Years ago, I’d wake up on Saturday mornings and finish the beer on my night stand. Armed with a wallet and an iPod I’d ramble off into my city. I’d spend the morning counting cracks in the sidewalk while keeping time to what ever the shuffle had in store. I suppose around this time my playlists were dominated by an unhealthy mix of screaming emo bands and hardcore east coast rappers. Not a balanced diet by any means. But my travels almost always lead me to The Music Shack, the best independent record store my tiny Capital City had to offer.
As soon as you cracked the door you were washed with a sense of pretentious knowledge and attitude. Picture Rob, Barry and Dick from High Fidelity. The store was packed with aisle after aisle of new and used discs, posters, records, dvds, box sets, and tee shirts. I’d spend three hours at a time browsing every gem and piece of shit the place had to offer. The owners knew me, and the clerks got my opinion whether they asked for it or not. It was my home away from home. They fucked with me when I finally got the nerve to apply for a job. As they should have. They asked me to write an essay about Led Zeppelin, and naturally, I did it. Essay or not I was getting the job, but that was the nature of the beast.
The manager and co-owner of the store was a bearded, bald headed maniac called Steve. Unknowingly, Steve would bestow to me one of the greatest musical gifts of my life. One painfully average afternoon shift he was cranking “See No Evil” by some band called Television, and singing along with the pitch of a deaf kid at an Ozzy concert. People rummaging around for three 6 mafia tapes and white label bootlegged vinyl didn’t know what to make of this crazy, grizzled dude bellowing at the top of his lungs over a piercing stereo system turned up to ten.
This was 2003, and I was fully obsessed with the “garage rock revival” sound coming from New York. In my head, the Strokes were the only band that mattered and I was pumped for Room On Fire, their sophomore record. He insisted that I listen up. He talked of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd like rock and roll Gods, two punks who streamlined the way guitar parts were written. He drew comparisons to Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond of the Strokes, noting how their parts intertwined, blurring the lines between rhythm and lead. All of a sudden “Reptilia” made perfect sense. The more I spun Television’s Marquee Moon, the more their significance moved from the blurry and obscure to a place of innovation and groundbreaking creativity.
Television recorded Marquee Moon and Adventure before in-fighting and hardcore drug abuse split the dynamic that once made some of the most dialed in instrumental madness I’d ever heard. They reunited in the early 90’s for a self-titled record, but were never able to rekindle that initial fire. Word is there’s a re-tooled lineup and ten new songs in the works. Selfishly, I almost wish it never sees the light of day. Their contribution to angular, guitar driven rock and roll couldn’t be more clear, and could never be as perfect as it shined on Marquee Moon.