Deep Dive: Tom Verlaine – The First Five Years

Friday, December 13, 2019
tom verlaine

Today we celebrate the birthday of Tom Verlaine, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for his work with the band Television. Just because that’s why he’s best known, however, doesn’t mean that it’s all he’s done, which is why we thought we’d celebrate his birthday by doing a deep dive into the four albums he released during the first five years of his solo career.

•    TOM VERLAINE (1979): If you think Verlaine’s self-titled solo debut sounds more like a Television album than anything, well, there’s a reason for that: several of the songs were originally intended for the band. In the end, that didn’t happen, but they still turned out to be classic entries into Verlaine’s solo catalog, kicking off his album in critically-acclaimed fashion. Probably the most notable track on the album is “Kingdom Come,” as it was subsequently covered by David Bowie on his SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS) album.

•    DREAMTIME (1981): Creatively speaking, Verlaine clearly was in no slump when he released his sophomore album. Even better, it provided him with his first solo entry into the Billboard 200, with the album climbing to #177. Yes, we know, it’s not like it went triple platinum, but all things considered, that’s still pretty amazing.

•    WORDS FROM THE FRONT (1982): While not as acclaimed as its predecessors, Verlaine’s third album was still greeted rapturously by the UK press, with New Musical Express citing it as one of the top 50 albums of 1982. Also notable is that fact that Lene Lovich guested on two tracks: “Days on the Mountain” (on saxophone) and “Postcard from Waterloo” (on vocals).

•    COVER (1984): Once again, a critical smash which wound up in NME’s top 50 albums of the year, but it didn’t make its way into the Billboard 200. On the other hand, it climbed all the way to #35 on the Swedish Albums chart. No, we don’t know why. Well, you know, aside from the fact that Swedes have notoriously solid taste in music...