Television made self-consciously mythic rock that conjures up steely skyscrapers the way Led Zeppelin conjures up moss-covered stone castles. Despite its garage-band sound, Television never played many anthemic punk riffs. Instead, it specialized in soaring drones over which Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd played staccato radar blips on guitar. Television evidently loved the Velvet Underground's "European Son" for the same reason Kraftwerk did: the robotic, jagged overdrive of the stark rhythms. Although many punks accused the group of being hippies, today Television songs sound more like synth-pop songs that happen to be played on guitars. Whether Verlaine was impersonating a gum-chewing detective in "Prove It" or a decadent artist in "See No Evil", he always sounded like a dewy-eyed kid who'd just read his first Baudelaire poem twenty minutes ago, staring up at the city lights with a sense of wonder that was too too-too to put a finger on. And as Patti Smith pointed out, he had the most beautiful neck in rock'n'roll. Marquee Moon is the CBGB era's most grandiose guitar album, with chiming Byrdsy folk-rock building into screeches nicked from Ayler and Reed. Verlain may have adopted his strangled voice to sound jaded and urbane, but it communicates boyish delight in mockingly superficial symboliste tropes such as "the flat curving of the room" and "I want a nice little boat made out of ocean". The saga of "Little Johnny Jewel" continues in amazing songs such as "Elevation", "See No Evil", and "Venus", where Little Boy Blue falls asleep in the haystack and wakes up in the urban grime, rubbing his eyes and declaring, "Broadway looks so medieval!". "Marquee Moon" allows serpentine guitar riffs to entwine like tendrils around the desolate groove for ten of punk's most intensely emotional minutes.


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