Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime [Warner Bros., 1981]
A pop boho and an ecstatic mensch, an exalted lead guitarist who loves to chunka-chunk that rhythm, Verlaine is a walking, cogitating rock and roll contradiction. Granted, the solo-with-backup hierarchy does constrict his wild gift a little. But Ritchie Fliegler's Richard Lloyd simulations get the job done, and anyway, this is Verlaine's best batch of songs since Marquee Moon--two years' worth, ten in all if you count the one that goes "Hi-Fi." Elsewhere, Verlaine evokes the touchy ironies of urban love--passion and detachment, adoration and despair--with deftness and soul. A-