Elektra Records (U.S.), E-133, 1978
Ain’t that Nothin’
The Dream’s Dream
Elektra Records (U.K.), K52072, 1978
Elektra Records (U.K.), K52072, 1978, on red vinyl
Tom Verlaine: Lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Richard Lloyd: Guitar, vocals
Fred Smith: Bass, vocals
Billy Ficca: Drums
(Solos on "Days" and "Ain't That Nothin'": Richard Lloyd
Solos on others ('switchblade guitar on "The Fire"): Tom Verlaine.)
The obvious thing to say about this would be that it isn't as good as "Marquee Moon", and everybody said it at the time. It isn't the same as MM, which is a different thing all together. Why do the same thing twice?
(Thanks to Jan Rumsey, who once lent me a copy of this album for two weeks when I desperately needed to hear it and didn't have any money to buy it!)
When I first heard the album right through, I was struck by the sense of more space - as if the songs, the ideas, were given more room to breathe.
'Marquee Moon' always seemed to be anchored/locked in New York; with 'Adventure', the sound, the songs move out of the street and into... somewhere else. It's as if 'Marquee Moon' was stating, "We're here, now," and 'Adventure' is saying, "and this is where we're going", and the title suddenly makes more sense.
'Glory' and 'Foxhole' were the ones which reviewers commented on first, as if they were the best because they were most like the songs on MM. As if they were OK because this is what Television is supposed to sound like. But anyone familiar with the progression of ideas and experimentation in Verlaine's later albums will know that it's not possible to anticipate where he will look next. Sure, 'Foxhole' sounds as if it should have been on MM, but it sounds right at home here, too. It's the angriest moment on 'Adventure', with some incredible biting guitar and "In the line of duty, in the line of fire/A heartless heart is my proper attire."
The percussion and bass are perfect throughout - they always seem to play the right things. It's the kind of rhythm section that you almost wouldn't notice unless they did something wrong - which they never do. The guitars follow their own conventions and, as with MM, you never get to hear anything throwaway or ordinary. Richard Lloyd plays some great guitar all over the place, with a perfect, to-the-point solo on "Ain't That Nothin'". Although the solos are credited to Verlaine or Lloyd and the guitar telepathy is intact, it seems a much more Verlaine-directed project, and the different directions of their later respective solo work would seem to bear this out.
All of these songs now seem to be 'about' relationships, in a much less cryptic sense than the songs on MM. Which doesn't mean, of course, that the nature of the relationships or their problems are any more obvious. To quote from "Days" - a gentle, drifting song carried along with some easy rhythm and lovely guitar: "Up on the high, high hills - with my floating friend - Watchin' all the silver - no one can ever spend./I feel the touch of her hand and all it will erase...". "Careful" is almost jaunty, with its 'putting-a-brave-face-on-it' attitude to love and its almost-traditional guitar fills.
"Carried Away", full of space and longing and tremeloed-guitar chords, establishes the feel that will characterise the second half of the album. There's an air of vulnerability to these songs which would, perhaps, have seemed out of place on MM. It also hints at a romanticism which will emerge, to varying effect, on later Verlaine albums.
For me, the highlight of 'Adventure' has always been "The Fire". "Storms all that summer we lived in the wind, out in some room in the wind." The spare drums and melodic bass line leave space for Verlaine's guitar to wind around the lyrics. The sudden key change in the second verse adds to the air of wonder. The guitar break in the middle, which moves from simplicity to ferocity, says as much as the words. If the song is about confusion, loss, regret, (is it?) then it's all echoed in these lines of "switchblade guitars" (sleeve credit). It's just about my favourite piece of Verlaine guitar, even though there are other, more startling passages. The whole six minutes defines a mood, a feeling, that I know I must have had, sometime. It ends with a note of finality, of acceptance and sadness.
The other beauty here is "The Dream's Dream". Constructed round beautiful winding guitar lines, all repeated motifs and harmonics that almost drift as if trying to reconstruct something half-remembered from a dream, it's full of space and longing. One short verse that seems to make no real sense at all (when you're awake?) and then Verlaine's guitar picks its way over the simple, spare rhythm and piano; the slow fade at the end, with its eerie guitar shapes suggests something which you might hear, try to remember, as you wake up. It's as if the sound of the rest of the band slowly dissolves, leaving nothing but echoes.
"Adventure" sounds like a band slowing down a little, stretching out and heading, well, who knows where? In the event it was heading towards commercial failure and Richard Lloyd was heading out but, whatever tensions were to drive Verlaine and Lloyd apart, "Adventure" is a far better album than it's usually given credit for and, at times, quite beautiful.
And, no, it doesn't sound any better on red vinyl - but it looks cooler.