Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine

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Tom Verlaine scores a solid winner on his first solo release. Not surprisingly, many of the songs here suggest the music of Television, his former band, especially in the use of vibrant and full guitar textures and frequent solo break sections in which to feature them. Verlaine's fey vocals surprisingly do not detract from the gutsiness of these numbers. Several of the songs here utilize hooky initial guitar riffs in the tradition of 1960s bands like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Beatles, most notably on "Flash Lightning," "Kingdom Come," and especially "Grip of Love." Two selections, "Red Leaves" and "Mr. Bingo," show mild swamper influence; the former also has subtle psychedelic touches in the chorus, while the latter (when Verlaine's vocal enters) suggests a Lou Reed number. Even more Lou Reed/Velvet Underground-oriented is the lengthy and wonderful "Breakin' in My Heart." "Last Night" is a noble slow-tempo number with unusually noticeable keyboard usage. And "Yonki Time" is a daffy, loping, bluesy selection with bizarre tongue-in-cheek lyrics and quirky production touches -- a fun work to hear. This is a top-notch solo debut that bears repeated listenings.

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