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Television – Marquee Moon (1977)

March 28, 2015

[Album 388/1001]Marquee_moon_album_cover

Title tracks tend to go one of two ways:

1.  The title track becomes more famous than its parent album, at least I Imagine that’s What’s Going On* with titles like American Pie.

2. “That?” (in the way Michael Bluth asks, “her?” on Arrested Development).  Solid records with less significant title tracks, such as Goo and 1984.  In these cases, the album names are likely more thematic, as opposed to highlighting the individual songs.

I’m not sure if Marquee Moon has an overriding theme (from what I’ve read, the lyricist isn’t even sure of much of its meaning).  That being said, what a choice for a title track.

Not many bands would put a sprawling 10+ minute track mid-set but the title track centerpiece here is also the album’s pièce de résistance.

I can find little to no fault with the rest of the record, except perhaps that it’s one of those Born to Run-esque instances where the album tracks lie somewhat in the shadow of the album’s namesake.


When speaking with Hackskeptic about The Clash the other day, I was reminded of the notion of the spacetime continuum.

Television seems to have inspired a generation of guitar rock.  Does that make Marquee Moon one of those critical moments in the fabric of the universe?

If this album had never been made, would the trajectory of popular music have been different?

To at least put a cap on some hyperbole, I’ll concede I’ve managed to function (somewhat) for 3+ decades without being aware of this album’s existence.

But after listening, it’s evident that many of my favourite artists were much less oblivious of this album.

Without Marquee Moon, would R.E.M. have become R.E.M.?  Would Sonic Youth exist and if not, would there have been a Nirvana?

Fortunately, we’ll never have to know but I’m curious.

Imagine some time-traveler interfered with the spacetime continuum and Marquee Moon was prevented from being released in 1977.  What groups might find themselves erased from existence in the ‘Influenced by Television’ chart below?**

Influenced by Television



*I recognize the Marvin Gaye example isn’t as strong.  I’ll sacrifice strength for wordplay any day!

**I enjoy that for years, pundits have claimed Television (the medium) is a bad influence.  Television (the band) seems to be anything but.

From → 1970s

  1. Hyperbole? Not for this record. “Does that make Marquee Moon one of those critical moments in the fabric of the universe?” Yes, my friend. Yes it certainly does.

    I have this one on vinyl and it is AWESOME. Great, great record. I am glad you got to hear it!

    • That title track would sound great as a side one closer, another argument in favour of the side a/b format!

  2. I love that you use graphical charts and so on in your posts. I have to admit I am copying that a little bit in tomorrow’s post. You inspired the initial idea anyway.

    I like the album cover, but I have to add this to my “Who is a band I have never listened to before, Alex!”

    • Haha, thanks Mike!
      There’s a club called ‘mathletes’ at school that I was telling the kids about the other day, talking about how I approve of anything that combines 2 of my loves.
      So I appreciate those occasions when the loves of music & graphs can come together in blogging!
      And please borrow any ideas any time without fear of royalty lawsuits – most of my ideas, as you know, originally stem from Wayne’s World in some way, sometimes with very few degrees of separation!

      • I have heard of the “mathletes”! Ever seen Freaks and Geeks? The main character Lindsey is a former mathlete.

        I did not steal your graph idea, but you inspired me to get visual with the next post. I hope it works…I think it’ll be a hoot but we’ll see. 🙂

        You did a post that was almost entirely hand written once, didn’t you? I think that was what got the wheels turning in my head.

      • I’ve been told to watch it – with Seth Rogen & friends when they were younger? Heard good things, and having a mathlete doesn’t hurt the case.
        And yes – that was for 1984. I wrote that post when I was babysitting a friend’s sleeping 1-year old. DLR’s “I brought my pencil” always stood out to me so I thought a pencil-written post would be a fun nod to that bit of Hot For Teacher dialogue.
        I’m excited for your post tomorrow!

      • I have a Freaks and Geeks review in the “WIP” stage. (Work In Progress.) It was a smart show. That’s why it got cancelled just like Arrested Development. Seth Rogen and James Franco were in it, but Jason Segal plays a Rush obsessed drummer and a great character.

        The most brilliant casting was Biff from Back to the Future as the bullying gym teacher!

      • Thomas F. Wilson, now you’re talking!
        That sounds like it would appeal to me, we just finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (dark but very funny) so that may be up next.

        And as an accounting enthusiast, now need to define WIP ’round here 😀

      • I don’t want to spoil things but yes, Thomas F. Wilson, and he starts as a prick teacher that later becomes sympathetic. Dude I can’t say enough good stuff! 🙂

        Feel free to use ‘WIP’. We use it at work to define parts that are “rolled” but still have to go through one or more operations before its finished such as punching or painting.

      • I always thought of Devo to help remember what to do in accounting for manufacturing, when a production comes along, you must WIP it!

      • HAHAH! That’s great!

        By coincidence I was writing a review this morning that involves a Devo cover.

  3. ianbalentine permalink

    It took me ages to warm to this record, but I am now totally hooked. Their second album ain’t bad either, but no where near as great as this. They were, oddly, considered part of the punk crew (but then again so were Blondie, and Talking Heads), and a 10 minute track was more than just taboo, it was a revolutionary shot and about the most ‘punk’ thing you could do, in hindsight. Great post, thanks for shining a light on this one.

    • My thanks Ian – I remember a punk band in the late 90s talking about not liking the Backstreet Boys isn’t punk – it would actually be more ‘punk’ to like them!

  4. Such a great album this one.

  5. I love every second of this LP, even the gaps between the tracks. A perfect band, before it all went down the toilet with the next LP.

  6. Hackskeptic permalink

    I tend to agree with you Geoff (btw if you didn’t know my name is Geoff too) that a fantastic individual track on one album can tend to overshadow everything in it’s wake. Muse’s “Origin Of Symmetry” is another example (“New Born” being the outstanding track).

  7. Hackskeptic permalink

    still one of the best bands I’ve seen live for sure.

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  1. 1977 | 1001albumsin10years

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