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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Tom Verlaine - "A Future in Noise"

By January 18, 2013

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tomverlaine.jpgThe producers of long-running CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother have for some time been able to count me as a fan of the show's madcap alternating blend of sophisticated, goofy, lowbrow and heartfelt humor. However, this week's episode took my admiration to another level, as the chronicles of romantically yearning architect Ted Mosby enjoyed the extra benefit of a masterful and impressive soundtrack choice as the credits rolled on yet another subtle but significant insight into the promised payoff of the show's title. The guitar work on Television's groundbreaking 1977 classic LP Marquee Moon is nothing short of stunning from groove to groove of that record. The show's choice of that album's brilliant and moving "Guiding Light" to accompany a hefty narrative moment qualifies as utterly transcendent in the best way that the fusion of filmed entertainment and pop music can exemplify the word. Exhilaration doesn't come along that often while watching primetime network TV, so I always make a point to note and appreciate such moments.

That segues nicely into this week's feature, taken from Television frontman Tom Verlaine's 1981 solo album Dreamtime. Full of the angular post-punk guitar lines his former band helped introduce on the early New York City punk rock scene of the mid '70s, "A Future in Noise" effectively communicates its composer's technical gifts while also celebrating the emotionally powerful effects of his tremulous vocal style. At its best, the music of Verlaine (as well as Television in general) celebrates musical complexity while at the same time managing to tap into primal emotions and the core potential for great music to express the otherwise unknowable. This tune also happens to rock just a touch harder than Television's generally dreamy sound, delivering some nice melodic touches as well as a central driving lyrical nucleus that helps the guitars pierce all the deeper: "I gotta keep about a mile from you. Arm's length, now that won't do. I gotta keep about a mile from you." As always, Verlaine's portrait of searching desperation manages to heighten the immediacy of his compelling guitar work.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

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