Factory Favorites: Television – “Marquee Moon”

Posted by cfmartinguitar

Music is what inspires us here at Martin Guitar. Here, we’ll be bringing you a selection of what’s coming out of the stereos in our factory.


In an era when the term "punk" is used to describe pop stars, sports cars, and haircuts, articulating the impact of Television's seminal 1975 album Marquee Moon can be tough. Beginning in the late 1960s and early 70s, bands in New York and London had begun to distill the raw materials of blues, rock, and pop into something unfettered and unique. Bands like the MC5 infused raw power into the mixture, the Stooges had introduced an element of danger and performance art, and the Velvet Underground had injected art-house experimentalism into what had otherwise been mainstream music dating back to the 1950s.

Formed in 1973, Television took clear inspiration from all of these bands, but as their technical and songwriting prowess grew, they also pulled apart the influence of earlier acts like the Ventures and the Rolling Stones, and created offspring so wholly removed from its parents' DNA as to be virtually unrecognizable Where their predecessors stuck to the forms, rhythms, and roles of early rock'n'roll, Television used it as a jumping off point to create music that was angular, expansive, and complex. This new sound was no more perfectly expressed than it was on Marquee Moon, their debut album.


With a title track that clocks in at over ten minutes, it is clear that the album was not intended for the radio dials of most listeners. Which is not to say that the music is unapproachable—the album is full of anxious beats and infectious melodies (see "Prove It"), expressed through the stiff guitar work and dry drum sounds that have become the hallmark of modern indie rock. The arrangements on the record, which turn the concept of "lead" versus "rhythm" guitar on its head, give the songs a listenability that keeps them perpetually new, and makes repeat listens particularly enjoyable.

Though they only went on to record three studio albums (so far), Television's impact on music cannot be overstated. The sounds they pioneered are immediately recognizable in bands ranging from Gang of Four to U2, Sonic Youth to the Strokes, and many more. More than that, however, they helped to give the punk movement a direction in which to grow; a set of rules to break by means other than sheer volume.

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Topics: Factory Favorites

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