Acoustic Sounds
By: Michael Fremer

January 15th, 2024

Rhino High Fidelity's New Reissue of Television's "Marquee Moon"—Great Sound or Totally Wrong?

I argue that the original was no accident and the reissue sounds totally different

Rhino's "High Fidelity" series released last week a reissue of Television's classic "Marquee Moon" cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, using the original analog master tape. The reissue sounds great! Far better than the original pressing in terms of bass response, transient clarity and all of the audiophile "check marks" but, I argue, it's not likely what Tom Verlaine intended at all!

That's partly due to the fact that mastering engineer Kevin Gray was not familiar with the album or with the original pressing. The recording was produced at Phil Ramone's legendary A&R Studios (Getz/Gilberto and 100s of other great sounding records), engineered by the late Andy Johns, who surely knew how to record rock music, and mastered at Sterling Sound by (or so the credits read) Greg Calbi and Lee Hulko both of whom have incredible mastering resumes.

I asked Greg about this and he told me he doesn't recall mastering the record though he's credited. He also said that by then Lee Hulko had stopped cutting. He suggested Ted Jensen actually cut it. I'm checking on that.

So, I argue, the original did not sound as it did by accident! Watch the video! And for a truly remarkable essay about the album and punk rock generally (though "Marquee Moon" was not punk rock!) read Joe Washek's essay


  • 2024-01-15 11:00:01 AM

    Ray Seda wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for voicing this concern. I have struggled with this over many "great-sounding" reissues over the years. When I mention that these recordings sound "Wrong", people think I'm bat shit crazy! The sterilization of an amazing record and recording like the Townshend/Lane "Rough Mix" is a great example. The original UK Polydor was perfection, tape hiss and all. The rest are lifeless and soul-less "audiophile-quality" records. The reissued Gentle Giant catalog is also completely without merit. Great recordings, remixed and remastered to the point where the dynamic expression is gone, in favor of easy-listening, easy-to-track compression.

  • 2024-01-15 11:35:53 AM

    Todd Ellenberg wrote:

    So glad you reviewed this reissue, I was wondering about it. Early in 1976, I saw Television for the first time (with a quirky trio called Talking Heads opening), and they were incredible...and bought their album as soon as it was released. Always been an album that jumped out of the speakers, treble excess and all. I did pick up the Chris Bellman 2012 reissue (Chris Bellman mastering) so I'd have an extra copy...sounds good to these ears but not quite as striking as the original. Any that

  • 2024-01-15 11:37:58 AM

    Todd Ellenberg wrote:

    Meant to write 2012 Rhino reissue...any thoughts on that one?

  • 2024-01-15 12:34:12 PM

    Jimhb wrote:

    What is your opinion of the 2012 AAA Rhino Bellman cut of Marquee Moon?

    • 2024-01-16 12:21:44 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Malachi Lui has the Bellman cut. I do not. He has ordered this one and will compare.

  • 2024-01-15 01:46:40 PM

    Spencer Marquart wrote:

    Hi Michael. Are you saying the Steely Dan UHQR’s are not true to the originals? The only one I thought was suspect is the much talked about “Pretzel Logic”. Otherwise “Thrill” and “Aja” sound remarkable. And I appreciate your take here. I look forward to hearing my copy in a few days and as a huge fan of the record, it’ll become clear soon if the “spark” of the original is gone.

    • 2024-01-15 07:50:45 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I didn’t mean that at all! Sorry if that section sowed confusion!

  • 2024-01-15 02:06:44 PM

    Seamus MacGleannain wrote:

    I tend to agree with Michael on Marquee Moon. I think the original intent was to make the sound ''spikey and edgy'' to give the music more aggression. Kevin Gray admitted he never heard the album before he mastered it.

  • 2024-01-15 02:08:07 PM

    Seamus MacGleannain wrote:

    Also, I am veering away from buying reissues of music I already have and will only buy LPs I missed first time round or found hard to get.

  • 2024-01-15 02:11:46 PM

    Lemon Curry wrote:

    I understand what is behind your rant. You have a strong connection to the original. But, let's consider the recent Rhino High Fidelity release of The Cars. That reissue TOTALLY altered the sound, compared to the original. There were raves for the release, including here. They were well-deserved. But for me, the change was so dramatic that it made the case for owning both - the original, AND the reissue. Another case where I find this to be true is with the recent reissue of The Replacement's "Tim", remixed by Ed Stasium. He completely removed the heavy reverb of Tommy Erdelyi's original mix. I love, LOVE the new version, but it's different, isn't it? And tho I haven't measured it, the original remains the more dynamic choice. Should we reject the new edition because it's different?

    As with The Cars, I suspect folks will love the reissue. Mine is on order - it should arrive any day. If it ISN'T amazing, I'll amend this statement. But just like with The Cars, we have both versions and that's just fine. For me, if the tonality makes sense and the dynamics are there, it's legit.

    It's worth pointing out that Rhino, amongst AAA competitors like AP and the boutique Intervention, is alone putting out $40 records. Hurray for that! Hurray for their latest!

    • 2024-01-16 12:23:46 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I really liked "The Cars". I thought it captured and improved on the original. Not everyone agrees. Which is fine. I think the Rhino "High Fidelity" series is outstanding overall.

  • 2024-01-16 12:39:32 PM

    anothercosta wrote:

    Is it usually the case that a mastering engineer, re-mastering a previously released recording, does not listen to the original release? Seems like a common sense place to start?

    • 2024-01-16 03:47:16 PM

      Malachi Lui wrote:

      it really depends on if the reissue producer specifically wants the mastering engineer to match the original

  • 2024-01-16 03:23:10 PM

    Paul Robertson wrote:

    Rant? Keep Ranting please.

    For me, absolutely nobody does commentaries or reviews of music better than MF period.

    Television? Knew of them, but other than that I missed the boat entirely. I'm looking forward to checking them out.

    Thank you for the insight!

  • 2024-01-16 07:28:57 PM

    Buzz wrote:

    Appreciate the review, the intent of an original’s sound is not talked about nearly enough. I wish we could get the idea into more people’s heads that better sound can mean different textures and unique vibes.

  • 2024-01-16 10:18:47 PM

    Manolo Konosko wrote:

    This band and album received a lot of attention only because they were around the same time the Ramones then Blondie and the Talking Heads began their careers performing at CBGBs in NYC. The difference between Television and the other 3 bands is that those had commercial appeal and became successful while they were not, mainly - as Paul Thtanley of KITH would describe - because they sucked. “Marquee Moon”, like “Trout Mask Replica” is an album to display, rather than to play. Robert Cristgau and the rest of the professional rock and pop music listeners have the album 10/10 scores. But if you don’t get it then it must be because you’re “dumb”. As far as sound is concerned, the album sucks, so it could have been mastered by Ronco Records, as I don’t care.

    • 2024-01-17 12:38:32 AM

      Chris Kelly wrote:

      Couldn't agree more. I listened to the album in full yesterday to see if I wanted to jump on the new Rhino release. Musically it doesn't stand out to me at all. It sucks.

      • 2024-01-17 07:21:21 AM

        Lyle Parker wrote:

        LOL. My opinion of Marquee Moon and Trout Mask Relics is the total opposite. I love and have listened to both extensively for many, many years. It doesn’t bother me in the least that others think differently. Just wanted to weigh in on behalf of two of my favorite albums.

    • 2024-01-17 04:06:35 PM

      Malachi Lui wrote:

      i love (and own) 'marquee moon' and 'trout mask replica', but 'marquee moon' is infinitely more listenable than 'trout mask replica'.

      • 2024-01-18 05:48:22 PM

        Joshua Whitney wrote:

        Agreed; I've tried to connect with Trout Mask Replica a couple different times and just couldn't do it. Marquee Moon, however, is an album I have enjoyed immensely. My Rhino reissue sounds great, and I'd love to hear how that reissue compares to this one.

  • 2024-01-17 05:33:57 PM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    I have copies of the original LP and a CD of Marquee Moon, and although they are musically interesting the sound on both is awful. Screechy and bassless. Hard to listen to. Even if that was Verlaine's intention, bad sound is still bad sound. Maybe I would like the new version better.

    • 2024-01-19 12:13:32 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      You definitely will!

  • 2024-01-18 04:53:32 PM

    Paul wrote:

    I never heard of the until I saw them at the Bottom Line in NYC in 1978, when Adventure came out. Jaw dropping performance, I "got it" right away and it has become a beloved recording in my collection...although I sent it to my third cousin as a Christmas gift with the new version on order (and the 2012 on my record rack). Of course I'm gonna disagree with negative commentary on the record/performance/songs, perhaps it's over-hyped but personally I think not. Ficca is a fantastic drummer, bass lines are great and the two lead guitars are so good that the album had to list which solos were done by each artist. Most of the kudos were in the press with fairly limited sales over the years so I don't think they rode on anyone else's coattails without earning their place in the pantheon of the punk/rock continuum. Clearly, your mileage may vary but I'd recommend trying it out, if you love it you'll be grateful you did! Paul

  • 2024-01-18 06:14:16 PM

    Bill Houston wrote:

    I find this artist intent vs. audophile recording controversy fascinating.

    How would we apply this rationale to the 2014 Led Zeppelin remasters? Jimmy Page oversaw the re-masters and has proclaimed them the definitive versions. But, Mr. Fremer, after listening to the LZ remasters didn't you state that the artist should not be involved with the remastering and there were better versions available? Is this an instance of the artist not altering the "sound" of the record but failing to get the most out of the sonics within that sound? But ultimately isn't the digital LZ remasters overseen and approved by Page the definitive version (even if I disagree with him)?

    Or are you advocating the mastering engineer being educated to the artist's intent and then submitting the best sonic versions within those aesthetic parameters to the artist for review, but not actively working with the artist during the mastering process?

    • 2024-01-19 12:22:05 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I don't think Jimmy Page was involved in the original sound of Led Zeppelin records. He definitely was involved in the CD box set reissue, which was not good. And he is now too. He is listed as "producer" of the original release on Discogs, and we all know how that RL cut sounds, so obviously he's had a change of opinion and now wants it digitally mastered, dynamically compressed and mediocre sounding. Like so many others. Actually in this video I'm not advocating anything! I'm simply stating that this reissue sounds great but I don't think it's what Verlaine was going for or would want. Page is alive and what he now wants is of course his business. He's in charge. It's not what I would want....I'm not saying there's a hard and fast rule here either.

      • 2024-01-19 07:43:05 PM

        bwb wrote:

        Page was in his early 70's in 2014, IMO too old to be making decisions on what sounds the best At some point the remastering needs to be left to younger ears, not 80 year olds that played in rock bands (like Mr. Page). Or any 80 year old for that matter (like Mr, Grundman)

  • 2024-01-19 09:23:11 PM

    Andrew Curtis wrote:

    One thing not mentioned... On early LPs the song Marquee Moon went for 9.58. By 1987 on CDs it went for 10.40. After that on some releases it goes for 10.47. According to Discogs this release goes for 10.43. Whatever the exact timings, newer versions have approximately an extra 40sec. And they're GREAT! The original version has a nice fade while Verlaine is still singing, but my CD at 10.47 seems to have the correct ending, with the band finally petering out after a massive jam. It feels right. It makes Side A go for a little more than 23min. Maybe this is why they cut 43sec from the original? Sorry to be a nerd.

  • 2024-01-20 12:12:34 AM

    Eric Taylor wrote:

    Well…. your video was definitely full of a lot of speculation. I’ll give it that.

    • 2024-01-20 12:34:21 AM

      Eric Taylor wrote:

      Plenty of detailed truths as well, don’t get me wrong. Just leans a little too heavily on assumptions disguised as suppositions, but that’s nothing new in the “art” of review.

    • 2024-01-20 12:34:23 AM

      Eric Taylor wrote:

      Plenty of detailed truths as well, don’t get me wrong. Just leans a little too heavily on assumptions disguised as suppositions, but that’s nothing new in the “art” of review.

    • 2024-01-20 12:34:24 AM

      Eric Taylor wrote:

      Plenty of detailed truths as well, don’t get me wrong. Just leans a little too heavily on assumptions disguised as suppositions, but that’s nothing new in the “art” of review.

    • 2024-01-20 12:34:26 AM

      Eric Taylor wrote:

      Plenty of detailed truths as well, don’t get me wrong. Just leans a little too heavily on assumptions disguised as suppositions, but that’s nothing new in the “art” of review.

    • 2024-01-20 12:34:27 AM

      Eric Taylor wrote:

      Plenty of detailed truths as well, don’t get me wrong. Just leans a little too heavily on assumptions disguised as suppositions, but that’s nothing new in the “art” of review.

  • 2024-01-23 08:53:18 PM

    craig bradley wrote:

    I got my copy today. My pressing has some whooshing sounds on the lead in to "Evil" and in between the next song. Anyone else have issues? And comparing the original vs the new pressing I do miss some of the top end on the cymbals.

    • 2024-01-27 07:36:06 PM

      Lemon Curry wrote:

      Yes, after Evil before Venus. Not a typical whoosh, more like a rumble. That's where it was loudest. But there are noisy moments here and there. It's easily the noisiest RHF I've gotten. The killer for me is that there are little micro scratches in spots. I really couldnt hear any until the last few seconds of Torn Curtain. Click click ugh.