July 17, 2019

Tom Verlane

Tom Verlane (1979)

The front man of Television with an impressive debut album.

One of the main reasons I wanted to write about music is that it would force me to seek out old albums that have just never hit my radar before for one reason or another. Apple music has been doing a great job finding hidden gems, so I've got a great opportunity to find so much new (old) music.

Dark Days

As a kid growing up in the early and mid 80s, classic rock FM radio had zeroed in on about 18 of the most popular songs between 1967 and 1975 and refused to stray outside of that zone. If it wasn't "Sweet Home Alabama" it was "Stairway To Heaven" or "Won't Get Fooled Again".

Top 40 radio certainly wasn't going back and playing some of the more alternative music from 1979. Maybe you'd get some Stevie Ray Vaughan or Dire Straits for a bit of a break, but ultimately, it was dark days for a kid that loved music.


Television is one of those bands that I had always heard about but never actually heard. I had also seen CBGB a few years ago and that reaffirmed the stories I had heard of the legend of Television. A few weeks ago, they showed up in my recommended list so I gave it a shot. I didn't get a chance to really take it all in but I heard enough to know to come back.

Today, Apple Music recommended Tom Verlaine's 1979 debut album and I made the right choice by listening to them. This is the perfect example of the complete random new finds I hope to find as I start to write about them.

The Album

At first listen, it lives in the universe I expected from listening to Television the other night. What I wasn't expecting is how well it was executed. It flows effortlessly from bouncing post punk to early 70's Greenwich Village art rock. At the same time it can flash some blues and 50's rock or even some early hints of new wave and even goth at times. None of it feels out of place or derivative. It's all sincere.

It sounds perfectly placed in New York in 1979. It sounds like it's meant to be an homage to Lou Reed but at the same time it pieces together bits of the past to create something entirely new to set the standard for what that great scene should sound like as the 70's ended.

It's sincerity is reflected perfectly in the production. It's very understated. The guitars do not go to 11 on this one, but that doesn't make them any less brilliant. Layered and dense at times, everything has a purpose where you get these beautifully lush melodies that build up to an absolutely perfectly placed solo. All these bits are part of a team effort to construct these wonderfully sounding songs songs that still sound great 40 years later...

...and I had never heard any of them before today.