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- Academy, Pemberton »
- Television »
I never thought I'd actually see them, but here they are. The whispers that friends put into my mind "What if it's not the original line-up?" - are proved groundless. For example. Arthur Lee, the singer, may have a fair claim to 'being' Love, but Love were not the ultimate proof collaborative guitar band as art form.
Richard Lloyd is a fabulous, fabulous genius, responsible for far more than a quarter of the Television sound. His melodies are unforgettable, transcending the stupid, out-of-date notions of 'rhythm' and 'lead' guitar. He rolls out Prove It so casually, looking over to Tom Verlaine impassively, as the singer raps out occasional lyrics, almost as guitar cues.
Verlaine peers at his guitar, ponders over it, his cheekbones still razor sharp, as sharp as the sonic intent. He plays the chords to songs such as Venus Di Milo and See No Evil, which are good enough in their arrow-sharp simplicity, beautified by Lloyd's luminous melodies, but then, then, he plays a solo on Marquee Moon. It is everything that is good about Verlaine and therefore everything that is unique and stunning about Television; stark, surprising, full of poise and grace, but with a knife-edge incisive creative imstinct that maybe nobody else possesses.
Television don't sound like anybody else. The rhythm section, Billy Ficca and Fred Smith, aren't the reason why, even though Smith's bassline on Venus Di Milo is an unmitigated pleasure, a lovely melody, underpinning the virutous chiming of the two guitars, so that the spine of the song spirals prettily around. Too often, bassists simply plod, allowing their six-string counterparts to dominate and at the same time, doing them a major disservice - a weak bassist simply highlights the failings of his guitarists, by putting too much pressure upon the guitars to carry the band sound and make it interesting.
Bass can only do so much though. Guitar is always the key. The real art-rock guitarists pick up their instrument and go on the offensive with it, making beautiful, unique, inimicable statements with it as they go.
Television are the paragon of art-rock bands. If anybody compares The Strokes to them in front of me, ever, I will lamp them. Listen to Lloyd's technicality, his pugnacious, categorical attacks on the guitar and the concept of melody; then Verlaine takes over, with his magical, stunningly unpredictable solos, totally unleashed by the precision and flow of Lloyd's stellar Telecaster at his back. These are the real deal, men who show their icy souls and lofty intellects through their guitars. True greatness courses through their veins. I believe again, feel invigorated, intoxicated. My favourite band?
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