Television was a very cool band -- cool in the way that its music was sort of the heady nonpunk stuff that still resonates some 25 years later. And if you were one of the few thousand folks who actually bought Marquee Moon back in '77, you have yourself a real claim to prescience. Of course, no one bought the record until years after its release, when it became ultra-hip to drop its name in reference to the alternative scene of the '80s. Make no mistake about it, Marquee Moon stacks up well in rock's pantheon as a good record that, years later, still sounds fine.
Richard Lloyd played the guitar on Marquee Moon and was probably the guy most responsible for the really swell fretwork. It's a shame that Television made only one other record (which wasn't as good, but may be an even hipper reference to toss around nowadays), but its band members haven't entirely disappeared. Lead singer Tom Verlaine has released several solo albums, as has Lloyd. The Cover Doesn't Matter, Lloyd's first disc in 16 years, features some fabulous playing, and the group he's assembled rocks like a manic bar band playing for drinks. Lloyd's guitar solos and noodlings live up to all hype, as they zig and zag around walloping rhythms. The tunes here are all pretty likable, and Lloyd doesn't lose his grip on things too much, though his lyrics tend to meander a bit. But the singing is another matter entirely. Can't anyone else in this band sing? Sure, Lloyd's mug graces the cover, but c'mon, these vocals are strained (they could be called "throaty" or "rough," but that would be misleading). Sadly, this record sounds good otherwise -- damn good -- but it's certainly an unwelcome chore getting by the messy vocals.