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Richard Thompson

  • Henry The Human Fly,
  • I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonigh
  • Hokey Pokey,
  • Pour Down Like Silver,
  • First Light,
  • Sunnyvista,
  • Shoot Out The Lights,
  • Hand Of Kindness,
  • Across A Crowded Room,
  • Daring Adventures,
  • Amnesia,
  • Rumour And Sigh,
  • Mirror Blue,
  • You? Me? Us?,
  • Industry,
  • Mock Tudor,

    Richard Thompson

  • Sandy Denny,
  • Steeleye Span,
  • Fairport Convention,

  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Richard Thompson

    i want to see the bright lights tonight mirror blue rumour and sigh shoot out the lights henry the human fly

    Henry The Human Fly( 1972 )
    Roll Over Vaughn Williams / Nobody’s Wedding / The Poor Ditching Boy / Shaky Nancy / The Angels Took My Racehorse Away / Wheely Down / The New St. George / Painted Ladies Cold Feet / Mary And Joseph / The Old Changing Way / Twisted

    It's not often the UK produces an artist of such calibre. Obviously, these days, we can look back at the career of Richard Thompson and trace it through classic albums, both solo and with Linda/Fairport. ‘Henry The Human Fly’ isn’t quite where it all started, that would be Fairport, yet this is indeed the solo debut by Richard Thompson, guitar player extraordinaire. The vocals of Richard Thompson are fairly tentative across the LP, it seems like he knows what he needs to do vocally but doesn’t have the confidence or assurance to pull it off. Still, although the sound of the LP is fairly low-key and Thompson’s own performances hardly place him in the ranks of ‘entertainer’, actor, dancer or comedian…. even at this early stage in his career, he was already an artiste. The songs are great, the songs are key. ‘Henry The Human Fly’, doesn’t quite maintain it’s quality throughout, but there are certainly choice cuts dotted around the LP. Three or four tunes which appear towards the start of the LP are actually among the finest things the man has ever written/recorded. The ‘loss’ of this album over the years, now finally re-mastered and reissued, contributed towards it’s often overlooked status in the Richard Thompson discography. The deeply strange title and artwork would have hardly helped either, Richard stood up wearing a giant fly head. Still, let’s assume for a moment you know absolutely nothing about Richard Thompson. I’ll explain very simply what he’s like, sounds like. I’ll do all of this assuming this is his only album. I’m not about to produce a biography for him, you see.

    I’ve already mentioned his slightly nervous/tentative vocals here. That’s certainly true, yet paying attention you can hear things almost falling into place and Richard almost coming across as a very emotive singer. His voice sounds like a folk singers voice, I guess. Not especially like Bob Dylan’s, yet slightly rough around the edges and sounding slightly lived in, despite his young years at the time. Musically, Richard’s guitar parts are always going beyond the minimum the songs generally require, but he never self-indulgently goes off on a needless solo. He never show-boats here, the parts simply fit the songs and they’ve been played extremely well. In addition to guitar, we’ve a solid if unspectacular rhythm section and other instrumentation such as piano, flute and accordion. Overall, the album fits more into the singer/songwriter mode than it does folk/rock and we’ve actually got a pretty varied set of tunes.

    Folk and folk/rock? One of the folkiest moments here is certainly the marvellous ‘Nobody's Wedding’, the little accordion break in the middle gives the tune a happy blast, it’s also a lyrically clever song. Elsewhere, we’ve a couple of traditional interpretations, yet the main thrust of the record is Thompson’s own compositions. ‘Roll Over Vaughn Williams’, ‘Shaky Nancy’, ‘Nobody’s Wedding and ‘Angels Took My Racehorse Away’ are all particularly excellent tunes. ‘Roll Over Vaughn Williams’ showcases the Thompson guitar very well, ‘Shaky Nancy’ is an unassuming, seemingly repetitive song, yet has an addictive allure. ‘Angels Took My Racehorse Away’ is just hugely entertaining and accomplished pop/rock. Pop music in an alternate universe, where talent such as Thompson’s is rewarded with both sales and acclaim. Yeah, ‘Henry The Human Fly’ tails off a little towards the end, although 'Painted Ladies' and 'Wheely Down' are both excellent. No, it’s not quite a masterpiece, but as a debut LP, works extremely well and deserves more attention than it gets.

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    I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight( 1974 )
    When I Get to the Border / The Calvary Cross / Withered and Died / I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight / Down Where the Drunkards Roll / We Sing Hallelujah / Has He Got a Friend for Me / The Little Beggar Girl / The End of the Rainbow / The Great Valerio

    Linda Thompson had been around the Fairport scene, singing backup on a number of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny projects. Following Richard's overlooked ( sales-wise, at least ) solo debut, he teamed up with his by then wife Linda for this slice of pleasing and moving music. A quick look at the list of instrumentation gives a clue as to how Richard coloured his music. Richard, Guitars, Vocals and Accordian. Fairport's Simon Nicol, dulcimer. Linda on vocals of course. That solid rhythm section of Donald and Donaldson, veterans of the folk-rock scene. John Kirkpatrick adding Anglo-concertina and accordion. A couple of guys playing a Krummhorn, a bent horn, a reed instrument that would make a strong buzzing sound. A couple of guys singing backing vocals, including the unmistakable deep baritone of Trevor Lucas ( member of Eclection, Fotheringay and Fairport ) for the memorable 'Down Where The Drunkards Roll'. Oh, and the CWS (Manchester) Silver Band, for good measure. Producing no hits, although that's kind of besides the point, 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight' cemented Richard's reputation amongst music critics and remains a steady seller and inluence right through to this day. It's a lasting piece of music and a few quick listens give enough basic indication as to why. The entire LP has a stronger, clearer sound than 'Henry The Human Fly', bringing out the detail of the extra instrumentation where it's been utilised. An album consisting almost entirely of highlights, the LP opens with 'When I Get To The Border'. The lyrics instantly grab your attention, the chorus is strong and the guitar section that closes the song infuriating only because it fades out too soon. Richard sounds fluid and confident, his playing throughout the LP having grown and matured.

    The album is sequenced very well. Back in the days of the vinyl LP, people gave thought to a running-order. These days, songs are thrown onto a CD seemingly with little thought, filler included to bulk out the 80 minute running time because artists 'can'. With a limit of forty minutes or so and having of course to physically get up and switch the disc over to listen to the second half, it was important to consider certain things. Thus, the serious and haunting 'Calvary Cross' follows the upbeat album opener. Stunning backing vocals, a fascinating lyric with much depth and a decent R Thompson lead vocal. Doing the proverbial switching over the disc, side two is sequenced like a little mini-album of its own. 'We Sing Halleujah' being an easily singable tune in a traditional bent, through to the thoughtful and emotive 'Has He Got A Friend For Me', the upbeat and again traditionally flavoured 'Poor Little Beggar Girl' ( excellent, brilliantly upbeat with great harmonies and vocals from both Linda and Richard ) to the closing brace of 'The End Of The Rainbow' and the classic 'The Great Valerio'. Listeners who stay through to this ending of the album are rewarded, you see. We falter at the sight / We stumble in the mire / Fools who think they see the light / Prepare to balance on the wire / But we learn to watch together, / And feed on what we see above / ‘Till our hearts turn like the seasons / And we are acrobats of love. / How we wonder, how we wonder / Watching far below / We would all be that great hero / The great Valerio . Sparse, utterly appropriate music, serious in tone married to one of the all time great Linda Thompson vocals, a singer who had been through some growing up of her own following the girlish , nervous backing vocals she'd contributed to records in the late 60s/early 70s. As a duo, Richard and Linda had arrived in every sense apart from sales. A quick look at an Island Records 'best of' reveals it includes pretty much this entire LP alongside other Richard and Linda highlights. Some things just can't be excerpted. This is 'an album', in a now old-fashioned sense of the word. It's a masterpiece without a single piece of filler - resonates emotionally beyond the surface immediately presented by the music, vocals and lyrics.

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    Readers Comments

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    One word - flawless. The title track and The Great Valerio prove Richard Thompson to be a God, maybe not *THE* God, but pretty close. Linda's perfromances are nothing short of sensational. 10/10.

    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    How right you are. This album is a joy that only gets better and better with time. I'm listening right now to Withered And Died, a song that can reduce me to tears. But while there is understated beauty and magical, overwhelming melancholy throughout the LP, it's not all dark. The title track is strangely uplifing - almost glam rock (with brass arrangements). We Sing Hallelujah, likewise, can only raise the spirits. The range of emotions this record presents - and the way it explores extreme highs and lows of feeling, along with some of the murkier territory in between - is astonishing. It's a genuinely perfect album. I can't see any way it could be improved.

    One for those lonely winter evening walks through the city for sure , but not flawless im afraid . A couple of tracks come over a bit too much like products of a folk music workshop and richards guitar playing is a bit too restrained and mannered , however lindas voice is lovely and she gives a great performance here with these desolate songs . Ive heard some of richards later albums too and hes good alright but my overriding feeling is that his contemporys nick drake and john martyn were greater talents .

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    Hokey Pokey 8 ( 1975 )
    Hokey Pokey (The Ice Cream Song) / I'll Regret It All in the Morning / Smiffy's Glass Eye / Egypt Room / Never Again / Georgie on a Spree / Old Man Inside a Young Man / Sun Never Shines on the Poor / Heart Needs a Home / Mole in a Hole

    This is the second album Richard and Linda made together and generally is considered weaker than the first. The reissue has 5 bonus tracks four of them from John Peel BBC sessions that have never been released. I'm reviewing the 'original' release. Recorded at the time of the Thompsons' conversion to Islam, richard seems somewhat chipper compared to his usual self, even getting a few double-entendre jokes into 'Hokey Pokey'. Still, perhaps the lyrics aren't quite to the standard we expect from Richard. Well, they're still quality lyrics, yet the characters don't pop out at you as evocatively as they do on either of his previous two releases. Why wasn't the title track a hit song? I'm completely bewildered why this friendly piece of folk/pop, complete with stellar Richard Thompson guitar work couldn't gain a place on the airwaves of Britan in 1975, especially considering what a poor year for music 1975 generally was. After enjoying himself with ice-cream, Richard 'regrets in all' in the morning, a masterful track of the quality we expect from the man. Another highlight? How about 'The Egypt Room', an epic in just under four minutes with suitably inventive musically egypitian introduction and refrains.

    As for Linda, well, her vocals enlighten the title track, of course. More impressively she turns in one of her finest ever vocals to turn 'Never Again' into a very special ballad, indeed. Pure folk voice of high calibre. We believe 'Hokey Pokey' isn't upto the quality of 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight'? Well, few albums are, but that doesn't mean 'Hokey Pokey' is without it's own merits. 'Georgie On A Spree' opens 'Side Two' and is another fun track similar in parts to the title tune. The closing 'Mole In A Hole' is a little quirky, a tune actually written by Mike Waterson of the famous Waterson/Carthy folk-clan. Another song that sounds like a potential hit to these ears. I must have a problem with my ears, shouldn't I be recommending Leo Sayer or something else from 1975? Is Leo Sayer even from 1975 or a few years later? Well, no matter! Linda also gives us a gem of a vocal come the arrival of 'Heart Needs A Home', a delicate musical track with a strong ballad vocal. The album lacks enough highlights as high as those found on the nearly flawless 'I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight' but is worth considering as a good addition to your Richard Thompson catalogue anyway. Perhaps not the first purchase of his you'll make, but once you're hooked, don't forget this modest little gem, will you? Thanks.

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    Pour Down Like Silver( 1975 )
    Streets Of Paradise / For Shame Of Doing Wrong / Poor Boy Is Taken Away / Night Comes In / Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair / Beat The Retreat / Hard Luck Stories / Dimming Of The Day-Dargai

    The Thompsons adopted the sufi-muslim faith and moved into a commune in London. The songs on this album had to reflect their new faith and that was the constraint under which they were allowed to continue recording music. So, a religiously inspired folk/rock album? Well, much of what is here is umistakably the sound of Richard Thompson. The album is fairly slow and serious, but otherwise yes, very much a Richard and Linda album. The lyrics aren't in your face obvious lyrics. Imagery is effectively employed and it's also not a preacher type of album. This can be enjoyed by anyone. Well, anyone who enjoys slow, melancholic music, at least. Well, 'Streets Of Paradise' is a mid-tempo yet uplifting opener. Amid guitar, bass and drums an accordian plays a little morris jig, seemingly at odds with the rest of the unadorned track, but it works very well to add flavour and meaning to the tune apart from the lyrics. The accordian continues on through the 2nd track, the Linda Thompson sung masterpiece 'For Shame Of Doing Wrong'. Richard joins in for the refrain, 'I Wish I Was A Fool For You', repeated over the over. 'Poor Boy In Taken Away' builds upon the opening two tracks and holds you in a melancholic, spellbound sway. No really, it does. This album lacks the same standouts as the first Richard and Linda album, but it's a wholly consistent effort that's more than the sum of its parts.

    The lyrics, vocals and Richard's guitar on 'Night Comes In' are hypnotically lovely, slow and studied and bringing to mind 'Sloth' by Fairport Convention, albeit in a slightly different setting. The song progresses slowly, ever so slowly. The wonderful guitar keeps you listening throughout. A brief pause for the uplifting and unsually uptempo 'Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair', based seemingly upon the 'Be My Baby' Phil Spector drum pattern. Apart from this track, the album just keeps on building upon itself. Another slow-burner that rewards repeated plays is the utterly beautiful 'Beat The Retreat' which seems to offer both hope and loneliness, a reward and a light to shine and illuminate your sadness. That's perhaps just me, i've not picked the lyrics apart. It sounds lonely but with a hint of light to me. 'Hard Luck Stories' sees Linda fail to quite bring the track alive as she might, her voice lacks the joy and swing of earlier years Linda vocals. Which just leaves 'Dimming Of The Day', another beautifully melancholic sounding, slow-burning gem that rewards repeated listenings. So, despite the odd mis-step, 'Pour Down Like Silver' is actually a rare thing for an album. It presents a concentrated, unadorned outpouring of emotions but doesn't present their new religion from on-high with a jester in tow, rather it demands to be unravelled and thought about seriously. No small matter and a fine artistic album from the pair that deserves reappraisal.

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    First Light( 1978 )
    Restless Highway / Sweet Surrender / Don't Let A Theif Steal Into Your Heart / The Choice Wife / Died For Love / Strange Affair / Layla / Pavanne / House Of Cards / First Light

    Richard had threatened to drop out of music altogether, but 'First Light' eventually appeared after a three year gap as the pairs first album for Chrysalis records. The duo retain their folk-rock feel yet with an added mainstream, soft rock sound. The production and playing are both fairly slick but a strong set of songs wins through at the end of the day. At the end of the day? Why am I using football cliches? Does anybody even know what team, if any, Richard Thompson supports? Anyway, yes. A strong set of songs. This is a forty three minute set of ten songs, many of them fairly straightforward, some containing religious themes. Yet, the apparent mainstream design does show through more strongly than any Richard and Linda album thus far. Apart from the sound of the album, also noticeable vocally as the vocals appear to have been set low in the mix, at least on my copy, 'First Light' follows the Richard and Linda Thompson formula fairly closely. Thus, Richard and Linda alternate leads and then provide backing vocals for each other. We've folk instrumentation, Richard's guitar plus a fairly anonymous sounding rhythm section. Well, 'Layla' has a weird kind of Little Feat rhythm which is good. 'Don't Let A Thief Steal Your Heart' has thumping bass lines that unfortunately threaten to drown out the other instrumentation completely. What even is the funk-rock bass line doing here? Bah.

    'Restless Highway' which opens the LP is also arguably the strongest song here. It has universal themes and sounds like it should at least have been a radio hit, sadly this wasn't to be. Richard also gets in a nifty mid-tempo solo, so that's cool. 'Sweet Surrender' is a Linda sung, classy ballad of the highest order, really soulful vocally and guitar-wise. The brief eastern styled instrumental 'The Choice Wife' nicely provides a diversion, especially sonically as there is none of the mainstream rock stylings here. 'Died For Love' is a further attempt at southern boogie rock, aka Little Feat, this time falling somewhat flat. 'Pavanne' and 'House Of Cards' are not of the standard we would expect on a Richard and Thompson record leaving the title track to round things off. Thankfully, the title track saves the second half of the album, containing a little much needed fire, particularly instrumentally when Richard gets going. All in all then, another decent LP from Richard and Linda, although not really their most essential.

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    Sunnyvista 7 ( 1979 )
    Civilisation / Borrowed Time / Saturday Rolling Around / You're Going To Need Somebody / Why Do You Turn Your Back? / Sunnyvista / Lonely Hearts / Sisters / Justice In The Streets / Traces Of My Love

    Richard & Linda surround themselves with a familiar bunch of musicians and a plethora of singers on backing vocals, including Kate and Anna McGarrigle. So, Simon Nicol pops up on acoustic and electric guitars, Dave Pegg is on bass, etc, etc. Perhaps under pressure from their record label, Richard & Linda deliver an unusually uptempo affair with high energy and much electric guitar. Well, Richard playing his guitar is always of course a joy. The album only received an average response from the critics however, leaving Richard & Linda without a label following the ( expected? ) lack of sales enjoyed by 'Sunnyvista'. We get some variety on the album in admist the rocking tunes. 'Saturday Rolling Around' is a homage to cajun music. 'Justic In The Streets' is unusually for the duo, a stab at funk. The album sounds pretty cool overall, a nice rich sound. Well, John Wood was involved ( legendary Nick Drake and Fairport engineer ) so you would expect the album to be well mixed and produced. The first two songs are as good an indication as any what this album has to offer as a whole. 'Civilisation' even has traces of the energy of punk/new wave, alongside traditional folk instrumentation. It's an excellent way to kick off the album, especially as the even more pronounced rock of 'Borrowed Time' follows it on the LP. 'Borrowed Time' takes a good 30 seconds to get going, a languid, lazy instrumental intro. It then sounds like a studied take on 'proper' AOR before a strong chorus arrives and towards the end of the tune, an excellent guitar outro. The deeply strange cajun-esque 'Saturday Rolling Around' follows before we move onto another uptempo tune. Even the anthemic and catchy 'Why Do You Turn Your Back?', sporting strong Linda vocals, manages to be mid-tempo. So, no heartbreakingly wonderful R.Thompson ballads so far, then? Well, no.

    Three ballads populate side two of the album. Following the rather eccentric and weirdly cheesy european sounds of the schizophrenic title track, 'Lonely Hearts' arrives. Linda sings this characteristically well, but it can't be said to be one of the duo's strongest ballads. 'Sisters' seems to me to be a very folk, serious composition and the 3rd and final ballad is the fairly generic 'Traces Of My Love'. So, that's 'Sunnyvista'. Some fans rate this highly but for me, there's too many tracks that just do nothing worthwhile. The best of the album ensures this isn't disposable, indeed, the first two songs and a couple of others are well upto the duo's usual high standards. The message has to be then, get this if you see it around, but there's more worthy Thompson material to get first of all. Not a bad album, you understand, just not a very remarkable one.

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    Shoot Out The Lights 9 ( 1982 )
    Don't Renege On Our Love / Walking On A Wire / Man In Need / Just The Motion / Shoot Out The Lights / Back Street Slide / Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed? / Wall Of Death

    The album cover alone is iconic, Linda represented merely by a picture of her hanging from the wall. Richard huddles in the corner of the room facing the camera, with a strangely self-satisfied smile on his face. It's quite unsettling in a way. 'Shoot Out The Lights' therefore is always referred to as the duo's breakup album, although that wasn't the initial intention. Dropped from their record label in 1979, six of these eight songs were actually written and initially recorded in 1980. Gerry Rafferty sunk some £30,000 of his own money into the project to help out the labelless duo. At odds with Richard Thompson who didn't like Gerry's working methods, the project was ultimately scrapped. At this time, Richard and Linda were together and Richard had yet to meet Nancy Covey, who would become his second wife. Enter Joe Boyd, producer of the famous Fairport albums and also of Nick Drake. He signed Richard and Linda to his own small Hannibal label and 'Shoot Out The Lights' emerged, also featuring two more recently composed tunes. By this time, Richard and Linda were in the throes of divorce. Helpfully then, Richard and Linda are joined here by some familiar names. Not only trusted producer Joe Boyd, but also Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks from the Fairport days.

    As with many Richard Thompson albums, 'Shoot Out The Lights' isn't an instant classic.Initially it appears to have a couple of decent tunes and much mid-tempo plodding. Indeed, nearly all of these songs do indeed feature a mid-tempo 'plod' of sorts from the rhythm section. This appears to be entirely deliberate however and leaves spaces for Richard and Linda to fill. Linda with her voice, Richard with his guitar. At times, Richard's guitar is at odds with Linda's voice, responding to her with stabs of driving, angry guitar. I would go as far to say that Linda's singing and Richard's playing were at their peak here, which is some statement considering all that had gone before. Both elements are so much more than folk-rock, and evoke as much soul as any of the motown greats. I'm reminded at this stage by my conscience to research 'Wall Of Death'. The 'Wall Of Death' Richard was referring to was actually a circus sideshow featuring a drum shaped wooden board wall around which stunt motorcyclists would drive and carry out tricks. Started in the UK circa the 1920's, by the 1950's, there were many 'Wall Of Death' shows around the UK. Now, this explanation makes sense to me, especially considering Richard's interest in motorcycles, that he would use this idea as a basis for the song.

    Things I like about this album. 'Walking On The Wire' and 'Just A Motion' are the kind of vocals even a Sandy Denny would have been proud of, and I can give no higher praise to Linda than that. Richard writes three or four of his finest ever songs. There's a good mix of tunes here and the second half of the album is nearly flawless. I like the artwork and even the title, as 'Shoot Out The Lights' seem to close the book opened by 'I Want To See The Bright Lights', if you understand me. So, the first half of the album has an uptempo tune, followed by a ballad, followed by an uptempo tune, etc. Kind of clumsy, but the quality of the tunes overcome this 'lack', that's even assuming you're harsh enough to call such a sequencing idea 'a lack'. 'Don't Renege On Our Love' and 'Man In Need' are essentially solo Richard Thompson tunes and both provide the uptempo moments on 'side a' if we're talking old money. The former song has a clippity rhythm ( not a cloppity one, mind ) and 'Man In Need' is funky folk-rock, if such a thing is imaginable. Linda sings 'Just A Motion' beautifully as it stretches out over six minutes, yet the real gem of the first four songs is 'Walking On A Wire'. There's huge emotional context of course and Linda's vocal really is spellbinding and Richard plays so completely, floating around the vocals and reaching upwards, pulling ever greater soulful heights from Linda.

    The title track has gloriously biting and aggressive vocals and guitar from Richard and counteracts 'Just A Motion' beautifully. 'Back Street Slide' is a rock song with folk instrumentation and a very convincing Richard vocal. I've already mentioned of course the fact that Linda was at her vocal peak during the album. Richard's vocals also showed a continuing development and increased confidence. 'Back Street Slide' is really nailed down vocally by Richard. So? Well, two more songs. 'Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed' is reportedly about Sandy Denny and packs a huge emotional punch. Linda again sings like an angel and draws out the feeling in each and every line of the lyric. The uptempo and should have been a hit 'Wall Of Death' closes the album beautifully, Richard and Linda singing together. With the history behind the album, you can draw all sorts of conclusions into songs like this and 'Did She Jump' and 'Don't Renege On Our Love'. The album therefore works on many levels. You can also enjoy something like 'Wall Of Death' just as a catchy little tune. 'Shoot Out The Lights' is an album that sold fairly well at the time, enough to encourage Richard's career in the USA, at least. Linda, suffering from periods of dysphonia, released a solo album in 1985 but this disease prevented her from singing and performing for lengthy periods of time. Still, remember the duo this way and pick up their other five albums whilst you're at it. You've a wealth of musical rewards to look forward to.

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    Readers Comments

    This is really just a message for you Adrian. I've been visiting and reading your site almost daily for about a year and I have to say that this is one of your best reviews -insiteful, articulate, and heartfelt. I'm not even really a fan of Linda and Richard and your review makes me want to hear this record. Thanks for all your diverse listening tastes and hard work writing.

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    Hand Of Kindness 8 ( 1983 )
    Tear Stained Letter / How I Wanted To / Both Ends Burning / A Poisoned Heart And A Twisted Memory / Where The Wind Don't Whine / The Wrong Heartbeat / Hand Of Kindness / Devonside / Two Left Feet

    Dave Mattacks on drums. Simon Nicol playing guitar. Richard Thompson playing guitar. Simon Pegg on bass. What's this, a Fairport reunion? Well, not quite, rather Richard surrounding himself with familiar names, including legendary producer Joe Boyd, post divorce and split from Linda. The music here is largely surprisingly uptempo, Richard clearly not wanting to dwell too much on then recent events. A few of the lyrics could possibly have things read into them, there is a temptation to do that, but on the whole, this is a happy sounding LP. Well, happy for Richard Thompson. I'm not saying it sounds like Wham or whoever else was having hits whilst Richard wasn't, back in 1983. The very fact this LP came out a mere year after 'Shoot Out The Lights' could even be said to re-enforce the idea that Richard wanted to step out back into the light. Sax and Accordian kick off the album in fine style with the rocker 'Tear Stained Letter'. Yet another tune that should have been a hit, 'Tear Stained Letter' is one of the finer Thompson album openers, which is saying something, all things considered. Following this with the tear-jerker 'How I Wanted To Be', something hard to resist imagining being sung by Linda, sees Richard not exactly trying to step too far out of the formula he had established for his albums. Still, I love 'Where The Wind Don't Whine', clever lyrics and the insistent sax/accordian rhythm combines well and the guitar flourishes and impresses.

    'Devonside' is a top quality composition. Haunting and especially delicate guitar opens the tune as Richard appears to bare his soul throughout. The very silly cajun jog of 'Two Left Feet' then ensures we raise a glass and a smile, love these types of 'silly' Richard Thompson tunes. Proves he doesn't always have to be serious and that he does indeed have a sense of humour. The title track is supremely well performed, as the entire album is. It even sounds a little funky. Funk folk rock? Well, indeed. A further highlight to mention is 'Both Ends Burning'. I do like Richard's horse songs and this is a decent one. Again, the accordian shines. So, all sing along I took her to the racetrack one fine day and couldn't believe their eyes. Love it. All in all, another excellent Richard Thompson LP and it gets almost boring to say that. I have a nagging suspicion though that 'Hand Of Kindness' is less than the sum of its parts. It certainly doesn't have the emotional resonance of the very finest Richard Thompson albums, but perhaps after 'Shoot Out The Lights', that's perfectly understandable. Ah, sorry. Still playing 'Both Ends Burning'. Love the sax work in the instrumental break. Ah, ah. ah!

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Channing Whitby
    Err, Simon Pegg on bass ?! Isn't he a bit of an actor actually ??!! I think Dave Pegg might be a trifle miffed at the idea.....

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    Across A Crowded Room( 1985 )
    When The Spell Is Broken / You Don't Say / I Ain't Going To Drag My Feet No More / Shine On Love / Ghosts In The Wind / Fire In The Engine Room / Walking Through A Wasted Land / Little Blue Number / She Twists The Knife Again / Love In A Faithless Country

    'Across a Crowded Room' saw Richard Thompson return to a major label. This no doubt affected his and producer Joe Boyd's decision making. Largely full of up-tempo rockers, some straightforward, some contemplative - 'Across A Crowded Room' is a tilt towards commercial acceptance. Having said that, the production is very good, spaces between the instruments allowing everyone to be heard. The usual Fairport crowd back Thompson here although there really are only a few ties to traditional folk British folk music. An important note though before we begin. There are a couple of different CD editions of this album. If yours offers a slightly different tracklisting to mine, that's why. Anyway, lots of Richard Thompson electric guitar on the album, happily. One atypical number musically is the closer, the fairly stunning 'Love In A Faithless Country'. Drums and wandering electric guitar playing these biting, dischordant parts. It's a mid-tempo song about love gone awry and packs a lot of punch. The guitar is truly spellbinding. At the other end of the album we have the disquiet of 'When The Spell Is Broken', a brooding song that repeatedly leaves more of an impression than you give it credit for. It's typical Richard Thompson, it takes a few listens then never leaves you alone.

    A couple of speedy tunes follow the album opener. Both hints at '80s production' but actually manage to incorporate that era of plasticity very well. 'You Don't Say' for example had a procession of imagery amidst a very simple kind of guitar shuffle. The bass plunks away, the drums are unobrtrusive. Plenty of spaces between the instruments and although the result doesn't exactly sound organic, when Thompson's solo comes in to break up the song, you find yourself smiling anyway. 'I Ain't Gonna Drag My Feet No More' is an acordian assisted foot-stomper, 'Ghosts In The Wind' a change of pace, a spooked kind of night-time city blues. It reminds me a lot of John Martyn, another former Island artist Joe Boyd hand a hand in during the Seventies. What else? Well, nothing here is weak, equally nothing except bar possibly the opener or closer could be hailed a Thompson classic. What 'Across A Crowded Roon' actually does though is present Thompson in a largely happy, upbeat, melodic light. It's a very easy album to enjoy and could be a great possible starting point for those curious about the man.

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    Daring Adventures 8 ( 1986 )
    A Bone through Her Nose / Valerie / Missie How You Let Me Down / Dead Man's Handle / Long Dead Love / Lovers' Lane / Nearly in Love / Jennie / Baby Talk / Cash Down Never Never / How Will I Ever Be Simple Again / Al Bowlly's in Heaven

    Richard's second album for major label Polydor saw him dropped again after the release of 'Daring Adventures'. Mitchell Froom was the producer here, an association that would last a decade, or so. The sound is freshened up, yet retains folk instrumentation amongst some radio-friendly melodies. Richard being Richard, perhaps the non-obvious nature of the lyrics held him back? We do see a little 'love' medley of sorts in the middle of the album, following the powerful drama of 'Dead Man's Handle'. 'Daring Adventures' actually isn't heralded as one of the great mans major works, yet it remains impossible to resist. If Richard Thompson ever did make a genuinely below-par album, i've yet to hear it. My copy of 'Daring Adventures' by the way is a superb sounding original piece of vinyl, transferred by myself to MP3. Such a transfer can affect the sound quality, but this particular album sounds great like this. The album has what was for 1986 a pretty modern sound, thanks to Froom's production. The arrangements aren't overly busy, allowing Thompson's guitar playing to take centre stage where necessary. We've no plastic eighties drums or synths, so all is well with the sound of the album. 'Al Bowlly's in Heaven' is many fans pick of the bunch here, by the way, so let's focus on that. We've got jazzy music complete with double bass, at a considered pace. Stunning, story-telling lyrics and crystal clear, powerful vocals. A great bluesy guitar solo right through the middle where it seems the strings of his guitar are almost pressed right up next to your ear, lovely.

    'Dead Man's Hurdle' is a song I didn't see mentioned once in the half dozen reviews of this album i've just read for research on the web. I don't mind, i'm still going to say it's my favourite song on the album and one to download and sample. Richard's guitar is very present here, in a Sixties jangle kind of way. 'Long Dead Love' sees an impassioned and very loud Richard vocal, beginning that 'love' medley of sorts. 'A Bone Through Her Nose' isn't quite a good beginning, struggling lyrically to enrapture as the best Thompson songs are won't to do. A lull also appears when we reach 'Baby Talk' and 'Cash Down Never Never', two utterly forgettable songs. Still, Richard's love of Rock n Roll comes out in the storming 'Valerie' and 'Jennie' is also a winner, a lovely, emotional Richard Thompson vocal the star of the tune. There is though a hint of the eighties in the bass sounds, on this track in particular. It reminds me, rather unpleasantly, of Tears For Fears. The quality of the song itself happens to be enough though to overcome this. Hurrah.

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    Amnesia 7 ( 1988 )
    Turning Of The Tide / Gypsy Love Songs / Reckless Kind / Jerusalem On The Jukebox / I Still Dream / Don't Tempt Me / Yankee, Go Home / Can't Win / Waltzing's For Dreamers / Pharoah

    Mitchell Froom

    Producer Mitchell Froom is a keyboard player and enjoys working on the arrangements for his clients songs. There has long been a notion that Froom, known for his work with Elvis Costello, Crowded House and Suzanne Vega, has 'a sound'. Froom himself will strenuously deny this and listening to the difference between Crowded House and his innovative work for Suzanne Vega, for instance, lends credence to his claims. More relevant to this page however is of course his work with Richard Thompson. Froom's productions work best I feel when he allows the artist the time and space to express themselves in a natural, unadorned setting. Froom though is noted for his arrangements and often would work up some disctinctive sounds for his Thompson production work. I feel it took a good two or three records for the Froom/Thompson collaboration to really start to work. The mid to late eighties records, great songs apart, don't sound rich, natural or initially very inviting.

    The 80s was a tricky time for a lot of artists as analogue switched to primitive digital methods. Froom, to his credit, always tended to favour analogue keyboards over digital synths. Certain music fans have criticized Froom productions though, for example, for their lack of a decent bass sound. Critiscm for the apparant 'distinctive' sound Froom brings to the equation with an artist like Richard Thompson, that it 'interferes' with the artists own methods. Yes, he is called a producer with a 'signature' sound, but I think that's to confuse sound with atmosphere and method. Froom will tend to push up front the lead vocal, have a tendancy to use boxes of tricks to get unusual sounds and certainly seems consistent with his musical tastes, having primarily worked with singer/songwriters.

    So, as if to prove this wave of fan protest against Froom, here are a few quotes from rateyourmusic.com

    'Daring Adventures'
    Froom's production frequently overwhelms him ( RT ).

    The production is slick but the songs are great

    'Rumour And Sigh'
    The production on Rumor & Sigh borders on heavy-handed. On several cuts, producer Mitchell Froom tries to cast Thompson as a big-time rocker, where a more stripped down sound would benefit such relationship-themed songs as "You Dream Too Much" and the somewhat comical "Backlash Love Affair," where the singer is in over his head with a heavy-metal dominatrix.

    'Rumour And Sigh'
    I've never been a big fan of Mitchell Froom's production style. It seems like he's never letting the artists just be who they are. The albums he did for Suzanne Vega do not sound like Suzanne Vega albums, this one doesn't sound like a Richard Thompson record either.

    'Rumour And Sigh'
    Mitchell Froom's slick production strips away the layer of mystery which makes Thompson's best work so bewitching.

    'Mirror Blue'
    It's clear right away what's wrong with this album. Let's do an electronic drum beat instead of live drums, put some awful synth chords over some fine Richard Thompson soloing, add some pointless backing vocals, add the occasional accordion to make it sound like folk music. Yes indeed, it's Mitchell Froom producing.

    I won't make any comments in defense of Froom's work with Thompson yet but certainly will be making observations and feelings known during the course of the relevant reviews. 'Enjoy'.


    Amnesia was released on Capitol Records, Froom was retained as producer and a bigger budget was spent on marketing and promotion. Musicians on the album include a blend of British folk-rock players alongside well known American session muscians. Musically, bar one or two expected Thompson ballads, he sounds unsually happy. This manifests itself either via jaunty, pop choruses for 'Turning Of The Tide' and 'Yankee Go Home' or fiery, exhilarating guitar solos for the rockier tunes. Overall, 'Amnesia' is one of the least 'folk' LPs Thompson made, Froom clearly making a difference in the producers chair. I can hear echo coming off Thompson's solos in particular but this enhances the sound, as if it were bouncing off walls. Lyrically 'Yankee Go Home' and 'Jerusalem On The Jukebox' showcase Thompson's political side, overall Thompson's lyrical eye is still sharp and literate.

    'Turning Of The Tide' is fascinating and musically provides a wonderful hook. 'Gypsy Love Songs' dives straight in with a hard rock sound, although it doesn't seem entirely well assembled. Let me explain. Thompson has the chops as a player, less so vocally, for this type of song. The musicians sound as if they are enjoying themselves and musically, all the right ingredients are there. You wish perhaps that the rhythm section would have their shackles removed however and that like Thompson, they would be allowed to improvise their parts and free-flow along with Thompson. It is also an issue with several of the other songs on the album. Also, songs in many cases don't quite seem musically complete. Whether this was Thompson not quite being ready with the material or an area Froom could have helped with, i'm not entirely sure.

    Unlike most Richard Thompson albums, I struggle to find the out and out classics peppering 'Amnesia'. The closest the album comes to classic Thompson is with the opening 'Turning Of The Tide'. Well, 'Gypsy Love Songs' also comes close, despite the heavy handed drums and seemingly absent bass. The guitar solo that sails through the middle makes the song, a stunning, exciting solo. The next set of highlights arrives with the closing duo of songs, an act of deception. Best tracks first and last and you tend to overlook the weakness of the writing in the middle? Well, it can happen that way, believe me. So, 'Waltzing's For Dreamers' is a soft Thompson vocal over gentle acoustic guitar. It's a lovely, sad kind of ballad. 'Pharoah' is a mysterious kind of song, had a definite folk feel and seemingly endless stretches of mystery and intrigue and Thompson weaves a spell with his story-telling lyrics. It's a song I like a lot and thankfully ends the LP on a definite highpoint. <

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    Rory roryubrennan@yahoo.co.uk
    I think that there are three "out-and-out" Thompson classics on this album-Turning of the Tide, Waltzing's for Dreamers, and I Still Dream.

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    Rumour And Sigh 9 ( 19991 )
    Read About Love / Feels So Good / I Misunderstood / Behind Grey Walls / You Dream Too Much / Why Must I Plead / 1952 Vincent Black Lightning / Backlash Love Affair / Mystery Wind / Jimmy Shand / Keep Your Distance / Mother Knows Best / God Loves A Drunk / Psycho Street

    From the off as 'Read About Love' rushes out of your speakers and then leads into the equally welcoming 'Feels So Good', it's plain to see this is a quality Richard Thompson album. The production and sounds are warm and affectionate and the album overall emcompases almost every facet of Thompson's writing without being like a patchwork quilt. It's one of those albums where you keep waiting for a bad tune to appear. You wait and wait and wait. You listen to the album again and again and muse over the odd album closer 'Psycho Street', but even that seems to fit somehow. You know, as well as the usual Richard Thompson wry observations, rock songs, folk rock songs, we also get Thompson pop/rock songs. They swing, the rhythm section are supremely melodic through a track such as the catchy 'You Dream Too Much'. 'I Misunderstood' is contemplative in tone and 'Vincent Black Lightening' an acoustic, finger picking folk masterclass that deserves a paragraph all of its own. For fans of Thompson's eighties work, 'Why Must I Plead' is sheer quality although doesn't spring out at you like the majority of the tunes that open up this actually quite accessible for all Thompson LP. Accessible yet without losing the magic touch Thompson posesses.

    Said Red Molly to James, that's a fine motor bike. A girl could feel special on any such like. Said James to Red Molly, well my hat's off to you It's a Vincent Black Lightening, 1952. I've known and loved this song for some seventeen years at the time of writing. It's just stunning and still manages to delight me, send chills of joy all through me whilst also telling a wonderful tale, Richard at his finest lyrically. The acoustic finger picking is at once delicate and strong and comes across as both impressively complex yet also instantly memorable and striking. This is certainly no Dylanesque strum. Towards the end of the song, James gives the red headed Molly his keys after troubles with the law ultimately leading to his demise. He reached for her hand and slipped her the keys. He said I don't have any further use for these. I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome. Swooping down from heaven to carry me home. And he gave her one last kiss and died. And he gave her his Vincent..... to ride. Arriving as it does right in the middle of the album, the stunning 'Vincent Black Lightning' does have the issue that it prevents the songs arriving immediately after it to shine as they otherwise might have done.

    'Mystery Wind' and the musically tough 'Backlash Love Affair' tend to slip past me on occasion. The album gets its sense of humour back with the accordion based 'Don't Sit On My Jimnmy Shands' which also sports very effective fiddle playing. A couple of strong songs then 'God Loves A Drunk' manages to join 'Vincent Black Lightening' in being one of not just Richard Thompson's finest songs but among the finest songs ever written. That's how highly I rate these two tunes and these two tunes, above all else, ensure 'Rumour And Sigh' can ultimately be held alongside Richard Thompson classic LPs such as 'Shoot Out The Lights'. Sung by Norma Waterson 'God Loves A Drunk' is fabulous, Richard's original version as present here is equally as devastating and thought provoking as heartbreak certainly ensues. There's a debate amongst Thompson fans about the album closer however, 'Psycho Street'. You could indeed have ended the album with 'God Loves A Drunk', but personally, I think you need something fun and mischeivous to bring the emotions back to an even keel. It's a song in two parts, beginning with short fast shuffles and jazzy bass runs. After this weird intro, we reach Thompson's twisted version of a swing number before 'Psycho Street' morphs several times more, back to spoken word, through to vocals and stand-up bass, back to spoken word. A funny little tune and if you don't take it seriously and all po-faced, you get the humour and the album finishes pretty well then.

    Highlights? 'Mother Knows Best', 'I Misunderstood', 'Vincent Black Lightening', 'Feel So Good' and 'God Loves A Drunk'. Great guitar 'work' throughout 'Mother Knows Best' incidentally.

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    Readers Comments

    Easily the best of the froom produced thompson albums this has 7 or 8 brilliant songs contained sometimes constrained by the rather obvious production. Brilliant lyrics adorn "vincent black lightning" "feel so good" and his tribute to his scots roots "georgemy shands" . Im surprised no mention was made of "keep your distance" a beautiful song of complex emotions so typical of richard. "mock tudor" remains my favourite of his later period albums though . 7.5/10

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    Mirror Blue( 1994 )
    For the Sake of Mary / I Can't Wake up to Save My Life / Mgb-GT / The Way That It Shows / Easy There (Steady Now) / King of Bohemia / Shane and Dixie / Mingus Eyes / I Ride in Your Slipstream / Beeswing / Fast Food / Mascara Tears / Taking My Business Elsewhere

    The eagle eared among you will notice the rhythm section, particularly the drums, sound slightly strange. I like this distinctive sound, a lot of work obviously went into it. Critics didn't always agree and 'Mirror Blue' didn't receive the usual across the board praise many Thompson albums would garner. Thompson: "I thought it was a sort of deconstruction of the rock rhythm section... It was a radical record – and a brave record – it was off the back of the records Mitchell had done with Suzanne Vega and Los Lobos and the couple of records [engineer] Tchad Blake had done with Tom Waits. All of which I thought were terrific records and they all had a kind of character to them – a sound that was really trying to strip away some clichés, like why have a snare drum, why the backbeat? And just looking at the song and seeing what does the song need, what’s going to work?". Of course, you could think Thompson had fallen under Mitchell Froom's aparently 'evil' spell, yet for my money, 'Mirror Blue' managed to present a new way of recording folk/rock songs. It doesn't have to be anemic, you can have rich and powerful sounding music without having to resort to cliches, without starting to sound like a crap version of the Rolling Stones. So many of these songs have great distinctive introductions, Thompson himself was clearly on a roll writing-wise, several concert favourites pop up on 'Mirror Blue', not least the gorgeous acoustic folk of 'Beeswing'.

    Songs, songs, songs. 'Mirror Blue' is nearly flawless in having virtually all good songs. Following up some of the 'catchier' numbers from the last LP is 'I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life', a massive number one the world over in an alternate dimension or timeline. I mean, what a fantastic start to the LP. Four very different songs, culminating in the wonderful freakout at the end of 'The Way That It Shows', arguably the finest R Thompson freakout since 'Sloth' and that's saying something. 'King Of Bohemia' follows and is a gorgeous, drunken in the bottom of the well Thompson folk ballad. All topped up nicely with the closing and very spooky 'Taking My Business Elsewhere'. Thompson still searching for new things to do and still managing to sound great at the same time. One of the reasons I like the Mitchell Froom produced Thompson LPs is that I believe he was instrumental in Thompson thinking about music in different ways.

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    Readers Comments

    Richard House Barnsley
    On my itunes every song gets five stars and i can't say that about any other record I've ever listened to. Mascara Tears is simply the best song I've ever lsitened to in the folk rock genre. Excellent lyrics, brilliant chord changes and a spine tingling solo. Not far behind is the amazing ballad, Beeswing wich shouldn't make me cry at fifty years old, but does. I love the production. My twelve year old daughter thinks the drumming on For the Sake of Mary is cool and after a slight uneasiness on first hearing I think the drumming throughout enhances the record. Other highlights, Shane and Dixie and I can't wake up to save my life. Why on Earth doesn't Richard promote his records properly. A mass audience should be exposed to this sort of music.

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    You? Me? Us?( 1996 )
    Razor Dance / She Steers By Lightning / Dark Hand Over My Heart / Hide It Away / Put It There Pal / Business On You / No's Not A Word / Am I Wasting My Love On You / Bank Vault In Heaven / The Ghost Of You Walks / Baby Don't Know What To Do With Herself / She Cut Off Her Long Silken Hair / Hide It Away / Burns Supper / Train Don't Leave / Cold Kisses / Sam Jones / Razor Dance / Woods Of Darney

    This didn't need to be a double CD album, containing as it does some seventy-three minutes of music. The reason for the split was to place the electric songs on one disc, the acoustic on another. Like nearly all double albums, you can argue 'You? Me? Us?' would have been better as a single rather than double. It perhaps would also have been better mixing the acoustic and electric songs up a little bit for such a cut-down single CD album. Still, that's all by-the-by. A double-cd album it is with Thompson again joining up with Mitchell Froom and his usual reliable friends - Simon Nicol, etc - to flesh out the band. Oh, you'll notice that 'Razor Dance' is here twice. The electric version is right in the style of then recent Thompson albums and makes for a satisfyingly 'upbeat' rocking album opening. The acoustic version, well. It's not a song that obviously lends itself to an acoustic arrangement, but there's something dark and far more sinister in those descending guitar lines on the acoustic version. Me, I like both. There perhaps wasn't any need as such for both, but it does provide an interesting contrast. Besides, I for one can't pick between them.

    Anyway, following up the superb 'Mirror Blue' and 'Rumour And Sigh' was never going to be easy for Richard, and 'You? Me? Us?' manages to be bigger but not necessarily better. It's no less consistent but lacks any very high watermarks - a 'Vincent Black Lightning' or 'Beeswing' to become an alltime Thompson standard. Oh, don't get me wrong, there are still moments. The guitar tone during 'She Steers By Lightning' - there's a hint of Roger McGuinn about it. The guitar-solo that closes the stormy six minute 'Put It There Pal' is a stunner of the highest Thompson quality and the song is arguably the highlight of 'You? Me? Us?', harking back to the title track of 'Shoot Out The Lights'. It's always good when Richard needs to get something off his chest. Of the acoustic numbers, 'Woods Of Darney' is a bit of a stunner, Richard's playing is precise and arresting as always and his vocal very emotive - one to focus your attention on. Overall, 'You? Me? Us?' can't help being a demanding listen, running to nearly two hours. Yes, in truth, there is simply too much here. Having said that, the quality throughout is remarkably high and Thompson fans will find much to enjoy here, of course.

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    Industry 8 ( 1997 )
    Chorale / Sweetheart on the Barricade / Children of the Dark / Big Chimney / Kitty "Tommy, Quick! Get Up. I Can Hear Clogs Goin' Up the Street." Tom / Drifting Through the Days / Lotteryland / Pitfalls / Saboteur / New Rhythms / Last Shift

    An album created equally with Danny Thompson, no relation. Danny is a great British bass and double bass player and one glance at the albums he's worked on, quite frankly, is astonishing. Check this out for starters.

    Davy Graham - Folk Blues & Beyond, The Incredible String Band - The 5000 Spirits, Pentangle - Sweet Child, Cliff Richard - Congratulations, Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left, Bert Jansch - Birthday Blues, Pentangle - Basket Of Light, Nick Drake - Bryter Layter, John Martyn - Bless The Weather, Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story, Sandy Denny - Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, John Martyn - Solid Air, T Rex - Light Of Love, T Rex - Zinc Alloy & The Hidden Riders, Kate Bush - The Dreaming, David Sylvian - Brilliant Trees, Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love, Talk Talk - Colour Of Spring, Billy Bragg - Workers Playtime, Richard Thompson - Amnesia, Toumani Diabate - Djelika, Kate Rusby - Little Lights, Paul Weller - Studio 150

    Industry was inspired by events in an English town called Grimethorpe and the closure of the mines and colliery that had been the center of the lives of the people of Grimethorpe for generations. For an extra dose of authenticity, Albert and Harold Thompson, Danny's uncles (and former factory workers themselves) add a variety of brass parts to the equation. Danny himself writes the five instrumentals here whilst Richard lays down some fine lyrics for his own songs really managing to evoke the subject matter at hand.

    'Big Iron, Big Iron, Big Iron' sings Richard throughout 'Big Chimney', a song full of steam, smoke and clanking metal. A fantastic trumpet weaves in and out of the tune as Thompson seems to hit his guitar in a fit of steel and soot. The 2nd Thompson classic here is undeniably 'Sweetheart On The Barricades', a story-telling Thompson ballad where Richard sings emotively over a rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Dave Mattacks (ex-fairport) gently pushing the song forwards. A fiddle solo appears a little later during the tune and everything comes together basically to create a moment of utter class. Of course, this far into Richard's career, he's bound to end up repeating himself and neither 'Big Chimney' nor 'Sweetheart On The Barricades' over anything new, yet both are classics anyway for the sheer craft on display.

    Of the Danny Thompson instrumentals, several occupy the same melodic place - an the overall album theme, if you will. 'Kitty "Tommy, Quick! Get Up. I Can Hear Clogs Goin' Up the Street." Tom' breaks from this to offer up a great piece of genuine jazz music, the highlight of the Danny Thompson penned tunes, undoubtedly. Working with Danny like this, Richard managed to break free of the Mitchell Froom reign and offer up something a little unique, often difficult to do for an artist that's been around as long as he has. There's no new adventures or stylistic boundaries being broken for Richard, yet 'Industry' manages to be a unique addition to the great mans catalogue all the same.

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    Mock Tudor( 1999 )
    Cooksferry Queen / Sibella / Bathsheba Smiles / Two-Faced Love / Hard on Me / Crawl Back (Under My Stone) / Uninhabited Man / Dry My Tears and Move On / Walking the Long Miles Home / Sights and Sounds of London Town / That's All, Amen, Close the Door / Hope You Like the New Me

    Producer/engineers Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf replace Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake for the follow-up to 'You Me Us?' and 'Industry'. 'Mock Tudor' has been described as a series of sketches about London - perhaps the now LA residing Thompson has been pining for home? Thompson provides guitars, vocals, mandolin, dulcimer, hurdy gurdy and harmonium. He's joined by Dave Mattacks on drums and Danny Thompson, among others. The album opens with the lively 'Cooksferry Queen' and some have speculated whether Cooksferry is an imaginary part of London but the only places I can find called 'Cooksferry' are pubs and inns. Pubs and inns? Sounds like Richard Thompson, doesn't it? Anyway, the song has a roaring pace and builds instrumentally as it goes along until it sounds like twenty musicians are in the room, a full-bloodied rocker all told. A clear sound to the album by the way, excellent seperation of the instrumentation and Thompson is not just in good shape vocally, but among the best shape he's ever been. That's not bad when he's been singing since the late sixties, is it?

    'Two-Faced Love' is another rocker and whilst neither 'Sibella' nor the intriguing 'Bathsheba Smiles' have exactly been slow ballads, it's the likes of 'Two-Faced Love' that allow Thompson to shine instrumentally. 'Hard On Me' also falls into this camp and also showcases the first truly classic Thompson guitar solo of the LP. We want a ballad though, don't we? Don't we? Well, I know some Thompson fans prefer him to be upbeat and lively, at least musically. Well, hard-hitting is probably a better term than upbeat, to be honest. Do we have a quality ballad then? Why yes, we do! 'Dry My Tears And Move On' is a Thompson wonder, right upto the quality of those excellent ballads he wrote during the 'Richard And Linda Thompson' years. It's a song, along with 'Cooksferry Queen' that i'd place happily on any personal best of 'Thompson'. 'Sights And Sounds Of London Town' is a treat for those who love Thompson's acoustic playing, whilst the album is rounded off with the darker 'That's All, Amen' and 'Hope You Like The New Me'.

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    this page last updated 10/08/15

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