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Live at CeeB GeeB's
Posted by: Parkas4Kids from: Dundalk, MD on
Sometimes it's hard to capture a band's true potential in the often-sterile environment of a recording studio. New York City's Television is a band who's managed to achieve both dynamite and dynamic studio albums as well as live shows. However, the band has limited recorded output, which makes it difficult to pinpoint specific examples unless you're talking to someone who's also seen the band perform live. Fortunately, in 1982, ROIR released this double-album, "The Blow-Up," to help showcase Television's raw potential.
A lot works in this album's favor, most notably the pure talent of guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Their guitar work is art, pure and simple, and they push the boundaries of rhythm and lead guitar well beyond the breaking point. Unfortunately, what works the most against the band is the venue itself: CBGB's. Though one of the happenin'est places to see some of the hippest bands, the acoustics of the rather small club caused the music, more often than not, to suffer. Sides 1 and 2 sound like you're listening to Television with your fingers so far in your ears that you're inches from scratching your brain. The guitar overpowers and almost drowns out the vocals, rendering Tom's singing either inaudible or indecipherable. Don't get me wrong, the songs are good--really good--but the listening experience is...unbalanced at best.
Sides 1 and 2 are the "throwaway" sides and feature the shorter songs of this particular collection. The stand-out tracks are "Prove It," "I Don't Care," and "Ain't That Nothin'." However, sides 3 and 4 are what make this album so worthwhile. The 15-plus minute renditions of "Little Johnny Jewel" and "Marquee Moon" will blow your mind. "Friction" and the band's cover of "Satisfaction" are just icing on this particular slice of the cake. And to make things even better, the sound quality issues on sides 1 and 2 aren't nearly as prevalent on sides 3 and 4. Bonus!
Whether or not you're a fan of Television, you owe it to yourself to own this album. Yes, the sound quality is lacking for the better part of this album. It does, in my opinion, hang something of a dark cloud over these songs as a whole, but Television's guitar work shines through regardless. Let Tom and Richard weave their guitars and take you back to 1978, just be sure to enjoy the ride.
However, with all that said, do yourself a favor and get either the CD or digital version of this album. I ordered my copy directly from the record label--ROIR--and it skips and jumps as if that's what records are meant to do. Roughly the first half of side 1 skips around, most of side 2 doesn't skip at all, but sides 3 and 4 are practically unlistenable because it jumps around so much. The music is high quality, there are just too many flaws in the physical package. A shame, really.
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