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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A document from the real NYC, not the Disney version
The first thing I ever read about the New York rock scene in the mid-70s was an article in Rolling Stone about a festival of unsigned bands at some place called CBGB. I hated what was on the radio and was looking for something, SOMETHING, I could get behind. I had never heard or heard of The New York Dolls or the Velvet Underground. The movie "Serpico" had made me want...
Published on August 10, 2011 by Outside Looking In

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Conflicted view of the book
I have started this review two or three times, trying to decide what I really want to say about it. On the one hand, there is so little available about Television, that I welcome and embrace pretty much anything that helps bring attention to a band that I profoundly love and respect. By the same token, I have some serious issues with the book that I am hesitant to go too...
Published on July 4, 2012 by J. Hundley


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A document from the real NYC, not the Disney version, August 10, 2011
This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
The first thing I ever read about the New York rock scene in the mid-70s was an article in Rolling Stone about a festival of unsigned bands at some place called CBGB. I hated what was on the radio and was looking for something, SOMETHING, I could get behind. I had never heard or heard of The New York Dolls or the Velvet Underground. The movie "Serpico" had made me want to move to New York City in the worst way. It just looked so cool to my 17-year-old eyes, especially compared to the shopping malls that surrounded me on Riverdale Road in West Springfield, Mass., where I had just seen the film.

I waited and waited until these bands I had read about came out with records. The first one I bought was the first one by Blondie on Private Stock Records. I liked "Rip Her to Shreds" and the band's somehow retro viewpoint (although I could not have verbalized this at the time). The second one I found was the "Live at CBGBs" on Atlantic. The only cuts that I truly took to on that disc were "Let Me Dream If I Want To" by Mink DeVille and "I Need a Million" by The Laughing Dogs. I listened to the few crowd noises and stage banter within the grooves and dreamed of what it must be like in this bar with these people, especially compared to the dives in shopping malls that I hung out in with friends where "Dream Weaver" would play from the juke box (of 45 rpm records).

When I finally found "Marquee Moon" by Television that was it. It gave me a feeling of being in a city, even though I had never even lived in what could be called an urban environment before. It, more than anything else, made me finally move to NYC in the summer of 1978 when I was 22. I had no money, worked in a record store in Manhattan (Sam Goody at 43rd and 3rd - we were near the UN and I remember selling a copy of "Marquee Moon" to a Russian that wanted "something new that is good.") I lived in what was then a dangerous part of Brooklyn but had never felt better in my life. I had zero dollars, but managed to see Television in June and July of 1978 at the Bottom Line, taking the GG and the A train to West 4th. I still have the ticket stubs (a whopping $5 to get in). I am not going to lie and say I remember much about the shows. I was right under the stage during the July show and retrieved part of a string Lloyd broke from the stage floor after the show was over. I remember being surprised that Television would play a Dylan song ("Knocking of Heaven's Door") and a Stones song ("Satisfaction") as I thought they were beyond covering a song by anybody else. It was loud. I since I found a bootleg of the last show and I know it does not sound like it did being there.

What I take away from Bryan Waterman's book is how I had forgotten how overly self conscious these bands were. I never saw any of the other New York bands except the Ramones in Connecticut in 1977 and 1978 and Patti Smith in Central Park in the summer of '78. I just did not have the money to go to these clubs and by then nobody I wanted to see was playing at CBGB. (I did run into Smith at Washington Square where she got into an altercation with John Peel. "CBGB, CBGB, that's all I ever hear out of you!" he said at one point, a point Waterman makes himself in the book. I spoke to her briefly, gushingly. I was not smart enough to realize how self-mythologizing many of these bands were and how adoringly they were written about in the local music press who now seem like cheerleaders. (I usually just read the Voice. I bought a few issues of Punk, which did not appeal to me, and the New York Rocker only a few times) and I never had even heard of these French poets I kept running into when I read about this music. I did buy a copy of Smith's book of poems, "Babel," which, frankly, I didn't get. I walked around the Village with it. A friend in Brooklyn said she got into it while stoned.

Waterman's 33 1/3 entry on "Marquee Moon" is heavy on setting the scene from where this great record came from. I know quite a bit about the history of CBGBs (but never got into there until the mid-`80s and then later in 2001 when I saw David Byrne get into a cab right in front of the club), but he makes the story new again. Only later did I come to understand the importance of the New York Dolls, and Waterman gives them their due. But what I liked about Television was their distinctly non-glam look. Richard Lloyd looks like he could have been one of the cops in "Serpico" with his plaid shirt on the cover of "Marquee Moon." They looked like normal guys - but in New York City! And that was an important part. And I completely understand Verlaine's opinion, that Waterman relates, in that the band's association with the New York scene kept them from any kind of mainstream success. I remember what the people I went to school with were like (UConn) - Fleetwood Mac, "Hotel California" by the Eagles and Steely Dan's "Aja" was all they wanted or needed. They could not relate to anything that was going on in `the city' in the first place and then when you throw in the cartoonish and deviant image a number of these bands projected, forget about it. This was the cuddly `70s, the mellow decade, remember? I, frankly, have a hard time believing that Verlaine could ever think that Television could have broken through to the mainstream. Just look at the back cover of the first Boston album or the Little River Band or the Doobie Brothers. Are you kidding me?

I would have liked to know more about the recording of "Marquee Moon." Like why does Fred Smith's bass sound so bad? (To me, Smith's bass playing is what makes the album. I know how greatly Lloyd and Verlaine are playing and I, personally thought Ficca's drumming fit this music perfectly. But it is Fred Smith's bass, especially in "Guiding Light," that floors me. It is just so perfect, beautiful. And, Bryan, it ain't `funky.' James Jamerson was funky. Charles Sherrell was funky. Smith's playing here is just a thing of beauty, a wonderful architecture inside a slow guitar song that is a thing of beauty itself.) Another great bass line of his, to my ears, is on "Without a Word" from Verlaine's "Dreamtime" a few years later.

I cannot divorce "Marquee Moon" from other things that were going on in the city at that time - like the Yankees radio broadcasts with Phil Rizutto and Reggie Bars, and how scary the city was at that time, catching a bus at Port Authority at night back then - and it got a lot scarier after the presidential election of 1980, believe me). Waterman is entirely spot on when he calls "Marquee Moon" the quintessential album of the New York night," but I always pictured the Broadway that `flapped like little pages' in "Venus" to be the one of Times Square, not downtown. I could have done without the song-by-song analysis, but that is what a guy who teaches American literature and culture at NYU does, isn't it? I have never cared what Verlaine's lyrics meant, just as I have listened to the Pixies "Bossanova" for over 20 years now and never gave the words a second thought. They are crucial, but to me the meaning just doesn't matter. There is a photo of Television in the Rhino re-release of "Marquee Moon," the one in the centerfold of the booklet, that, to me, captures what the light of the New York night looked like around Houston St. at 2 a.m. This is what I think Waterman nails.

I am glad I lived in the NYC of the late `70s and early `80s, and, believe it or not, hearing Television do their sound check with the beginning of "The Dream's Dream" while I was walking outside the Bottom Line hours before the show I saw in July of '78, is one of the highlights of my life.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's too too too, to put a finger on, August 7, 2011
By 
truelibra (Brooklyn, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
Much, much more than a mere review of Marquee Moon, Waterman's book is the most thorough biography of Television available, and it is a delicious read. Meticulously researched and passionately narrated, the story of the band's development is traced from their earliest stages as scrappy NY poets, to their Marquee Moon apex, down to their dissolution. Since the album is such a singular, mystical and thrilling work of art, a book such as this is long overdue. Waterman takes us through the development of the CBGBs scene, the state of 1970s NY rock, and the mind of Tom Verlaine (as best as possible), balancing the voices of musicians, critics, and his own analysis.

Since I first heard the album in 1991, I've been perplexed how such a sound was born out of the same scene that gave us The Ramones. TV's motives remain obscure, but I feel much more informed about their influences (socially and artistically), how they were perceived in the scene, how they were received by the public, and why an album as glorious as Marquee Moon has languished barely above cult status. Such a close investigation into "just the facts" does nothing to tarnish the gleam of the Television sound. Just the opposite - I now have a deeper appreciation for the band and a renewed endearment to the album.

One small complaint - the book's copy editors do need to review the text, as I found a number of grammatical errors, and one factual: The Cars were a Boston band, not Canadian.
OK, done complaining - go buy this book!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Conflicted view of the book, July 4, 2012
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This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
I have started this review two or three times, trying to decide what I really want to say about it. On the one hand, there is so little available about Television, that I welcome and embrace pretty much anything that helps bring attention to a band that I profoundly love and respect. By the same token, I have some serious issues with the book that I am hesitant to go too far in praising it simply because it exists.

I picked up Marquee Moon a couple of days after it was released, as soon as it made it the a local Indianapolis record shop. I had never heard the band, but had followed them at distance through NYC-centric publications like Rock Scene magazine. The record had a significant influence on 16-year-old me, just beginning to play in bands and write songs. Listening to our Swirls Away album again after so many years made me realize how significantly Television influenced and informed the stuff I was playing and writing. But way beyond that, the album and the band became touchstones for me, life in general department. I mourned when the band broken up and followed the careers of the justly-celebrated Verlaine and the criminally-overlooked Richard Lloyd down to this day. I would be hard pressed to name my favorite album of all time, but Marquee Moon in certainly in the top 2 or 3. Enough background.

Okay then, the book. Waterman writes well and the book is very readable, coherent and enjoyable as a read. However, he spends 2/3 of the book rehashing in great detail information and history that most fans of the band are going to be familiar with. He balances his sources (virtually all secondary ) to the extent of presenting different sides of the story to the point of muddying rather than clarifying contested versions of that history. Readers of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk or From the Velvets to the Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk Rock, or any number of other books dealing with 0's NYC music scene will have gone through all of this before. Nothing really much new is presented other than Waterman's desire to link the scene, including television to Pop Art, Warhol and various strains of French poetry. Not that these are specious arguments, but at the end, they really don't illuminate all that much.

I also confess to an annoyance at the overt fixation on the Tom Verlaine - Richard Hell relationship and the overall infatuation with Verlaine at the expense of the other members of the band. Lloyd, who receives at least a little text here, is presented mostly as a sort of junky/gigolo/sex symbol, his considerable gifts as a guitarist and counterpoint to Verlaine's own great talents given extremely short-shrift. Fred Smith appears as little more than a story of how he was poached from Blondie. Billy Ficca gets less than that. The overriding view of the band as a backdrop for Verlaine's brilliance sells this band very, very short.

Once he finally gets around to talking about the album, ostensibly the reason for the book, very little attention is given to the mechanics of how the album was written, rehearsed and recorded. We find out that the band spent several weeks rehearsing and shaping the songs prior to going into the studio, but no information or insight into how those rehearsals shaped the way they emerge on the record as opposed to how they had previously been performed on stage. Once in the studio, well, apparently the record got recorded, but that's about it.

And once the record is talked about, you would almost think that it is a spoken word album. The lyrics are analyzed, pulled apart, scrutinized at length - first this way, then that. What ultimately comes out is: well, maybe he meant this, maybe he meant that, maybe he meant something else. It gets a little annoying. Of course, Guiding Light, in which the lyrics were credited to Verlaine and Lloyd, rather than Tom alone, gets glossed over quickly. Apparently Richard's input dilutes the poet's vision or some such. Now, I like and enjoy Verlaine's lyrics - elliptical, full of puns and word-play, fleeting images and plaintive longing. They are good, evocative lyrics. But to analyze Marquee Moon by focusing more or less exclusively by the song lyrics is, to me, to kinda seriously misguided. Lit Crit 401 - Senior Seminar is not the approach I, personally, would take to this record.

Of course, life is full of books that aren't written the way I might write them, and the world is probably all the better for it. However, this goes beyond it "not being what I hoped it would be." I simply don't feel that the book really tells me much about the album, or presents much, be it fact or insight, that opens it up for me in ways that help me see it anew.

I am glad this book exists. I am glad I read it. But, to quote, as Waterman does: What I want / I want now. And this isn't quite it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Review of the Album (Start on page 156)., June 28, 2011
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This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
The author does an excellent job of reviewing the album. However this review of Marquee Moon doesn't start until page 156. Until then, we get the history of CBGB's, and every (AND I MEAN EVERY) review of a TV performance from music critics (ad nauseam). The book could be reduced by 50 pages by simply eliminating the word Warholian.
I've read several books in this collection and this is my observation about all of them....The authors of all these books seem to overly analyze every lyric to every song. I agree that Verlaine's lyrics are "deeper" than your average rock lyrics. But not every line to a song has a hidden biblical or poetic reference. I bet some of those lyrics were put in the song simply because they rhymed. Sometimes when I feel the authors of these books are over-analyzing every line to a song, I tend to think of the simplest but most meaningful rock lyric ever written: "It's only rock n' roll".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars authenticity vs. artifice, writ large for Tom, Dick, & Co., February 3, 2013
By 
randalman (Cleveland, OH) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
This volume is my favorite of the 33 1/3 Series. (Stephen Catanzarite's U2: Achtung Baby is a close second.) Waterman strikes the admirable balance of the rigor of an academic and the enthusiasm of a fan, and he does an excellent job of teasing out the complexities of what it meant to be an artist in the Richard Hell or Tom Verlaine variety (and the associated costs).

Most importantly, though, this book did what it's supposed to do: it sent me back to my CD collection, and *Marquee Moon* ended up in heavy rotation for the next two months.

With reference to another review here @ amazon: In terms of whether Mr. W. had the responsibility of finding Tom Verlaine before he wrote the book is open to question. When there's a wealth of primary sources, especially solid interviews with the protagonists from back in the day, those materials are -- as a rule -- considerably more reliable than those same characters today. If the author of the review has had good luck in this regard, he should thank his good karma (and keep fostering it).
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5.0 out of 5 stars 33 1/3 "Marquee Moon", January 11, 2013
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Donald Mallen "free-mind" (Millersburg, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
Very good read, exactly what I hoped for. Compliments "Sonic Transmission" (another book on Television ) and "Please Kill Me" (about the New York Music scene from Warhol/Velvet Underground thru the punk scene of the '70s). I missed that scene (raising family) but discovered the music later, becoming a fan of the Ramones, Dead Boys, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, the Tuff Darts, and especially Television. Television's music defies categorization; the songs, though familiar, would change just slightly as Television went the years and periods of activity, the fluidity adding to their appeal. The music is refreshing and enjoyable; this book highlights their most classic of studio albums, in just the way any Television junkie would want.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A little over the top but generally good, January 25, 2013
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Since Marquee Moon only has eight tracks, the author spends a significant amount of time discussing the history of the band. In particular, the author discusses the personalities and personal histories of Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, the original nucleus of the group. I found the entire story fascinating, but you may not feel the same way.

The biggest issue I had with the book was the artsy over-analysis of each song. Again, the low song count was probably the driving factor in the author's decision to pen such lengthy interpretations. I personally found a lot of the analysis unnecessary and unentertaining.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars in-depth look at a brilliant record, August 31, 2012
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This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
marquee moon is one of the greatest guitar records ever produced and a unique document of a tumultuous and highly creative time and place: new york city in the mid 1970s. this book gives a fascinating glimpse into the emerging music scene that began to seep out of the bowery, primarily from hilly kristal's new club, which was named for the eclectic music he envisioned presenting: "country, bluegrass, blues, & other music for uplifting gormandizers," shortened on the awning to CBGB & OMFUG and finally simply known as CBGBs. as its de facto house band, television honed its unique sound there, eventually drawing enough critical attention to land a record deal. along the way, a lifelong friendship would end in tatters and a new kind of music would be created - one that owed as much to the grateful dead as it did to the velvet underground or the ramones.

this book is a quick and satisfying read. if you're at all interested in this seminal album, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, January 3, 2015
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This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
Great!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just ask Tom Verlaine..., January 11, 2013
This review is from: Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) (Paperback)
I love the record and the group.

Quoth bandleader Verlaine, from a 2011 interview:

"Every book that has been written about Television is full of nonsense. [...] There's a book that just came out in New York ten days ago, called 'Marquee Moon.' The author called me up, he said, 'I want to buy you lunch, this book's coming out.' And I said, 'Well, thanks for talking to me about it!' And he goes, 'Oh it's finished, it's coming out.' So, he buys me lunch and he gives me a stack of books. And I go home and start reading it, and I immediately throw them all in the garbage, cos it's just so full of bull----. That's why we need to write our own book."

See for yourself 40 secs. into the YouTube vid "Tom Verlaine /Television Interview 2011 Part 3."

I can understand the thirst for literature, but reader beware. Needless to say, it is journalistically irresponsible of the writer not to have interviewed or consulted with Verlaine at all.
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Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3)
Television's Marquee Moon (33 1/3) by Bryan Waterman (Paperback - June 9, 2011)
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