I’ve been wanting to play something from guitarist Tom Verlaine’s excellent 1992 album Warm and Cool for a while now, but I couldn’t decide which piece to showcase. I decided to pick two. But first, if you don’t know the band 1970’s band Television, where Verlaine shared guitar duties with Richard Lloyd, please go and immediately buy (or download a torrent or whatever) their 1977 debut album Marquee Moon. This is an instance where all the critics are right: it is a masterpiece. They were a part of the New York CBGB’s punk scene, but this is not a punk band. There’s a lot of rock history I could talk about here, but I want to get to the music, so go read the wikipedia article and get the album.
Warm and Cool is an album of guitar-centric instrumentals, some of which are fully formed songs, others just little sketches. Some are well-composed pieces, others clearly improvised. Overall the tone is noir-ish, jazzy, and atmospheric. It sounds somewhat like the soundtrack to a lost Jim Jarmusch movie about flying saucers set in the 1950’s. Here’s the opening track, the smoky Those Harbor Lights. And the other side of the coin, a Sonny Sharrock-like squall, Lore. Patti Smith famously said that “Tom plays guitar like a thousand bluebirds screaming.” Sounds about right for this track.