On Tom Verlaine: It Was Punk Rock For Musicians!

Paul Grimstad at n+1:

Small miracles of performance and conception can be found all over that first Television record. It helps that everyone plays their asses off. The rhythm section of Billy Ficca and Fred Smith gives the guitars a fluid grid over which to launch a bunch of great ideas: the pinwheeling kaleidoscope that forms the nucleus of “Venus”; those 16th rest gear shifts that slice the chorus of “Elevation” in half; the solo of “See No Evil” which dissolves Framptonish puffery into a minimalist reboot of Chuck Berry; “Guiding Light”’s trad gospel F# triad over a pedal C# (hark—a piano!), over which Lloyd plays a throwback solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bob Welsh record. My favorite moment comes eight and a half minutes into the title track, after the two guitars have been squirming and spiraling their way out of the D major counterpoint with which the tune starts, finally defaulting to bare ascending octaves. And then the lost D major returns, only it has changed into a rainbow shimmer of arpeggios, at the center of which there seems to be a bird chirping! How Verlaine manages to get that bird to appear from out of his Fender Jazzmaster remains a source of wonder to me. It’s one of the most gorgeous and mysterious things ever to happen on an electric guitar.

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