What the Hell Is Up with Richard Lloyd?

Since I’ve already garnered a ton o’ hatemail from rabid Eric Clapton defenders due to my only partially tongue-in-cheek dis of “Timepieces,” I may as well go full-tilt into a more personal brand of Kill-Yr-Idols spleen-venting and pick on Richard Lloyd a little bit.

Now, let’s just get a couple of stone truths out of the way: first, I loves me a great deal of Richard Lloyd’s work.  He’s a brilliant guitar player, and has been a great asset on records by people like Matthew Sweet (see Girlfriend and Altered Beast).  Of course, he was Tom Verlaine’s foil in Television, and I think it’s fair to say that they both did their best work together.  Second, he’s obviously very decent about sharing the musical knowledge, generously putting music lessons online and doing monthly columns in one of the guitar rags.  Third, his solo albums “Alchemy” and “Field of Fire” both have some pretty stellar moments.

But surveying his work from the last five years, I really only have two questions.

  1. What the fuck?  and,
  2. Doesn’t Lloyd have someone around him to say, “Hey, uh, y’know, this might not be the best idea you’ve ever had…”?

His 2007 album wasn’t good, but at least it comprised original tunes — and hey, bad Richard Lloyd guitar work is better than most players’ best, definitely including mine.  But, honestly, look at this cover and try to imagine in what universe this seemed like a good option:

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Yeah, I get it — but it’s horrible.  I wasn’t optimistic about what Lloyd would do next.  But I never expected an album of Jimi Hendrix covers.

Seriously.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Now look, Lloyd can do whatever he wants as an artist.  But man, I wish he hadn’t done this.  Just like Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” diminishes his work on “For Your Love” (for me, anyway), so this new Richard Lloyd album — bewilderingly titled “The Jamie Neverts Story” — makes me hear not just his solo work, but even Television in a somewhat different light.  And it’s not a complimentary light, either.

Television were never the most photogenic band, and that was fine — but I don’t want to be thinking about THIS every time I put on Marquee Moon or Adventure:

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That image is the stuff of Lovecraftian nightmares.  And somebody thought it was a good idea.

How’s the music?  It’s there, just waiting to be ignored.  It’s like a dust bunny — easy to avoid thinking about if it’s not right in front of you, but the kind of thing you want to remove from your house when you actually notice it.  Lloyd’s a great guitarist, and so this isn’t a complete embarrassment.  (Although, honestly, an album of Jimi covers by an inept guitarist would at least have some amusement value.)  But Lloyd doesn’t ADD anything to Hendrix’s originals (good luck with that) nor does this collection do anything to enhance Lloyd’s own ouevre.  It sounds pretty much like Richard Lloyd playing Jimi Hendrix.  And if that’s exactly what you were hoping to hear from Lloyd, well, you’ve got your wish.

I really hope his next record is better than either of these.  I’ll listen to the next one despite these two, but man, three strikes of this magnitude and it may be game over as far as I’m concerned.


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