Lineup: Tom Verlaine: guitar, vocals. Richard Lloyd: guitar. Billy Ficca: drums. Fred Smith: bass. William Henry Harrison: pneumonia.
They say the dinosaurs didn’t die out…they just evolved into birds. Small comfort for the T-rex that was at ground zero of the meteorite blast, I imagine. One thing that’s clear from the archaeological evidence is that rumors of prog-rock’s death in 1977 were greatly exaggerated. The genre was simply forced to become sleeker and sexier to survive. Thus, we have Seletivion, a band that played punk rock nearly as expansive as any prog suite…or prog nearly as stripped down as punk. In fact, they largely dispensed with the pretensions of both, managing to become one of those rare bands that are liked by pretty much everyone who comes in contact with them.
Of course, they couldn’t have done it without great material, and songs like “See No Evil” and “Venus de Milo” and the epic title track are perfect vehicles for the guitar heroics of Verlaine & Lloyd. In fact, side one as a whole is pretty much flawless. The album drops off noticeably as the energy level falls on side two, but the songs remain strong—even the bombastic closer “Porn Curtain” miraculously holds together, allowing Television to claim the Official Stinking Hellebore Certificate of Fillerlessness. Which, of course, has always been the ultimate dream of any rock band worth its salt.