Richard Lloyd – The Radiant Monkey

Richard Lloyd
The Radiant Monkey

Did you know that Richard Lloyd was still making music? He has just put out an album called The Radiant Monkey. Legendary for his work in Television, Lloyd seems to have moved more decidedly in the direction of the blues that his early work hinted at. And now that he’s singing, it becomes that much more apparent.

The first cut, “Monkey,” sounds like gravelly, blues-standard, bar-band material. Many of the other tracks have the same feel: “Carousel” does, “Big Hole” really does, “Wicked Son” really, really does. Album closer “One for the Road” even has harmonica passages to solidify the R&B roots of this record.

It’s probably unfair to go into this solo record and expect it to follow on from his work of 30 years ago. But that’s the downside to being a pioneer, I guess: there will always be a contingent of fans who want more of what they liked in your early work. And so it is that the Television-sounding cuts were the ones that jumped out at me. “Glurp” has some very cool, nostalgia-inducing guitarwork, and “Amnesia” has passages that come right from Marquee Moon. “Glurp” overall sounds to me like a Graham Parker or even a Bob Welch song. Maybe some Eddie Money in there. It could be because he actually sings more one this one than he does on lots of the others. Elsewhere, the vocals are more along the lines of David Yow.

There’s one track that sort of puzzles me. “There She Goes Again” seems like it’s deriving some of its melody and rhythm from the La’s class “There She Goes,” and I can’t tell whether it’s accidental or intentional. Oh, and the other Television fans will be glad to hear Billy Ficca drumming on “Kalpa Tree.” That song seems to deal with the heavy subject of death, too, which distinguishes it from the rather light-hearted other tracks. The cover of the album, after all, is a crazy and colorful cartoon drawing. It’s sometimes hard to tell how serious this undertaking really is, because Lloyd also has a website dedicated to the Radiant Monkey philosophy and it follows the same cartoonish theme.