ROCK TELEVISION Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Mon 17 Jun
Never mind the Jubilee, here’s the dog’s bollocks. Or so the rock hack cognoscenti claimed back in May 1977, Iauding a New York band like they were the greatest thing since sliced bagels.
‘The English music press saw it as a religious event,’ recalls Gary Valentine of Television’s first UK tour. His was in the support band, a bunch of no-hopers called Blondie. ‘Verlaine was a god, come to save rock’n’roll . . . compared to that our little garage band seemed like a joke.’
NME’s Nick Kent led the pack, suggesting Television’s debut LP Marquee Moon was ‘little short of revolutionary’ and ‘a work of real genius’, less a bunch of songs cut to plastic than a performance of hymns for aesthetes. ‘To call them punk rock is rather like describing Dostoevsky as a short story,’ he hyperbolized.lrritatingly, he was right.
Not that it helped. Five star reviews don’t pay the bills and while others are damned with faint praise, Tom Verlaine’s Television were buried by superlatives. The record buying public were underwhelmed and in 1978, after just two albums, the band split.
But every cloud has a silver dollar lining and Verlaine’s
Chile is chilly.
Stuart goes halfway around the world with Mogwai to find Brazil’s nuts and
O W. ‘09."
Some things get better with age . . .
vision was not lost. It switched Bono on to a music of poetry and possibility. The Edge certainly took a note or two. Bowie covered a track. the Bunnymen and the Banshees followed. Former girlfriend Patti Smith conscripted him for her comeback tour. Sonic Youth borrowed ideas and sounds and The Strokes stole. Everything. Now if ever there was a band not fit to smell the glove of Tom Verlaine . . .
OK, you say, they were influential but were, indeed, are Television a band just for musos and snobs and namedroppers? Certainly in the 705 New York scene they were the antithesis of the Ramones. Where da bruddas had fun making an art out of stupidity, Television were intellectual, lyrical, sullen. Three chords good, four chords bad, was the punk dogma, and Verlaine and co were anything but musically inept. Like the Doors or Love before them, they knew they were good but were natural with it. Confidence is often perceived as arrogance of course.
Point is Nick Kent was right to cite them as ‘one band in a million’ and one should not allow outmoded punk-rock- reverse-snobbery (‘They can play? Boo!’) to fuzz the picture. Television are rock ‘n’ roll royalty.
There is still a slight feeling of darkness in Chile in the aftermath of the (Thatcher endorsed) Pinochet regime and I think that adds to people’s appreciation of bands visiting there. We played to 1000 people in a beautiful theatre in an amazing atmosphere that was far from befitting of five scabby Weegies making more noise than
Touring South America was an experience I’ll never forget. Our shows in Brazil in Sao Paolo, Belo Horizonte and Rio De Janeiro were random affairs with people’s reaction varying from rabid enthusiasm to vague confusion. Brazil is as beautiful as it is shady and excels in non-punctuality and questionable amplification. That said we met some great folks and were amazed by people’s interest in Scottish music. One girl made me promise to tell Teenage Fanclub to visit Sao Paolo.
The only downside was our visit to Rio De Janeiro from a tourist point of view. We were in constant fear of the Dengi virus and never managed to visit the huge stone Jesus that looks
44 THE LIST i; 9’. .i m Z/i’k‘
over the city (which was one of the main reasons we were going). Even without seeing the Jesus, Brazil was an amazing unforgettable country that we never thought we'd visit and one that we're all glad we did.
After the technical pitfalls (nothing really worked) of our Brazilian shows we were looking forward to Santiago in Chile with slight trepidation. No one we knew had played there and l for one had no idea were it actually was (I shamefully admit). Even though we were so far south that the weather resembled Portobello more than Copacabana all our expectations were surpassed by the show which was one of the most memorable we've played in a long time.
sense. I hope we return soon. And urge any band that could so to do so.
Lest we forget that no one should be beyond criticism, myself included, but someone at tripTych saw fit to have a tantrum over my raising questions about corporate sponsorship. As far as a response and talk of paranoid promoters, personal slurs and corporate cock, maybe go check out the letters page?
In my next column asides from celebrating England (hopeful) early exit from the World Cup I'll tell have tales of our ten—day US jaunt and all the glamour of the van -- econolodge existence.
PS. corporate rock sucks.
All the whinges, binges and fringes in the wonderful world of music
DJ SHADOW AND ELVIS Costello are among the big names confirmed to appear at this year’s fringe festival in Edinburgh. Running from 4-26 August, T on the Fringe has Faithless, Sum 41 and Badly Drawn Boy scheduled to appear; the Divine Comedy and the Indigo Girls are among those scheduled to play the Queen’s Hall while a new event called Roots at the Reid has the Poozies and Bert Jansch among the acts at the Reid Hall. For more on the Fringe launch see news page 4.
Faithless for the Fringe
FOLLOWING ON FROM THE Fringe announcements IS the good news that Planet Pop WI“ be returning this year. The festival. running in Edinburgh for four weeks throughOut August has played host to the likes of the Fall and Roots Manuva Will confirm their first acts appearing in the coming weeks.
FOR THOSE INTENDING ON taking their lil ‘uns to T in the Park, be warned that under fives are now not permitted entry for what the festival describe as ‘health, welfare and safety reasons’. Another change is that instead of paying £5 those aged between five and twelve will now have to pay half price and under sixteens will have to be accompanied by someone over 21. See www.tir'.thepark.com for more info.
ISOBEL CAMPBELL HAS LEFT Belle anu Sebastian, The singer and cellist has been Wlih the band since their inception and left half way through the band's US tour, lhe split was said to be amicable and there are no plans for a "(Bl)l£t(j(}lll(}lti. Campbell has a solo album due for release later in the \‘(EiiL