. . .
The old saw about you have your entire life to write your first album, but only a year to write your second was both true and not true when it came to Television’s second album, 1978’s Adventure: after all, there were plenty of songs left in Television’s back catalog that could have been used for either Marquee Moon or Adventure, which they started recording in late 1977. Songs like “Hard on Love,” “Double Exposure,” “O Mi Amore,” “Poor Circulation” (which they were still playing on their last tour) or even their version of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Fire Engine” would absolutely have enlivened Adventure, giving it more of the rock that made their live shows such a gas.
But noooooooooooooooooooo, Tom Verlaine had to be an artiste, and none of these older tunes made it — don’t even get me started on “Breakin’ in My Heart,” the Future Certain Song which closed Tom Verlaine’s first solo album — so six out of Adventure’s eight songs were brand new. To everybody, meaning that they had to learn them in the studio.
That said, one of those songs was the utterly stellar opening track “Glory,” which didn’t come out and knock your socks off like “See No Evil,” but definitely told you that Adventure was going to be denser than Marquee Moon, if not as great.
Anchored by a corkscrew riff and a counterpoint Fred Smith bass line, “Glory” finds Tom Verlaine listening to the rain yet again.
I was out stumbling in the rain
Staring at your lips so red
You said, “‘Blah, blah, blah.”
I got a pillow stuck in my head
How could I argue with a mirror?
She looked at me – yes, I hear her
The first thing you notice about “Glory” is all of the overdubs: while Marquee Moon was often just Verlaine one speaker and Lloyd in the other, I can hear at least four guitar parts before they get anywhere near the chorus — a strategy that Verlaine would perfect on his second solo album Dream Time — which is surprising, but not nearly as surprising as what happens on the chorus: harmonies.
When I see the glory
I ain’t gotta worry
When I see the glory
I ain’t gotta worry
Whereas the backing vocals on Marquee Moon were all call-and-response, here Fred Smith and Richard Lloyd (and probably Verlaine) are all singing together. And you know what? It’s so catchy and pretty, I’ll allow it. In fact, I’ll allow it so much, I don’t even care that Verlaine rhymed “glory” with “worry,” without even pretending that they rhymed.
Between those overdubs and Verlaine’s utterly killer guitar solos throughout, “Glory” is so chock full of studio-enhanced goodness — I love Verlaine’s vocal overdubs over the repeated chorus during the fade — that you might not even notice that drummer Billy Ficca, whose drums on Marquee Moon were practically a third lead instrument, is doing very little more than playing a straight beat: there’s really no room for him to do anything else.
I know it sounds like I’m complaining about all of this, but if Television were going to commercialize their sound, then I’m glad that the results were this great. “Glory” and the song that follows it, “Days,” were really the songs where all of the bands who were influenced by Television stole from: after all, it’s much easier to use those songs as templates than the utterly sui generis “See No Evil” or “Venus.” But I can see — I can remember! — how disconcerting Adventure felt at first, and I think that Verlaine thought that putting two long dirges on side two — “The Fire” and “The Dreams Dream” — would somehow make up for the catchy pop songs on side one.
But I’ve never thought Adventure quite hangs together — hardly fair, given that most bands never make a single record as great as Marquee Moon, let alone two — despite some great songs, at least one of which would have been a highlight on Marquee Moon. As we’ll discuss next week.
“Glory” Live (Probably 1992) (Check out Verlaine vs. Lloyd at the end)
“Glory” Live in Fuji, 2002
Tom Verlaine “Glory” 1984
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