Marquee Moon is one of my favourite albums of the ’70s so this should be right in my wheelhouse. And it mostly is.
Verlaine is a better songwriter than a lot of his contemporaries (with the notable exception of David Byrne), though he’s hardly an all time great. He has a good sense of melody, he writes a little unconventionally but conventionally enough for most people, and his lyrics are usually thoughtful and above average.
But, let’s be honest, nobody is really here for the songs. We’re here for the guitar playing and Verlaine is in fine form. I miss Richard Lloyd rather a lot as Fliegler is hardly that kind of foil (nor is he intended to be, clearly). Verlaine is a great and interesting guitarist but in Television he had another great – and arguably more interesting – guitarist and the two drove each other. I like many of Verlaine’s solos a lot – perhaps none more than the one on “The Blue Robe,” one of his very best ever – but I do think he’s might be at his best when he has another guitarist of equal talent to respond to.
The production is very, um, deliberate. There is plenty of echo and lots of weird, quirky touches on various instruments. In that sense it really does feel like a product of its time. Verlaine will never be my favourite producer. I do think this would have slightly more punch without so much “ringing” (for lack of a better word).
I haven’t heard his debut yet, so one thing holding me back a bit in my enthusiasm is I sort of assume that is better. (I have no idea, but it was first, at the very least.) I like this a fair amount but he’s really not doing anything particularly different than he was in his former band.