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                          TOM VERLAINE                             Born Wilmington, Delaware, 1949. It's a mystery to many that Tom Verlaine's solo career, though quantitatively far more productive than his
work with Television, has produced so few moments equal to those from the band's albums. Here was the
New York guitarist of the moment: a major name you'd have tipped to have an enduring influence. In 1979, the year after Television disbanded, both Verlaine and fellow Television guitarist Richard Hell [sic?]
released solo albums. Tom Verlaine, on Elektra, the same label that had signed his band, received greater
attention and better reviews, and the road ahead looked promising. A second solid album, Dreamtime,
appeared in 1981 on Warner Brothers, and it hit the US charts (albeit at #177), something Marquee Moon,
Television's finest achievement, failed to do. Verlaine's oblique, jagged guitar playing was drawing
comparisons to Neil Young, and the lyrics were looking better than on Television outings, although some
were turned off by his affectedly high voice. Verlaine's next two albums were supported with live appearances on both sides of the Atlantic, and again
both were glowingly reviewed without breaking through as major sellers. Words from the Front (1982) and
Cover (1984) did little to enlarge his fan base, but they did indicate slight departures. Cover, though full of
now-dated drum technology (including the dreaded beatbox), was brightly produced, and used Verlaine's
limited vocal range to great effect. He even had a go at a couple of ballads among his usual rhythms, including
"O Foolish Heart", which bordered on the sentimental. After a three-year hiatus, during which Verlaine lived in both New York and Europe, he released Flashlight
(1987) on the Fontana label and did a great deal of promoting and touring in the UK. His live playing
suddenly seemed disaffected, but Flashlight blistered, from the opening single "Cry Mercy, Judge", to the
scintillating "A Town Called Walker", perhaps the best example of Verlaine's taut guitar patterns. "The
Scientist Writes a Letter" was undoubtedly his best ballad to date, a delicate song in which Verlaine talk-sung
to touching effect. By 1990 Verlaine was talking about re-forming Television, and his old bass player, Fred Smith, co-produced
his next solo album, The Wonder. It featured all the Verlaine trademarks, including the failure to chart, a
factor in his re-forming Television for one more album, released in 1993. After a while out of the public gaze
during which only saw the guitar-instrumental album Warm And Cool (1992), Verlaine re-emerged in 1996
with a 'best of' anthology, A Miller's Tale, which suggested that, with a little more focus, things could have
been different.     Flashlight (1987; Fontana/IRS). Verlaine's sound has always been tricky to capture on record, but this
    snazzily produced album comes closest. His guitar work is peerless, and the tuneful "A Town Called
Walker" and "Cry Mercy, Judge" shine, while the aching beauty of "The Scientist Writes a Letter" comes
through in a rich vocal performance.     A Miller's Tale (1996; Virgin). This is two discs: a 'best of', which isn't quite what it says, including
    uncollected singles for the fans; and a storming live CD recorded in London in 1982 which really is
Verlaine at his best. Mike Martin                                    ROCK HOMEPAGE Taken from the Rough Guide to Rock. * Rough Guides Ltd. First edition published Aug 96 / Nov 96 (USA). Distributed by
WEB MASTER: Al Spicer. DESIGN AND SCRIPTING Henry Iles & Ben Rudder.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
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