Richard Lloyd

The Radiant Monkey

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As a guitarist, Richard Lloyd is every bit as gifted as Tom Verlaine, his former partner in the band Television, but his history as a songwriter is a good bit more problematic (for every good song in his catalog there's another that clearly needs work), and the fact Lloyd released a mere three studio albums between 1979 and 2001 suggests he's had some issues with the notion of fronting his own band. Thankfully, Lloyd's 2007 album The Radiant Monkey suggests that after all these years he's coming to terms with the demands of a solo career. The Radiant Monkey appeared a relatively swift six years after 2001's The Cover Doesn't Matter, and is largely devoted to tough, chunky rockers that give him plenty of room to show off his skills on the Stratocaster without descending into cheesy showboating. Lloyd demonstrates some soulful, Keith Richards-style picking on "Swipe It" and "Only Friend," "Monkey" opens with some admirably freaked-out patterns that will please fans of Lloyd's work with Rocket from the Tombs, and the fractured pop of "Amnesia" will do the same for folks who remember Lloyd's incendiary live shows with Matthew Sweet. Elsewhere, "Big Hole" sounds like a sly Richard Hell satire from a guy in a position to discuss his style firsthand, and the loose, swaggering boogie of "One for the Road" is solid roadhouse rock from a guy with so cerebral a reputation. Lloyd played everything on the albums besides drums (manned by Chris Purdy and, on the song "Kalpa Tree," Billy Ficca), and his production is lean, straightforward, and to the point -- according to the liner notes, he made all the guitar sounds without the use of effects boxes, and his broad range of tones and textures is a powerful testament to his generous talents. And if Lloyd still has a ways to go as a lyricist, the 11 songs on The Radiant Monkey reveal no obvious clinkers and more than a few witty, street-smart passages that mesh well with the demonic guitar work. The Radiant Monkey is Lloyd's most satisfying work since the epochal Field of Fire in 1985, and if he can crank out one like this every three or four years, the guy might finally have a career of his own after all.

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