Must bring Tom Verlaine
to everyone's attention.
Tom Verlaine's guitar playing inspired me to keep practicing. When everyone else around me, my fellow high-school and college students playing guitar in the mid-to-late 70s, set up camp in separate nations: powerchords or endless noodling or aspirations of very sophisticated jazz or cookie-cutter pop, Tom Verlaine's unique guitar playing gave me hope. Anyone who loves guitar or investigating the roots of new wave, modern and indie rock who doesn't already own or hasn't already heard the album Marquee Moon by Television
, the critically acclaimed, popularly ignored band Verlaine co-led with Richard Lloyd
, should run buy it to obsess over it for awhile. (The solo albums "Tom Verlaine" and "Dreamtime" are gems, too.)
Television were the first rock band to play at CBGB
? which after all stands for Country, BlueGrass and Blues; were the ones who figured "What the hell, we need a place to perform, even if the place isn't for rock & roll bands, what do we have to lose?, let's just ask."
Because members of Television approached CBGB owner Hilly Kristal
, everything changed. New artists were given more chances, and new ideas became much more plausible in the realms of modern rock, punk, alt-rock, indie rock and related styles. Without that one small act of bravery, our modern musical universe would undoubtedly have turned out looking and sounding very different.
As I type, I'm listening to songs from Verlaine's first new album in over a decade, Songs and Other Things, from a page at ThrillJockey.com
, his label's site, where one can stream all of "Songs..."' 14 tracks.
Listening to new Tom Verlaine makes me very happy. Bring "The Day On You" or "Shingaling" up on your monitor speakers and become very happy too.
This is a laid-back set by and large, without much of the fire I'm used to. But as I readjust my expectations to hear what's there, I realize that if one listens not for blazing licks, but listens like one does to tasty blues tracks ? that is, immersed in the flow of choosey riffs and solos but floating on the strong, fluid backbeat ? it works. One key reason I adore Sleater-Kinney
's The Woods is that it's influenced by Television's (and so Verlaine's) sound; it echoes & revives Verlaine's way of straddling rock's tributary streams, standing on an edge between multiple genres, at a point where art and pop meet, minimalism and realism time-share, the sound of a new, true-to-self musical signature is forged. You can hear best what Sleater-Kinney borrowed on Verlaine's new songs "Heavenly Charm" and "All Weirded Out".
Bottom line: I love this guy.
Like another Jersey guy releasing a new album (Bruce Springsteen
's "The Seeger Sessions" comes out the same day! [I think]), Verlaine, born in Morristown, NJ, and Springsteen have both released new music this week which shows their age -- but in a good way.
Verlaine plays Bowery Ballroom in NYC on May 18.