Tom Verlaine | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Tom Verlaine 

Marquee Moon, Television's 1977 debut, has a well-deserved reputation as one of the all-time great rock 'n' roll albums: it's a perfect mix of killer hooks, poetically gritty lyrics, and incendiary, gorgeous guitar interplay. That made it a tough act to follow, and though most of Tom Verlaine's solo releases contain songs that match Television's best, his career away from the band has been a commercial bust. He hasn't played Chicago on his own since 1988, and until a month ago he hadn't put out a new record since 1992. Now he's released two, both on Thrill Jockey, and each is as different from the other as they are from that career-shadowing monolith. Songs and Other Things avoids Marquee Moon-style epics and interlocking guitar patterns in favor of short tunes with arrangements precisely tooled to the demands of the songs--each jewel-like fill, exquisitely lyrical solo, or earthy rhythm lick supports a turn in one of Verlaine's choked-up narratives, which oscillate between sly erotic come-ons and earnest romantic entreaties. Around comprises 16 tense, marvelously evocative instrumentals that visit some of Verlaine's familiar haunts (noirish funk and jazzy mood pieces) along with new environs: the echo-drenched "Meteor Beach" has a playful West African vibe, and his droning slide work on "The Suns Gliding" conflates Indian-inspired glisses, Hendrixian distortion, and Brit folk's noble melodicism. It's a shame Verlaine is avoiding songs from Around on the road--he's completely ignored it at his recent east-coast gigs. Instead he's been leading his band, which includes drummer Louie Appel, Television bassist Fred Smith, and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Ripp, through a set that emphasizes Songs and Other Things and highlights from earlier solo records. Mon 6/12, 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $17 in advance, $19 day of show, 18+.

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