Marquee Moon

Song Review by

While Television was among the earliest trailblazers in the 1970s new wave explosion, and the first to make a mark at New York's punk Mecca CBGB (they even built the stage that they and thousands of other bands played on), their basic style had little to do with the aggressive 4/4 drive of the Ramones and the Dead Boys; guitarist Tom Verlaine often cited Moby Grape as a crucial influence, and the psychedelic undercurrent in the band's approach was rarely clearer than on the title song from their brilliant 1977 debut album, Marquee Moon. Perhaps reminded of Moby Grape's tightly meshed three-guitar lineup, the framework of "Marquee Moon" is rooted in three interwoven rhythm parts -- a double-timed guitar riff that hits on the first and third beats in the left channel, a trilled guitar pattern in the right channel that rides through the third and fourth beats, and a two-note bass riff that surrounds the first and third. Brought together, the three fused into a single melodic pattern that was spare but hypnotic, and strong enough that guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd could veer off into extended solos without the structure falling apart. While "Marquee Moon" had a lean, muscular sound that set this band apart from, say, the Grateful Dead, there's no mistaking that Verlaine and Lloyd loved a good jam, and the tune's ten-plus-minute length on Marquee Moon gave both of them plenty of room to explore the sonic landscape. The original studio version is one of the great guitar moments in rock history (Verlaine's final solo is nothing short of sublime), and Television's live renditions of the tune (preserved today on a handful of bootlegs and the semi-authorized live document The Blow Up) are, if anything, even more impressive.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Marquee Moon 1977 Elektra 10:47
Pop Art: Underground Sounds from the Warhol Era 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 10:40
101 Punk & New Wave Anthems 2010
Various Artists
EMI 4:31