Television returned after a long absence in 1992 to release their self-titled record. After the release of ‘Marquee Moon’ in 1977, an all-time landmark record and essentially the record that spawned post-punk, Television were instantly held in high regard among the other high profile rock bands of the time. They stood out at the time for their uniquely alien take on punk rock. After their second release the very next year in ’78, Television basically disappeared from the musical spectrum. Of course, vocalist Tom Verlaine would go on to have a solo career, but it seemed that the magic of ‘Marquee Moon’ was something of a specific time and place. 15 years after this landmark release, what would Television leave listeners on their self-titled record?
Well, they start the record with “1880 or So”, which showcases their trademark minimalism that would go on to dominate a decade of underground alternative music. Aside from the trademark minimalism, this song is a soft, warm little masterpiece of a single. Skipping ahead a bit in the record for the purpose of mentioning “No Glamour for Willi”, as many of the songs between the aforementioned and this track have much the same vibe, this track gives us some excellent guitar work from Richard Lloyd. The best way to describe is is spooky. It showcases that trademark tingly, minimal guitar sound that has long made Television sound like a band that’s not quite from this planet. Even more impressive is the fact that these guys were still capable of creating an entirely unique sounding record. Alternative music ruled the roost in the early ’90s and there was a lot of borrowing of ideas between different bands. This record is not an example of this. It’s as if this record just popped out of somewhere that is totally uninhabited by whatever was coming out around it. Maybe they weren’t all that interested in what their contemporaries were up to. Moving to the last track of the record, “Mars”, we are given a picture of what a it’s like to be an outsider in a cold urban environment. This element, of course, would become a key component in many of the subsequent post-punk and underground alternative scenes that spawned from Television’s arrival.
It’s quite clear that Television still had the makings of a great, innovative band on this record. Though it may not be the all-time classic that ‘Marquee Moon’ proved to be, this is a perfectly solid record that is unique in its own way, although some of the songs don’t hold up to the highlights. It feels sonically different than ‘Marquee Moon’ and yet many of the elements that make up the record thematically are quite similar. If anything, this record is a bit less ambitious than, but how can you fault the band for that? After all, it’s not exactly an easy task to be pumping out classic records like that on the regular. The only fault of the band is that they once again disappeared after this record. They must get off on making listeners constantly be waiting for more from them. When you put out material like Television do, perhaps this is a fault that you’re granted.