Television

Television

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After the breakthrough success of Nirvana's Nevermind in 1991, it seemed (at least for a while) that many of the tributaries of the American punk movement might finally have a chance to break through to a larger audience, and a number of seminal bands from the salad days of punk and new wave made reunion albums, imagining they might have a better chance to be heard than they did in the 1970s or '80s. Television were an especially strong example of a band whose influence and reputation far outstripped their commercial impact, so it's not that surprising that the group decided to reunite in 1992 and see if the mass audience might finally be prepared for them. However, Television's intricate guitar attack and elliptical melodies would have been a hard sell under ideal circumstances, and it didn't help much that the group's comeback disc, simply called Television, sounded even less approachable than the music of their masterpiece, Marquee Moon. With its skeletal melodies, starkly dynamic arrangements, and cryptically witty lyrics, Television sounds like one of Tom Verlaine's post-1982 solo albums more than anything else, but with one important difference -- here, Verlaine is working with a second guitarist who is actually worth his while, and while on this set everyone seems to follow Verlaine's lead, with Richard Lloyd on hand to trade licks with Tom, and Fred Smith and Billy Ficca holding down the rhythm section with unobtrusive strength, it's easily the strongest record Verlaine made since Dreamtime in 1981. Anyone wanting to know why Television were one of the most important bands of their time needs to start with Marquee Moon, but if you want further proof that Verlaine and Lloyd truly bring out the best in each other's guitar work, this album will certainly help.

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