Tom Verlaine: Souvenir from a Dream (1978)

 |   |  1 min read

Tom Verlaine: Souvenir from a Dream (1978)

After the exceptional Television fell apart in '78 following their classic debut Marquee Moon and the lesser Adventure, guitarist/singer and writer Tom Verlaine dropped from sight for a year.

During that time he quietly went about recording his self-titled debut album in two and three day sessions.

With a core of Television bassist Fred Smith and Patti Smith's drummer Jay Dee Daugherty (plus a few others including the singer Deerfrance from John Cale's band at the time), Verlaine delivered an album that was almost flawless in production (it was mixed by Bob Clearmountain) and only let down by lacking the raw tension and dynamic with Television guitarist Richard Lloyd which had made their debut album so extraordinary.

He opted for a more melodic guitar style which many noted pulled back rather than extended itself in the manner of his best work.

But such comparisons were uncalled for because Verlaine was clearly moving on from the taut energy of Marquee Moon and in tracks like the eerie Souvenir From a Dream and the claustrophobic Kingdom Come ("I'll be breaking these rocks until the Kingdom comes . . . up in the towers they're watching me, hoping I'm gonna die").

He was reaching towards another sound entirely.

tom2

That the piano (Bruce Brody who was on the Patti Smith Because the Night session) rather than guitar was prominent in some places spoke volumes, and here too the edgy pop element evident (Red Leaves, Breakin' in my Heart which was a cousin to the track Marquee Moon) was also interesting.

There were a couple of lost opportunities, notably the throwaway Yonki Time which sounded like Pere Ubu on happy pills and not much more.

But alongside Kingdom Come (which Bowie later sensibly covered), Souvenir from a Dream -- which Tom described as "might easily be the second part of Venus de Milo" off Marquee Moon -- counts among the best songs in Tom Verlaine's now lengthy solo career.

It is a hypnotic piece of spectral, poetic lyrics coupled with compelling music.

Listen now. 

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Murray McNabb: The Way Out is The Way In (2002)

Murray McNabb: The Way Out is The Way In (2002)

If the New Zealand Music Awards had a category for best reissue or best best archival release, the exceptional double vinyl The Way In Is The Way Out would be a shoe-in. Subtitled "The... > Read more

Lou Reed: Foot of Pride (1992)

Lou Reed: Foot of Pride (1992)

At the time of the 30th anniversary concert celebration at Madison Square Garden in October '92 of Bob Dylan's debut album -- with a happy Dylan performing -- few would have thought the subject of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Yes; The Triple Album Collection

THE BARGAIN BUY: Yes; The Triple Album Collection

Here's a story from the battleground of fun: In recent months I have -- for purely academic purposes, you understand -- been buying up cheap vinyl by prog-rock and glam-rock bands. It's kinda... > Read more

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

Of all the artists to emerge in the past two and a half decades, you can effortlessly make the case that Steve Earle has moved the most. With confidence, and often great success, he has worked... > Read more