# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Tom Verlaine - Ten Songs That Made Me Love...

  by Mark Rowland

published: 26 / 5 / 2023

Tom Verlaine - Ten Songs That Made Me Love...

The Boardroom in Carlisle had an excellent jukebox. I have a lot to thank it for, as it introduced me to Television. I don’t know who put on ‘Marquee Moon’ on the jukebox, but from its opening chords I had to sit up and take notice. This month, we lost Tom Verlaine, who was instrumental in shaping the sound of Television through his distinctive guitar playing, literate lyrics, and uniquely wobbly yelp. Since then, I’ve been listening to Television’s three albums and digging into Verlaine’s three solo outings. Picking ten songs was extremely difficult, but if this list introduces others to the brilliance of Verlaine and Television it’s done its job. 1. ‘Marquee Moon’ (‘Marquee Moon’, 1977) As this song kicked into gear, with its hammered lead line and loping bassline, I tried to place what it was. This was the era of the Strokes, and I could certainly hear that band in the sound of this song, but it was more experimental, more uniquely atmospheric. And it just kept going. Eventually, I got up to look at the jukebox to find out who it was. “Oh, Television”, I thought. “I’ve been meaning to listen to them.” I bought the album of the same name a few days afterwards. 2. ‘See No Evil’ (‘Marquee Moon’, 1977) When you have a song as brilliant as ‘Marquee Moon’, the temptation is to skip to it. Even if the rest of the album is great, it may not be enough to stop you from going back to the song you fell in love with. So my first listen to ‘Marquee Moon’ the album involved some low key trepidation; would the rest of it live up to the title track? ‘See no Evil’ put my mind at rest, its semi-droning, stuttering single chord underneath bust lead lines and a propulsive bassline, opening up into it bright, jangly chorus. This was nothing like punk as I understood it – even artists that came from a similar place, like Patti Smith, did not have the complexity and musical chops that television had. It was like the Velvet Underground if they could all really play. 3. ‘Venus’ (‘Marquee Moon’, 1977) While ‘See No Evil’ reassured me of the quality contained within ‘Marquee Moon’, it was ‘Venus’ that really hooked me on Television. It was one of the most memorable songs on my first listen, in part because of Verlaine’s pronunciation of ‘Venus De Milo’, which left me wondering if I’d been saying it wrong all of my life. ‘Venus’ is one of Television’s most playful songs, but again, it’s chock full of amazing guitar work. It’s showy in a unique way; not cold and perfect, but energetic and emotive. 4. ‘Elevation’ (‘Marquee Moon’, 1977) Look, I could fill this entire list with songs from ‘Marquee Moon’, it’s a perfect album, but there are other gems across Televisions sparse back catalogue. The last I’ll include is ‘Elevation’. Coming straight after the title track, this is more brooding and dramatic. Its odd little rhythmic quirks, such as the unexpected chord at the end of “Elevation, don’t go to my head”, keep surprising you many listens later. 5. ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ (Single, 1975) Looking into Television’s history, it’s natural to want to hear them in their original, raw state. Alas, it was never captured on record, with original bassist Richard Hell leaving before the recording of their debut release, ‘Little Johnny Jewel’. That record is, however, a sort of gateway before their original form and what they would become. It’s certainly much looser and more raw than the songs on their albums, with instruments drifting out of rhythm and a few missed notes here and there. It all comes together into one jazzy, disorienting trip. It also reaches almost 10 minutes, setting a precedent for the jams the band would go into in the future – albeit in a more structured way. 6. ‘Foxhole’ (‘Adventure’, 1978) Television’s second album, ‘Adventure’, is a somewhat softer listen than ‘Marquee Moon’, but it still rocks. ‘Foxhole’ is one of the album’s more rocking moments, capturing some of the angular, sleazy rock ‘n’ roll vibes that they were known for from their early days, delivered with tight precision. 7. 'Carried Away’ (‘Adventure’, 1978) ‘Carried Away’ captures the other side of ‘Adventure’ – something sweeter and gentler. The song channels old rock ‘n’ roll ballads through a contemporary, jangly lens. It’s a beautiful piece of work, building to a wonderful chord progression as the song opens up and Verlaine sings: “Your head was golden, there was lightning in your arms/And then the glass shattered”. 8. ‘Days’ (‘Adventure’, 1978) I almost didn’t include ‘Days’, the second track from ‘Adventure’, but it’s just too lovely to leave off. The guitar work on this song is unreal, again capturing that sweetness that sets ‘Adventure’ apart from ‘Marquee Moon’. The band’s former album is undoubtedly their masterwork, but ‘Adventure’ has an awful lot to offer. 9. ‘Kingdom Come’ (‘Tom Verlaine’, 1979) When I first listened to Tom Verlaine’s self-titled solo album, I struggled to get into it. Yes, it had Verlaine’s unique inflections and guitar work, but it felt like it was missing something (which says something about how Television was greater than the sum of its parts). Slowly, however, I grew to appreciate what it offers. ‘Kingdom Come’ seemingly predicts the direction of travel for music as it moved into the 80s, with its synth and guitar work and gated drums. Elsewhere, the album looks backwards with its sleazy rock moments such as ‘Mr Bingo’ and off-kilter opener ‘The Grip of Love’, but with ‘Kingdom Come’, he set a template that many would follow – something that David Bowie clearly saw when he covered the song on ‘Scary Monsters…”. 10. ‘There’s a Reason’ (‘Dreamtime’, 1981) ‘Dreamtime’ is Verlaine’s finest solo work. While it doesn’t reach the heights of his work with Television, it’s consistently great. Opener ‘There’s a Reason’ is one of its finest moments, with a riff that is very Verlaine. It’s one of the more energetic moments on the album, an exercise in controlled chaos. Verlaine’s solo career lasted until 2006’s ‘Songs and Other Things’, but most of this solo work is hard to find – completely absent from streaming services and not easy to get physically. It’s a shame that so much of his work is seemingly erased from the most popular music platforms, but hopefully, in the wake of his death, more will seek out his work and bring it to a new audience.

Also In Ten Songs That Made Me Love...

Band Links:-

Play in YouTube:-

Picture Gallery:-
Tom Verlaine - Ten Songs That Made Me Love...

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit


In ‘Ten Songs That Made Me Love…’ Mark Rowland reflects on his favourite ten songs by Tom Verlaine with Television and in his solo work.


Profile (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

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors