Thursday, May 18, 2006
Tom Verlaine Returns
Photo by Barry Brecheisen. From http://www.marquee.demon.co.uk/
This week I learned of not one, but two new releases by Tom Verlaine, guitarist from the amazing NY punk band Television. These, after a hiatus of fourteen years. Verlaine has been active all this time, composing film scores and touring, but has resisted a "careerist" sort of path. Finally lured back into the studio, he has brought forth a complementary pair of albums, reflecting his various musical inclinations. 'Around' is a collection of instrumental vignettes, spacious and atmospheric. Listeners looking for guitaristic fireworks will be disappointed, at least to judge from a couple of the customer reviews at Amazon. But if you're listening for exquisite tone, and a perfect sort of inflection and timing, don't hesitate. Verlaine is joined by Television bandmates Billy Ficca on drums and "the illustrious, the ever-elegant" Fred Smith on bass. 'Songs and Other Things' is just that. Here he's joined by sidemen Jimmy Ripp on guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums, and Fred Smith. While I wouldn't rate this as Verlaine's best solo effort, it does offer a satisfying handful of new material. His playing is undiminished, and his poetic lyrics are as good as ever. At this point in his career, he seems far more concerned with understatement and indirection in his playing than any display of overwhelming virtuosity. He remains one of the most musicianly guitarists to be found anywhere, and I'm glad to have these new documents of his art.