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Tom Verlaine - Profile

  by Jon Rogers

published: 16 / 4 / 2006

Tom Verlaine - Profile


After a 14 year absence from recording former Television frontman Tom Verlaine has released two albums at once, 'Songs and Other Things' and 'Around'. Jon Rogers examines both CDs

Typical. You wait 14-years for a new Tom Verlaine album to turn up when, just like buses, two come along at the same time. The last time the former frontman of acclaimed New York punk outfit Television released an album was back in 1992 with his entirely instrumental 'Warm and Cool' and the last time he committed vocals to a record was 1990's 'The Wonder'. While there's little here on both albums that stands up in the face of 'Marquee Moon' (admittedly very few albums do) it's warming to have Verlaine back and on remarkable form - even if at times things get a little messy. On tracks like 'The Earth Is in the Sky' and 'Heavenly Charm' on 'Songs and Other Things' Verlaine's brittle but robust vocals accompany some wonderous guitar touches that hark back to Television classics such as 'Venus de Milo'. Here he makes the songwriting process seem so effortless and simple. What made Verlaine stand out from his peers was his actual ability and desire to actually play his guitar and on songs like '"The Day On You', 'Orbit' and 'Nice Actress' that ability is on full display. At times though it all goes out of focus. 'Shingaling' is little more than an idea scribbled on a napkin and in need of working up into something more substantial. The instrumental album 'Around' ploughs a similar field to the previous 'Warm and Cool'. Here the mood, for most of the time, is more subdued and reflective than 'Songs and Other Things' and gives full expression to Verlaine's intricate guitar playing. The setting starts off with the meditative 'The O of Adore' an ambient, cinematic piece as if watching the sun rise in an Arizona desert. And while the overall element of tranquillity is there, there's also the hint throughout of some disturbing Lynchian darkness coming up just around the corner. And there's a bash at some Caribbean calypso on 'Meteor Beach'. The ties with Verlaine's past with Television and that band's role in the CBGB's scene is still present. Television bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca lend hand across both albums while Patti Smith's drummer Jay Dee Daugherty helps out on 'Songs and Other Things'. Unfortunately, there's no sight of Richard Lloyd.

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Tom Verlaine - Profile

Tom Verlaine - Profile

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