Tom Verlaine's second album as a solo artist after disbanding Television is not groundbreaking or innovative as much as it is consistent. What is distinctive about Dreamtime, aside from its thick guitar fortifications, firm stance, and unwillingness to modify a sound he believed in, are the issues surrounding the making of these recordings. The first session was marred by the usage of poor quality reel-to-reel tapes, barely yielding only half an album. Other songs had to be re-recorded with different players, due to the original band's unavailability. There's also a strong connection with Patti Smith, who Verlaine toured with when leading Television. First session bassist Fred Smith, also from the original Television group, keyboardist Bruce Brody, and drummer throughout, Jay Dee Daugherty, are major contributors to the uniform texture of the tunes. It's hard to pin down a single highlight, but several rank as distinctive. "Without a Word" is molded in the classic Television style, with repeat guitar lines from Verlaine and Ritchie Fliegler, "There's a Reason" is self-explanatory and prototypical, while "Fragile" revises Byrne's distant vocal foresight, with Verlaine claiming someone "stole my secret," and further adds the repeat guitar hooks. "Penetration" is likely the rave fave, at once propelled, strutting, and plodding with the sparest of diffuse guitar, and inferences -- sexual or otherwise -- galore. "Always" sports the kind of cooled, ambiguous message under no frills rock & roll, with Verlaine exclaiming he has a clue on "the best kept secret in town." Then there's the effeminate singing of "Down on the Farm," evocative of Dave Thomas and his stressed out style, the slow funky R&B elements of "Mary Marie" enhanced by the organ work of Bruce Brody, and a choogling Creedence Clearwater Revival ramble during the mainly instrumental jam "The Blue Robe." Perhaps the most advanced track, "A Future in Noise" epitomizes the disarmed CBGB's vibe with slightly built intensity, resolutely controlled. Not so much a set of tidy, trimmed concepts when one listens closely, as it is a vision of an artist laying it all out from the bottom of his heart. Many would easily admit Dreamtime is Tom Verlaine's shining hour.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos