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(TV) My comments on the reissues
Maurice has already done a great job describing these reissues.
Overall, I can't say I'm disappointed about *anything*, and I'm pleasantly
surprised by a *lot*.
For starters, I think the packaging is really nicely done. I had originally
imagined that Rhino would do something like the
jewel-case-in-a-cardboard-sleeve that they had used for the reissues of LOADED
or FOREVER CHANGES, both of which I find cumbersome and easy to damage. I also
often have mixed feelings about "digipaks", but I like the mini-LP feel of
these. Unlike a lot of non-standard CD packaging, I had no problem getting the
CD or booklet out of, or back into, the sleeves.
I am glad to see the printed lyrics restored. As a bonus, the lyrics to "Little
Johnny Jewel" are included for MM and "Adventure" for ADVENTURE! The CDs
themselves are printed with a design lifted from the old Elektra LPs, a nice
touch common to Rhino reissues.
I happily take back my insinuation, made several months ago, that Alan Licht
shouldn't be writing the liner notes. I was wrong! He's done a good job with
both reissues, producing a comfortable mix of recording, songwriting, and
historical details. It's also good to see so much new commentary from Richard
Lloyd and the elusive Mr. Verlaine about the writing and recording of each
album (nothing from Ficca and Smith, though, as far as I remember - I don't
have the discs with me right now). The story about Andy Johns setting up the
drums is hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both booklets (and learned
quite a few things I never knew before).
Andy Zax (who helped produce the reissues) was accurate in calling the sonic
upgrade over the previous CD versions "drastic". Both CDs sound a lot fuller
and sharper than their predecessors, even without headphones. Of the two, I'd
say ADVENTURE is the most noticeably improved, perhaps because the original CD
issue sounded so flat. The new CD is brighter and the stereo separation is much
wider. MARQUEE MOON is also improved, although the original CD wasn't as flat
to begin with so the improvement isn't nearly as dramatic. However, to my
surprise, the noisy static I've always complained about in "Venus" (in the
right channel around 0:17) and "Friction" (in the right channel around
4:07-4:09) is *still* present on the remaster! So either Rhino couldn't remove
this static or didn't know it was there. Interestingly, it's also audible in
the alternate version of "Friction", leading me to believe it might be a
problem with the original multitrack tape(s). I'll have to pull out my vinyl
copy and see if the static is there, too, or if it's the result of damage along
the way. The static is slightly less prominent on the new MARQUEE MOON CD, but
it's definitely still there. It's my only disappointment with the reissues (and
a pretty minor one at that).
I still maintain that the last half of "The Dream's Dream" is a movie
soundtrack just waiting for the right film.
Maurice already did a great job describing the bonus tracks. I'd like to add a
bit on the MARQUEE MOON "alternates". I think "See No Evil" is pretty
disposable - it just sounds like Richard playing along with the regular track.
For me, the only interesting part is Tom's double-track vocals during the
chorus. Richard's alternate solo in "Marquee Moon" is quite cool. But my
favorite is easily "Friction", which has a completely different feel from the
LP version. The guitar carrying the melody is pushed way back in the mix, with
a considerable amount of echo added. Same for the lead vocal. This has the
effect of emphasizing the rhythm section. The rhythm guitar parts are rougher,
giving the track a more garage-y feel (and making it even more dynamic than the
LP version). Like Maurice said, it's "creepy and unsettling". I'd call it the
equal of the LP version if they hadn't dropped my favorite guitar bit (around
3:13, under the "stop this head motion, set the sails" lyric).
Most importantly amongst MARQUEE MOON's bonus tracks, "Little Johnny Jewel"
sounds great - its best ever. For once, it's nice to hear this *not* from vinyl
(no offense, Keith). It's got more depth than I am used to hearing. The
beginning sounds as it *might* -- just *might* -- be clipped. I can't be sure;
it might be because I'm comparing it to my old copy from vinyl which included
the rattling drum kit audible on the 1979 Ork 12" single. Anyhow, given its
history (with the master tape once thrown-away, apparently, and then recovered)
it's amazing this track even exists on tape. I'm grateful that it has finally
given it the exposure it deserves.
Maybe someday we'll get an official release of the rest of the songs from the
session that yielded "LJJ", from August 1975. They are on the DOUBLE EXPOSURE
CD, but I'd love to hear them with a sonic upgrade similar to the one we have
now for "LJJ" (and have them play at the right speed, unlike DOUBLE EXPOSURE).
As for "Untitled Instrumental", aka "Oh Mi Amore", it's a pretty ramshackle,
tinny, out-of-tune performance. But it's fun to hear - shame they never
completed "Oh Mi Amore" for either LP.
The ADVENTURE bonus tracks are pretty much beyond criticism - as far as I am
concerned, Rhino picked exactly the right tracks for inclusion and made them
sound beautiful. The one track I wasn't familiar with before this reissue, the
lengthy "Ain't That Nothin'" run-through, is a lot more interesting and
engaging than I had expected.
When these reissues were first announced, I figured I was so picky when it came
to Television that almost anything Rhino did would disappoint me in some way -
the same way I've been disappointed (to some degree or another) with previous
Television-related releases like THE MILLER'S TALE, the 1994 DREAMTIME reissue,
the TOM VERLAINE and FLASHLIGHT reissues, etc. But honestly, there really isn't
an item here I can criticism - nothing even approaching show-stopper territory,
anyhow. Rhino has done a beautiful job in the all-important sonics, in finding
bonus material from a band that unfortunately didn't record much while they
were with Elektra, and in packaging these discs in a manner befitting their
historic and artistic importance. I'm almost always impressed with Rhino's
reissues, and this time is no exception. I've waited years for these reissues,
and it was worth the wait.
I'm sure I'll have more thoughts as I get to spend more time listening. And as
soon as my copy of LIVE AT THE OLD WALDORF arrives!
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