Tom Verlaine’s Albums Reissued On Collectors’ Choice

Television was the anomaly among the New York bands who broke out of the CBGB scene of the late '70s. Musically adventurous and expansive in contrast to its minimalist scene mates, the band was two propelled by two inventive guitarists: Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Of the two, Verlaine kept the torch lit with a series of nine post-Television solo albums. His second and third long-players — 1981's Dreamtime and Words From The Front from 1982, both originally released on Warner Bros. Records — are thought to be two of his strongest. The two albums will be reissued on September 16, 2008 by Collectors' Choice Music, with liner notes by Jason Gross, editor of Perfect Sound Forever.

Debate rages among Verlaine fans about which is his best solo album but a significant camp opts for Dreamtime, his 1981 sophomore release, with its dense, ringing instrumental interplay. Highlight tracks include "There's a Reason, " "Penetration" and "Always." The all-star band featured Verlaine on guitars and vocals; Fred Smith (Television), bass; Bruce Brody (Patti Smith Group, Pretenders), keyboards; Jay Dee Daughtery (Patti Smith Group, The Church), drums; Rich Teeter (The Dictators, Twisted Sister), drums; Ritchie Flieger, guitar; and Donnie Nossov (John Waite, Pat Benatar, Lita Ford), bass. In the liner notes' oral history by the band members, bassist Smith recalls, "Recording with Tom was much the same as recording with Television. The only difference was for Television's Marquee Moon, we played that stuff for years live. [On this album] there was stuff that developed in the studio." Daughtery added, "There's an improvisation and intensity to his music with dynamics and tension that builds and subsides." And Nossov summed it up: "I thought artistically, it was a very successful record. I'm sorry that more people didn't get to hear it. But maybe that will change."

For his follow-up to Dreamtime, Verlaine decided to challenge himself, and instead of falling back on familiar producers and band members, wiped the boards clean by enlisting all new personnel. As annotator Gross states, "It wasn't just a far cry from Television but even from his previous record. As such, Words From the Front has the distinction of being Verlaine's most underappreciated album, which makes this reissue a great excuse to re-evaluate it." Musicians included Jimmy Rip, guitar (who had never previously heard Verlaine's work, but with whom he's now played for 25 years); plus Mink DeVille members Joe Vasta, bass; and drummer Tommy Price. Highlights are "Present Arrives, " "Postcard from Waterloo, " "Coming Apart" and "Days." The album does contain one Dreamtime out-take, "Clear It Away" (which featured Verlaine's former rhythm section, Jay Dee Daughtery and Fred Smith), noted for what Gross describes as its "dark atmosphere, ghostly guitars . . . and voice [that] trails off wildly." The liner notes conclude: "Sad to say, the pop world wasn't ready for an ambitious record like this, not while it was in the throes of MTV, Thriller, Survivor, Men at Work and Human League . . . Restless spirit that he is, Verlaine just kept going his own way regardless as he always has — a model of single mindedness and an amazingly idiosyncratic combo of singer/songwriter and guitar that's not often seen."

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