Live at the NYC Academy 12.4.92 - Television (self released)
That one of New York City's most visionary and inspired guitar bands has to hawk its own live CD at their sporadic live shows is a curious fact-of-life, and almost as puzzling as why they're not a bona fide mainstream success.
I know Tom Verlaine's strangulated vocals are an acquired taste and there's too many flights of twangy fancy in those spiraling lead guitar lines to make sense to straight-jacketed A and R executives and radio programmers alike, but c'mon guys - The Strokes drop the Television name like confetti in almost every interview. Surely they have some cred? (Choke).
This is a December '92 show (no, not as apparent as you might think from a glance at the title – most countries around the world actually fly in the face of the American date format of month/day/year) and a good ‘un it is, too. Apart from the hideously expensive "Live at the Waldorf" on Rhino (which dates from an oft-booted '78 radio show), this is the only example of a properly recorded TV show.
It has to be said that there are some fantastic audience tapes floating around on a certain Television trading mailing list. On "Academy", however, the protracted tuning that pervades most of the re-formed band's current shows has been edited out.
The gig's on the back of the band's 1992 comeback album - the imaginatively titled "Television" – so the set list is dominated by nine of the 10 songs that appeared thereon. Of them, there's some staggering guitar interplay on "Beauty Trip" and "Call Mr Lee" remains a rare delight among a collection of musical gems. Verlaine and Richard Lloyd get right down and trade lines on the outro of "The Rocket". That whole '92 album is vastly underrated, in fact, and you could do worse than scour eBay or www.gemm.com for a copy.
Fear not. Of the oldies, the tour de force that is "Marquee Moon" gets a guernsey, as well as "Venus de Milo" and the lesser "Prove It".
As alluded earlier, lots of current and past TV shows have passed the way of the I-94 Bar in recent times, but it's hard to recall any where the band as sounded so energized and at ease at the same time. They slip effortlessly from "The Rocket" into a shimmering – no, playful - "Rhyme". Verlaine holds his own on guitar (as opposed to laying back and letting Lloyd do most of the driving – which was seemingly the case a year or three ago).
OK, so this is a hard-to-find disc and I was happy to review it just to put the TV name up in lights. After all, every little bit counts and it might just help persuade a clever promoter and the band to get together and seal a deal for an Oz tour, you know? You could try your luck and scour eBay to procure a copy.