also encourage you to go back and listen to Quicksilver Messenger Service with Marquee Moon in mind, both for the snarling quality both bands expressed and their flamenco-like note choice.

But I'm going to buck the conventional wisdom here and try to distinguish Verlaine's tortured singing from Patti Smith's. She was primarily a poet, and gathered a band around her over time, and the words (some of them spontaneously improvised) were generally the primary focus of her craft. While I don't think Verlaine intended his songs to be taken as lightly as, say, the Dead's "Cosmic Charlie," I do believe he considered himself primarily a guitarist. (He did eventually make one all-instrumental solo CD.) Not to say that his songs weren't interesting and quite often even moving, in their enigmatic way, but I could easily be convinced that he felt his singing was something he had to get out of the way so he could get to the solos-- like a jazz musician playing standards, with the understanding that the improvising was going to become anything but standard. Anyway, he wasn't Patti Smith

Nick Einhorn <> (13.03.2001)

The Quicksilver connection is a good one, because I swear that the main guitar lick on "Marquee Moon" is taken out of Quicksilver's "Too Long" (on the debut album). Maybe that's just me, but anyway, Marquee Moon is a great album, even for people who don't like punk or its peripheries.

Blaine Connor <> (19.06.2001)

I think Marquee Moon is fantastic, but I have to say I don’t see any connection with Patti Smith, other than the fact that she, Tom Verlaine, and Richard Hell evidently wrote poetry together and played in the same clubs. Smith’s sound seems like straight-ahead rock and roll, with a bit of darkness and piano on the earlier stuff and the brighter Todd Rundgren flourishes on “Wave,” while Television was more intricate.

(Incidentally, I don’t know how you can rest without reviewing the thrilling, vibrant, beautiful, masterpiece Blank Generation by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, which has to be one of the top albums of all time. It gives me the same burst of energy that “The Great Curve” and “Crosseyed and Painless” do—grabbing control of my mind and blood in the same way EVERY TIME I HEAR IT! But I digress!)

As for The Blow Up, the liner notes with the CD mention that “Little Johnny Jewel” was a single recorded in 1975. From the crowd reaction, it sounds like a fan favorite and a staple of their live act.

As for Adventure, on first listen it gave me the same confused, lost feeling of despair that I got when I bought the second album by the Teardrop Explodes, as if body snatchers had taken over the band and everyone had found out about something embarrassing I had done. Nice playing, but where was the punch, the urgency, the energy? (Cf. your feelings about Communique). But I dusted off my LP and gave it another listen.

“Glory” has a “comfy” riff, but it seems rather by-the-numbers. “Days” sounds like “Glory,” with the disadvantage of suggesting the superior song of the same name by The Kinks (and covered to great effect by Elvis Costello on “Until the End of the World”). “Careful” (also featured on The Blow Up – maybe as “I Don’t Care” (so actually there are three songs from Adventure on it) is better, bouncier—but still would have been filler on Marquee Moon.

“Foxhole” is a nice rocker, and the rougher sound of the guitars distinguish it from the rest of the album’s “bright summer morning after the party” (=weak) production. It’s a toss-up whether this version is better than the live version on The Blow Up. As for “Ain’t That Nothin’,” on the other hand, the lack of punch on the studio LP really detracts from what is otherwise a fine little song—I think I prefer the live version for its energy.

I forgot that “Carried Away” has so many nice elements – a slower tempo, a melancholy little keyboard riff, an emotional bridge –kind of like a sad version of “Guiding Light.” Likewise, “The Fire” creates a nice atmosphere, suitable for Tom’s emotional soloing.

“The Dream’s Dream” has perhaps the most inventive and interesting riff, a great start and a great verse, but the very well-played instrumental break drags the song into the realm of formula (albeit the melodic Television twin-guitar formula). The fade out is kind of interesting, but a bit long.

Jade Williams <> (25.01.2002)

Let me preface this comment by saying that Marquee Moon is one of my all-time favorites, maybe even in my personal top ten. Having made that clear, am I the only soul who listens to Tom Verlaine's noodling ('cause, really, that's what it is) and thinks, "Allmann Brothers?"

Jon Gray <> (19.10.2002)

I wish you wouldn't let Verlaine overshadow Lloyd so much in your review. In truth, I think Lloyd's solos are far more exciting and turbulent and original. Also many of the "basic rhythm" parts you describe are played by Verlaine, not Lloyd. Also saying Patti Smith is comparable to if not a carbon copy of Television is pretty ridiculous (in my opinion). It also seems odd for you to laud bands like Badfinger who are utterly bereft of originality in terms of their whole style and blast Television for their temerity to fuse several existing styles to create a new sound. The Beatles, of course, did this exact thing when they "created" modern rock. Do you have a double standard for punkish music, or are you just prejudiced to give breaks to by-the-numbers Beatles' pop? We all have little musical prejudices, and I suppose this review makes mine rather clear. I have always loved this album.


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