Quasimodo, Berlin, 3rd April 1987
Souvenir from a Dream
The Scientist Writes a Letter
Clear It Away
The ideal recording of Tom Verlaine in action at the time when he was playing material from "Cover" live - which is just fine by me. "Cover" is a usually-underrated album in the Verlaine canon but, for those of us who rate it highly, this is a must-have recording. Songs like "Dissolve/Reveal" gain something from being stretched out into a live groove. The sound recording is clear, sharp and well-balanced; Verlaine's guitar, in particular, sounds great - listen to the way it snarls its way through "Bomb" and spirals around the second part of "The Scientist...". For once, the vocals are actually pretty audible.
Everything is beautifully-played, the other three musicians playing with great sympathy for the songs (catch the way they flow into the reggae-ish lines in the middle of "Penetration".) Verlaine sounds "on" the whole time. In "Kingdom Come" he goes from a whisper to a scream; in "Marquee Moon" and "Glory" he's more fluid, more mellow-toned, perhaps, than you might expect. But the interplay/connection between the two guitars produces little rhythmical/tonal whirls of sound; one minute they're building little patterns, locking into each other - the next (as in "Psychotic Reaction") they're raging against each other.
"Swim" glides and then slides, on a shimmer of high notes, into "Clear It Away" which is urgent and fierce but still full of space and shade. Verlaine's guitar rips and tears at the song - and a word of praise here for Jimmy Ripp, whose guitar here is characteristic of the way his playing gives support and structure to the songs.
This is one of those recordings you should play to people who demand to know just what's so special about Tom Verlaine anyway.