Richard Lloyd's reputation as a guitar hero, born on the Bowery with Television in the '70s and sweetened by dynamic contributions to albums by artists like Matthew Sweet, John Doe, and Health & Happiness Show throughout the '90s, is undisputed; but his work as a solo artist has been a less public matter. His respectable debut, Alchemy, came out in 1979, just a year after Television's last '70s release. His sophomore effort, Field of Fire, didn't emerge until six years later, after a bout with drug addiction. The Cover Doesn't Matter represents his first solo studio album in 15 years. (In the intervening years, besides his work with other artists, he dedicated himself to fatherhood and teaching guitar.) This self-recorded project finds Lloyd part of a stripped-down trio -- including bassist Peter Stuart and drummer Chris Butler (the Waitresses) -- that offers gritty, melodic guitar pop. Richard's a quite capable singer and songwriter -- but, as would be expected, it's the guitar work that really propels things. Nevertheless, for a musician of such notorious stature, Lloyd's playing on The Cover Doesn't Matter is deceivingly economical. There's no showboating, rather a pointed and focused virtuosity that pushes this solid effort far beyond the "for Television fans only" realm. Highlights include "Ain't It Time," a slice of catchy pop/rock wrapped in elegant guitar figures; "Torn Shirt," which harkens back to Lloyd's grand, old early punk days at C-B-G-B (sample lyric: "You've got a new song, now you're just dying to sing it.../but you've got the torn shirt, hanging out and waiting for the party to start"); and "Downline," which rises again and again on Lloyd's euphoric solos.
AllMusic Review by Erik Hage