(with Richard Hell) CBGB 17th January 1975
What I Heard
Hard On Love (fast version)
Breakin' In My Heart
"...a little cartoon show... called UFO"
It's hard to listen to this recording without wishing you'd been there. Not because it's wonderful - it isn't (the sound quality is variable, the playing isn't always spot-on and the bass playing is... rudimentary) - but because back in CBGB in 1975 something was happening and it wasn't just about music. With the Marquee Moon album release still a couple of years away you have to try to imagine the impact of Television at the time (maybe you were there. I wasn't, unfortunately).
What would you make of this band? Two guitarists who can obviously play but who don't seem quite certain where they're going or what comes next; one pulling things into 'rock band' territory, the other pushing it... somewhere else. A drummer who doesn't play like a rock drummer, doesn't think like a rock drummer. A bass player who's reason for being there probably isn't bass-playing. Deceptively simple songs that at once seem recognisable and familiar but defy expected/anticipated development.
They don't look like a rock band. They've got short hair. One of the singers plays fractured, inspired guitar lines and sings with a complete absence of macho-rock affectation. The other singer wears shades and has attitude, striking (probably ironic) shapes with his bass. Maybe he wants to be a rock star and maybe he's too aware of how ridiculous the whole idea is and he can't help pointing that out.
Over half the songs here would never make it to an album or single release (although the structure and melody of What I Heard would eventually become Postcard from Waterloo on Verlaine's Words From The Front album) and the ones that did would go through some changes before their released versions.
A recording like this is probably as close as you're going to get to experiencing early Television. It doesn't sound wonderful, it doesn't sound particularly together. What it sounds like is a group of people with nerve and ideas and energy who maybe don't really give a shit what you think. It's the beginning of something.