TELEVISION : Double Exposure 1974-75
Television still seem to divide people right down the middle - even 30-odd years on it's a not-so-simple case of love or hate for most people. Inevitably (because I'm bothering to write this afterall) I love 'em - though I can see why some folk are determined to write them off as a "punk Dire Straits". Tom Verlaine & Mark Knopler were in similar orbits around Dylan's ouevre at this (seminal) point in time I think, & it does make you wonder which direction the band might've taken if Television's second LP, Adventure, hasn't flopped so spectacularly (Making Movies, perhaps?). Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself here...
Television, of course, are rightly lauded for their unassailable/inescapable Marquee Moon 1977 debut, an album that I'm still regularly listening to despite owning it since the late 80s (I won my copy off of a mate in some kind of bet & have never looked back). What's interesting is discovering how old some of the songs on that album already were, & how long Verlaine & co. had been playing them. The Poor Circulation boot has a couple of drummer-less rehearsal excerpts from terminal '73 (including an embryonic version of "Venus" with Richard Hell on bass, etc) & a year later at least half of that legendary debut was already well established in their live set. Double Exposure is a bootleg of genuine reknown & a real gem - the first five songs are the oft-referenced Fairfield demo, recorded by Eno in late 1974 with the (failed!) intention of getting the band a recording deal. Richard Hell was apparently still in the band, though Verlaine's repeated requests for him to stop "jumping around" (!) & otherwise diverting attention from the songs have reduced him to a spectral presence at best (he's much more evident on Poor Circulation) - he buggered off to form The Heartbreakers with various ex-New York Dolls immediately afterwards. The remaining tracks are from the mid-1975 session they recorded for Terry Ork's label, from which the "Little Johnny Jewel" 7" was excerpted, & incude the otherwise unavailable "Hard On Love" which joins the long list of class "A" songs the band dropped once they'd signed to Elektra. What's immediately noticable is how tight a reign Verlaine was already imposing on the band's sound - no more sidesteps into improvised semi-chaos ala "Fuck Rock'n'Roll" or "Horizontal Ascensions" from here on - & how the route towards the torpid Adventure was, perhaps, already unavoidable.
N.B. A slap on the back to Burning Aquarium for this one.