Richard Lloyd holds one of rocks greatest resumes. As a member of the preeminent punk/art band Television, he and Tom Verlaine created a magical sound and presence in their brief history by playing intricate Velvet Underground-influenced rock that was sadly ahead of its time. A listen to the live document The Blow Up confirms all this and more-breathtaking interweaving of guitar fury and stellar tone, even though the record sounds like crap. Lloyd went on to play guitar for Mathew Sweet and John Doe among others since the demise of Television, a truly sad event. Along with Bob Quine, who played for Richard Hell and the Voidoids as well as Lou Reed, Lloyd helped define New York punk guitar, a sound that still echoes in the music of such bands as Luna.
The Cover Doesn’t Matter updates the Lloyd sound with a surprising toughness that listeners expecting another Marquee Moon might find a little rambunctious. “The Knockdown” opens things up with a great Jeff Beck-ish riff, and when Lloyd sings, it’s not the unpleasant caterwauling we come to expect from guitarists — of course, he sounds better than Verlaine did in Television, but that’s not really saying much. The record is 10 cuts of well-crafted pop songs, sounding at moments like Marshall Crenshaw (“Ain’t It Time”) or even Television on “Raising The Serpent”. “Submarine” is chock full of nifty sounds wretched from Lloyd’s Stratocaster, and features nasty little bits of guitar noise. Got to love that.
In fact, if you, like myself believe that American punk hit the high water mark around 1977 or so and the remaining 20 years (geez, we’re getting old…) have been mostly a torturous slide down to mall punk land, then you probably will love this disc. Catchy songs and nimble fingering go a long way these days, and Richard Lloyd seems to know this quite well.