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The Blow-Up

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Album Review

Double live albums frequently come off as redundant and indulgent, but in the case of Television, The Blow-Up comes awfully close to being an essential document, simply because the band's studio albums didn't always capture the rawness and spontaneity that fueled their on-stage improvisations. Both of those qualities are present on The Blow-Up in abundance; the sound quality is not exactly pristine, but the performances, recorded in 1978 on what proved to be the band's final tour, are exciting and frequently breathtaking, capturing a side of the band that will enlighten anyone wondering how Television's intricate, layered sound was ever tagged "punk." Six songs from Marquee Moon and two from Adventure appear, plus covers of "Satisfaction," "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," and the 13th Floor Elevators' "Fire Engine" (here renamed as the album's title track). It's interesting to hear the shorter songs outside of a studio setting, but the album's real treasures are the second half's nearly 15-minute versions of "Little Johnny Jewel" and "Marquee Moon," which are loaded with the improvisational fireworks that helped build Television's reputation. Anyone seeking a more complete, rounded picture of the band after digesting Marquee Moon should eventually find his way here.


Formed: 1973 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '00s

Television were one of the most creative bands to emerge from New York's punk scene of the mid-'70s, creating an influential new guitar vocabulary. While guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd liked to jam, they didn't follow the accepted rock structures for improvisation -- they removed the blues while retaining the raw energy of garage rock, adding complex, lyrical solo lines that recalled both jazz and rock. With its angular rhythms and fluid leads, Television's music always went in unconventional...
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