The Blow Up (Fire Engine)
Danceteria Records (France) No. DANLP030, 1992
See No Evil
I Don’t Care
Venus De Milo
Ain’t that Nothin’
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Little Johnny Jewel
Also available on cassette: ROIR A114, 1982
Tom Verlaine: Guitar, vocals
Richard Lloyd: Guitar, backing vocals
Fred Smith: Bass, backing vocals
Billy Ficca: Drums
"Little Johnny Jewel, He's real cool"
Recorded live in 1978, this shows what a fantastic live band Television were - in fact, what a great band they were. It also shows how remarkably close to the live sound and feel the music captured on "Marquee Moon" is. And, while it's easy to hear this and listen only to Verlaine, it also reminds you how much Richard Lloyd brought to Television. Remember also that even the most free-falling soloists need something to land on and Ficca and Smith were such a strong, steady rhythm anchor. What a great drummer Ficca is - listen to the way he's behind, beneath and around everything that goes on in "Little Johnny Jewel".
If for no other reason, then you should own this for the fifteen minutes or so of "Little Johnny Jewel". If this one track were the only existing recording of Tom Verlaine, then it would be enough in itself to justify all claims about his guitar playing. Ranging from near-silence to a devastating roar, it's intense, dangerous and wonderful. It's a form of music all of its own. There was no-one else around who explored the possibilities of the electric guitar like this, and there still isn't.
It's also worth it to hear Television tackle the Stones' "Satisfaction" and not only wrestle it to the ground but effectively leave it bleeding all over the floor with a chaotic, scary double guitar attack which blurs into a distorted montage before stopping dead.
There's a fabulous, tense version of "Marquee Moon" that's better than the live one on "Miller's Tale". The only time that the pace lets up is for a re-de-construction of Dylan's "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door" - and even this Verlaine manages to make his own with some lovely, dreamy guitar playing.
Most bands when they play live tend to recreate as closely as possible the studio recordings, with longer guitar solos. With this band, it's just that the restrictions of the studio - and its conventions - no longer apply and they seem to revel in the freedom to wander, explore and react to the moment.
You should own this because it's what live rock music should sound and feel like. It's as simple as that.