Tom Verlaine’s Retrospective 4LP RSD Box Set Souvenir From A Dream Collects the First, and Quite Worthwhile, Phase of His Post-Television Solo Career

A new box set compiling the initial four solo album releases by tastemaking Television guitarist/vocalist Tom Verlaine is an ultimately wondrous affair. I’ve quite enjoyed exploring this timely 4LP assemblage from Rhino — titled Souvenir From a Dream: The Tom Verlaine Albums (1979-1984) — which celebrates Verlaine’s initial musical life beyond Television, his highly influential CBGB-era alt-punk band.

Before we get to the techie stats for this new box set, I want to discuss the importance of having all four of these albums — Tom Verlaine (1979), Dreamtime (1981), Words From the Front (1982), and Cover (1984) — together in one place, When I first heard about Souvenir From a Dream, my mind immediately turned to the world of collectible vintage vinyl albums (a universe I inhabit daily!). On the surface, it always felt like Verlaine’s early catalog from the Warner Communications era — i.e., his initial solo release on Elektra, the label Television was on, and then his three ensuing Warner Bros. releases — were more or less accessible for those who sought them out. But when I started really considering the reality of the situation, it became pretty clear to me they are actually quite scattered in terms of availability.

A quick search on Discogs underscores this scenario. At the time of this posting, there were just 15 copies of Verlaine’s self-titled 1979 debut for sale in the U.S., with only five of them listed in NM condition. The three other titles have similar inventory, with less than ten copies each of Dreamtime, Words From the Front, and Cover respectively in similar shape.


Out in the wilds of collecting — whether it be in physical stores, flea markets, and/or garage sales — the Tom Verlaine LP doesn’t show up that much anymore. It used to, but clearly those who wanted it got it, and now they’re clearly keeping it in their collections alongside those cherished Television albums. After all, that’s what I do (and so does AP editor Mike Mettler, for that matter).

Mostly, one comes across Words From the Front and sometimes Dreamtime too, but you rarely see Cover these days. The bottom-line takeaway is, putting forth good reissues for these albums was certainly in order — if not overdue — and how sweet is it to get them all in one generally pretty swell-sounding package to boot.

Since we here at AP appreciate knowing all the crucial DNA details underlying any vinyl reissue, we reached out to the good folks at Rhino to glean more insight beyond what we found in the liner notes about the contents of Souvenir From a Dream. All four of these single LPs were remastered by Chris Bellman with Bill Inglot at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, California, with the new vinyl lacquers cut by Bellman directly from the original analog tapes. The albums were manufactured at GZ in the Czech Republic, and each LP appears on crystal clear vinyl. The SRP for this 4LP box set is $99.99. It was initially released on April 20, 2024, as a Record Store Day Exclusive, in a limited run of 2,300 copies. Currently, there is no information as to whether future standard black vinyl editions of the Souvenir set will be made available, or if the four albums might be issued individually at some point, so getting this box set is a good call, in our collective opinion — and you can check on its current availability right here.

The Souvenir box set also includes a brief, four-page booklet filled with heartfelt recollections about Verlaine (who sadly passed away at age 73 in January 2023) from friends, collaborators, and all-around music icons such as Lenny Kaye, Fred Smith, Steve Wynn, Mitch Easter, Cameron Crowe, The Edge of U2, and many others.

Of the music contained in Verlaine’s first four post-Television solo releases — which I admittedly hadn’t listened to in a number of years — there are some interesting details I’ve discovered while revisiting them for this review. Firstly, I remember the music on these records way more than I thought I did, and I genuinely like it much more than I thought I might. (This latter point is important for me personally, as I am in the midst of a collection downsizing, so these LPs will make the cut and remain onboard.)


In fact, this review is making me reconsider which of the four albums might be my favorites. After the debut solo album, historically, I’ve leaned towards Words From the Front as my next go-to Verlaine spin, but now I’m finding Dreamtime to be an equally wonderful listen. I am even appreciating his final Warner Bros. release, Cover (its label designation now having been recast, as the other two also have, as Warner Records, as seen above), much more than I have in the past for its somewhat experimental and musically searching nature.


Overall, the new reissues inside the Souvenir From a Dream box set are pretty solid. Album by album, the physical labels aren’t quite what I call “period accurate,” but these are minor aesthetic nits to pick. For example, the Elektra logo on the debut album should have been white print on the red label, not black. Also, the cover art for each LP is not quite as distinctive as my originals, despite the construction being high-quality.

Souvenir From a Dream is ultimately a well-intended, good-quality package that won’t break the bank for most collectors/listeners, if you look at the $100 SRP breaking down as being $25 per each LP. What follows are some of my thoughts about the music and sonics, album by album, including specifics on how the new pressings compare to the originals.


Tom Verlaine, the artist’s eponymously titled solo release from 1979 on Elektra, is widely considered to be his best, especially when considered in the aftermath of the breakup of Television ahead of it. It is easy to hear this music as effectively another Television album.

This LP contains the original version of Verlaine’s “Kingdom Come” (Side One, Track 3). which was covered by David Bowie on his September 1980 classic LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). something that, in many ways, further — and firmly — solidified Verlaine’s legacy among the elite royalty emanating from New York’s punk/alternative downtown underground music scene of that era.

This reissue of Tom Verlaine sounds real nice, and is perhaps the closest overall of the four to my original — maybe even better, actually. This new edition seemed to be mastered a bit more quietly than my original pressing — which is a little bit louder, and brighter — enabling a bit more room for the musical dynamics within to breathe. (Music: 8.5 / Sound: 8)


Dreamtime, Verlaine’s second solo album from July 1981 and his first under the Warner Bros. label umbrella, starts out on fire with the lead track “There’s a Reason,” which includes some of his most ripping guitar work since Television. In fact, this album feels almost more like a conscious attempt to reclaim some of the guitar glory of those Television recordings, with tracks like “Penetration” (Side 1, Track 2) and “Always” (Side 1, Track 3).

Of the four reissues here, this is the one I am reassessing the most, and am enjoying with fresh ears. As far as how the Dreamtime reissue sounds, I think I like my slightly warmer original copy better than this version, which is a bit brighter, especially apparent on the vocals. It is not bad; just different. Once you get used to this sonic texture, it is quite enjoyable. (Music: 8 / Sound: 7.5)


As I stated earlier, when it comes to Words From the Front, I’ve always enjoyed this June 1982 release. Unfortunately, of the four LPs included in my copy of the Souvenir box set, this is the only one that had some pressing issues by being off-center. It’s probably not that terrible a thing for some of you, but off-center pressings are one of my biggest peeves in the vinyl-verse, as it makes the sound waver in and out of tune. Hopefully, this is a one-off anomaly, as AP editor Mike Mettler reports that his Souvenir box set’s copy of the Front LP is well-centered. (Whew!)

Like Dreamtime, the Front reissue sounds a little brighter to my ears, but then the original was bright to begin with. The good news is, I can play these new editions fairly loudly, and they don’t tax my ears. (Music: 8 / Sound: 7)


Verlaine’s last LP for Warner Bros., September 1984’s Cover, was the most elusive of these four for me to find on vinyl back in the day. In fact, I think I may have had this one on CD initially, eventually finding a vinyl edition on import years later. Cover is also the one album that is probably the most challenging to appreciate in the face of Verlaine’s earlier work.

Listening to Cover all these years hence with 20/20 hindsight, it sounds relatively fresh and different. This is a two-edged sword, however, resulting in it not sounding utterly timeless, and thus possibly the one that has aged the poorest. Cover, in its embrace of production textures of the period, feels very much like a product of the mid-1980s timeframe, in which it was created replete with gated snare sounds, then-popular synthesizer textures, and even early digital sampling efforts.

Like many of Verlaine’s albums, Cover starts strongly with the opening track, “Five Miles of You.” It quickly turns extra angular, hinting at new directions on the funky-freaky “Traveling” (Side 1, Track 2), which feels sort of like a nod of approval towards Thomas Dolby’s 1982 mega-hit “She Blinded Me With Science” via The Clash’s same-year “Rock the Casbah,” with funky bass and some badass skronk guitar laid over it.


Actually, “Dissolve/Reveal” (Side 2, Track 1) pre-echoes the early sampled-sound aesthetic of Mick Jones’ post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite (whose debut LP This Is Big Audio Dynamite was issued a year later in September 1985). Verlaine’s guitar signature reminds me at times of no less than Mike Oldfield’s turn-of-the-decade work, such as what’s heard on his October 1980 album, QE2. There is a beautiful solo tucked away in here! Cover is a grower of a listen for sure, especially for those of us who were aching for Verlaine to create another Marquee Moon — but it’s definitely a keeper.

The new Cover remaster feels much more open than the original, which is a good thing. It still sounds very Eighties, but there is a greater sense of separation and detailing apparent. The recording leans bright, but that isn’t the focus. Compared to the original, the sound is close, but perhaps a little more reigned in, relatively speaking. The soundstage on some tracks on the original sound a wee bit more open than the new edition. Some sibilance appears on certain tracks like “O Foolish Heart” (Side 1, Track 3) on my copy, however. But this is all relative minutiae, ultimately. (Music: 7 / Sound: 7)


Cumulatively rating a box set like Tom Verlaine’s Souvenir From a Dream as an overarching listening experience is a difficult task, given the diversity of music on it and considering Verlaine’s 1970s legacy with Television — especially given the excellent Rhino High Fidelity series reissue of their magnificent, aforementioned February 1977 debut LP Marquee Moon, which I reviewed back on February 9, 2024, right here.

That said, we give Tom Verlaine’s Souvenir From a Dream box set an overall 7.5 for Sound, and an 8 for Music. (Individual ratings follow each respective LP review above.) Some albums are better than the others, especially the first one. Each have strengths and weaknesses as far as the sonic enjoyment factor goes. But if you want to get brand new, freshly minted, and remastered copies of Tom Verlaine’s first four solo albums in one place for just under 100 bucks (or $25 per LP), then the Souvenir From a Dream RSD box set is a pretty solid way to go.

Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.



4LP (Rhino)


(1979, Elektra)

Side One
1. The Grip Of Love
2. Souvenir From A Dream
3. Kingdom Come
4. Mr. Bingo
5. Yonki Time

Side Two
1. Flash Lightning
2. Red Leaves
3. Last Night
4. Breakin’ My Heart


(1981, Warner Records)

Side 1
1. There’s A Reason
2. Penetration
3. Always
4. The Blue Robe
5. Without A Word

Side 2
1. Mr. Blur
2. Fragile
3, A Future In Noise
4. Down On The Farm
5. Mary Marie


(1982, Warner Records)

Side 1
1. Present Arrived
2. Postcard From Waterloo
3. True Story
4. Clear It Away

Side 2
1. Words From The Front
2. Coming Apart
3. Days On The Mountain


(1984, Warner Records)

Side 1
1. Five Miles Of You
2. Travelling
3. O Foolish Heart
4. Lindi-Lu
5. Let’s Go To The Mansion

Side 2
1. Dissolve/Reveal
2. Miss Emily
3. Rotation
4. Swim


Tom L's picture

Downsizing your collection? I know you probably have enough recorded music to fill a garage to the top, but be careful! You might get rid of something you'll miss in the future. There's also the danger of being excommunicated from the Psycho Fanatic Record Collectors Association.