Thompson, Richard and Linda


Band members               Related acts

- Linda Thompson -- vocals (1973-82)

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, guitar (1973-82)
 

 

- The Bunch (Richard and Linda Thompson)
- Fairport Convention (Richard Thompson
- Paul and Linda (Linda Thompson)

- Linda Thompson (solo efforts
- Richard Thompson (solo efforts)
 

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: folk-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight

Company: Carthage

Catalog: CGP-4407

Country/State: UK

Year: 1974

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: 1983 reissue

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5252

Price: $8.00

 

Richard Thompson, Richard Thompson, Richard Thompson ... For years I was convinced he was destined for international stardom. Blessed with one of those instantly recognizable voices, Thompson was also a gifted writer and an amazing guitarist. In spite of years of critical acclaim (from both English and American writers), it never happened ... 

One of the founding members and creative mainstays of the original Fairport Convention, Thompson left the band in 1971. The multi-talented Thompson spent the next year sharpening his chops with a series of studio sessions for the likes of Sandy Denny and John Martyn.  Late in the year he signed a recording contract with Reprise, releasing his solo debut "Richard Thompson: Starring as Henry the Human Fly". Prominently supported by backup singer Linda Peters (soon to become Mrs. Linda Thompson), the album featured a professional if somewhat pedestrian collection of folk-rock efforts. Unfortunately, precious little of Thompson's songwriting or guitar skills were on display. In spite of favorable reviews, the album failed to attract much of an audience leading Reprise to quickly drop him from it's recording roster.


First off, I'll be upfront and tell you this is one of my all time favorite albums ... I normally don't hype albums, but here's an exception. Signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records, 1974's "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight" found Thompson and new wife Linda officially collaborating as a duo. With Richard responsible for all ten tracks, musically the set contained some of his all time classic songs. Lyrically, material such as 'The Cavalry Cross', ;Withered and Died' and 'Down Where the Drunkards Roll' was typically dark and depressing (hard to imagine Richard was only 25), though roughly half of the set was wrapped in memorable up tempo melodies. The real surprise here was Linda. Blessed with a wonderful voice that was easily a match for the late Sandy Denny, she effortless plowed her way through Richard's material. Equally at home with mournful ballads (;Has He Got a Friend For Me;), or injecting a dark sense of humor into her performances (;The Little Beggar Girl;), Linda's crystal clear voice provided a perfect balance to Richard's deep and somber delivery. Personal favorites, Richard's blistering guitar on ;When I Get to the Border; and Linda's wicked delivery on the title track. Sadly, the album didn't see an American release until the mid-1980s. 

"I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) When I Get To the Border   (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) The Cavalry Cross   (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) Withered and Died   (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight   (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) Down Where the Drunkards Roll   (Richard Thompson) - 

(side 2)

1.) We Sing Hallelujah   (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) Has He Got a Friend For Me   (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) The Little Beggar Girl   (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) The End of the Rainbow   (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) The Great Valerio   (Richard Thompson) - 

 



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Hokey Pokey

Company: Carthage

Catalog: CGP-4408

Country/State: UK

Year: 1974

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: original UK pressing; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5253

Price: $20.00

 

1974 saw Richard and Linda Thompson and former Fairport Convention buddy  Simon Nichol tour as Hokey Pokey, followed by more dates billed as Sour Grapes. Coincidently, the Thompsons elected to title their second studio album "Hokey Pokey".  Co-produced by John Wood and Richard, musically the set was a little more diverse than the debut. Tracks such as 'I'll Regret It All In the Morning', 'Old Man Inside a Young Man' and 'The Sun Never Shines On the Poor' offered up Richard's trademark tales of woe and despair.  Elsewhere, 'Smiffy's Glass Eye' and the title track recalled Fairport's folk-rock catalog, while 'Never Again' and 'A Heart Needs a Home' served as showcases for Linda's haunting voice. Weirdest song - the atypically upbeat 'Mole In a Hole'. Admittedly not as immediately impressive as the debut, the collection rewarded you with repeated playings. Also like the debut, the set didn't see an American release until the mid-1980s.

"Hokey Pokey" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hokey Pokey   (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) I'll Regret It All In the Morning   (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) Smiffy's Glass Eye   (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) The Egypt Room   (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) Never Again (Richard Thompson) - 

(side 1)

1.) George On a Spree   (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) Old Man Inside a Young Man   (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) The Sun Never Shines On the Poor   (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) A Heart Needs a Home   (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) Mole In a Hole   (Richard Thompson) - 

 


Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Pour Down Like Silver

Company: Carthage

Catalog: CGP-4404

Year: 1975

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: one original for sale and one 1983 reissue

Available: 2

Price: $8.00

 

Having converted to the Sufi brand of Islam (hence the mufti headgear displayed on the album cover), 1975's "Pour Down Like Silver" found the couple hunkering down to administer a dose of reality on the listening public. Curiously, it was also their first American release. Always known as earnest performers, material such as "Streets of Paradise", "For Shame of Doing Wrong" and "The Poor Boy Is Taken Away" did little to alter that reputation. Propelled by Linda's clear and piercing voice ("Dimming of the Day") and Richard's churning guitar ("Night Comes In") the collection stands as the couple's most challenging, and in some respects, starkest effort. That's not to say the set suffered from overt religious overtone. Credit the Thompsons for keeping their religious sentiments to themselves. Besides, there were a couple of exceptions to the general downbeat mood. Propelled by Thompson's unique guitar, "For Shame of Doing Wrong" and "Hard Luck Stories" were nice rockers, while "Jet Plane In a Rocking Chair" offered up a slice of quirky humor. Although difficult listening, if you give it a chance the set slowly captivates you with it's earnest charm ...

"Pour Down Like Silver" track listing:
1.) Streets of Paradise (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) For Shame of Doing Wrong (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) The Poor Boy Is Taken Away (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) Night Comes In (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) Jet Plane In a Rocking Chair (Richard Thompson) - 
6.) Beat the Retreat (Richard Thompson) - 
7.) Hard Luck Stories (Richard Thompson) - 
8.) Dimming of the Day (Richard Thompson) - 
9.) Dargai (instrumental) (Richard Thompson) - 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Richard Thompson Live! (More or Less)

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS-9421

Year: 1977

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK import

Available: SOLD

Price: $20.00

 

In spite of the title, this was a Richard and Linda Thompson release.  With the Thompsons having dropped out of the music scene (just as they were beginning to attract increasing media attention), Island released a compilation set. For the English market, they issued "Guitar, Vocal", while American fans saw the release of "Live! (More or Less)". The latter was a double album set, pulling together the pair's previously unavailable1974 debut "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight", with the second album consisting of a mix of Fairport Convention, Richard solo and Richard and Linda outtakes and live tracks. Highlights included Linda's cover of the Chips Moman and Dan Penn's classic "The Dark End of the Street" and Richard's extended workout on "Calvary Cross". (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)

"Live! (More or Less)" track listing:
1.) When I Get To the Border (Richard Thompson) - 
2.) The Cavalry Cross (Richard Thompson) - 
3.) Withered and Died (Richard Thompson) - 
4.) I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight (Richard Thompson) - 
5.) Down Where the Drunkards Roll (Richard Thompson) - 
6.) We Sing Hallelujah (Richard Thompson) - 
7.) Has He Got a Friend For Me (Richard Thompson) - 
8.) The Little Beggar Girl (Richard Thompson) - 
9.) The End of the Rainbow (Richard Thompson) - 
10.) The Great Valerio (Richard Thompson) - 
11.) The Ballad of Easy Rider - 
12.) Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman (Swarbrick - Richard Thompson) -
13.) A Heart Needs a Home ( Richard Thompson) - 
14) The Dark End of the Street (Chips Moman - Dan Penn) -
15.) The Pitfall/The Excursion (Richard Thompson) -
16.) Flee as a Bird (traditional) -
17.) Night Comes In (Richard Thompson) -
18.) Calvary Cross (Richard Thompson) -

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  First Light

Company: Carthage

Catalog: CGP-

Year: 1978

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 1983 reissue

Available: 1

Price: $8.00

 

 

Having spent the last three years living in a Sufi community, the Thompsons unexpectedly returned to music with the release of 1978's "First Light". Released by Chrysalis, musically the set was a bit on the erratic side. While the layoff didn't seem to have hurt their voices, tracks such as "Restless Highway" and "Died for Love" indicated the extended layoff had left the pair (particularly Richard), creatively a bit rusty. Musically the set was also somewhat confusing. Material such as the title track, "Sweet Surrender" and "Pavanne" were a clear reflection of their ongoing religious commitments. In contrast, "Don't Let a Thief Steal Your Heart" and "Layla" (nope, it wasn't a cover of the Derek and the Dominos hit, besides they sang it as 'Li-La"), were the most commercial things they'd ever done. Far from our favorite album in their catalog, but still worth hearing. The album was supported by a brief UK tour.

"First Light" track listing:
1.) Restless Highway (Richard Thompson) -
2.) Sweet Surrender (Richard Thompson) -
3.) Don't Let a Thief Steal Your Heart (Richard Thompson) -
4.) The Choice Wife (instrumental) (Richard Thompson) -
5.) Died for Love (Richard Thompson) -
6.) Strange Affair (Richard Thompson) -
7.) Layla (Richard Thompson) -
8.) Pavanne (Richard Thompson) -
9.) House of Cards (Richard Thompson) -
10.) First Light (Richard Thompson) -

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Sunnyvista

Company: Carthage

Catalog: CGP-4403

Year: 1979

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 1983 reissue

Available: 1

Price: $8.00

 

Hard as it may be to believe this, but if there's such a thing as an upbeat Richard and Linda Thompson LP, its 1979's "Sunnyvista". Complete with goofy cover concept, the collection found the Thompsons exhibiting a surprisingly upbeat and experimental mood. While Richard turned in a couple of his patented tales of personal misery ("Why Do You Turn Your Back?" and "Lonely Hearts"), the overall results were far more relaxed than previous efforts. "Civilisation", "You're Going To Need Somebody" and "Borrowed Time" were among the hardest rocking things they ever recorded, while "Lonely Hearts" (with backing from Anna and Kate McGarrigile) and "Why Do You Turn Your Back?" stood as some of their prettiest and most commercial compositions. Other highlights included Linda's duet with Anne McGarrigle on "Sisters" and Richard's playful, country-flavored "Saturday Rolling Around". Once again, the set didn't see an American release until 1983.

"Sunnyvista" track listing:
1.) Civilisation (Richard Thompson) -
2.) Borrowed Time (Richard Thompson) -
3.) Saturday Rolling Around (Richard Thompson) -
4.) You're Going To Need Somebody (Richard Thompson) -
5.) Why Do You Turn Your Back? (Richard Thompson) -
6.) Sunnyvista (Richard Thompson) -
7.) Lonely Hearts (Richard Thompson) -
8.) Sisters (Richard Thompson) -
9.) Justice In the Streets (Richard Thompson) -
10.) Traces of My Love (Richard Thompson) -

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  Shoot Out the Lights

Company: Hannibal

Catalog: HNB-1303

Year: 1982

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 

Available: 2

Price: $12.00

 

Having begun recording an album with Gerry Rafferty producing (Rafferty had guested on their previous album), the sessions were shelved. Instead, Richard turned his attention to recording the instrumental set "Strict Tempo!". A year later the Rafferty tracks were resurrected for what was to become the basis of 1982's "Shoot Out the Lights". Just one look at the cover (Richard sitting in the corner of a dark room with a picture of Linda on the wall), told you this was going to be a challenging work. Recorded in the middle of a nasty divorce, the album stands as tersest and most consistent release. Ever wonder what emotional wreckage would sound like? Here you go. You didn't have to be a counselor or psychiatrist to see that tracks such as "Man In Need" and "Wall of Death" served as a mirror for the pair's ongoing domestic situation. While everyone of the eight tracks was worth hearing, it was interesting to see how the two approached their pain from different perspectives. Showcasing Richard's vocal "Don't Renege On Our Love" and a non-to-subtle lyric, "Did She Jump or Was She Pushed" were almost frightening in their intensity. In contrast, Linda's vocals on "Walking On a Wire" and "Just the Motion" reflect a sense of reserved sorrow. Elsewhere, if you want to hear one truly scary song, listen to Richard's take-no-prisoner guitar on the title track. Benefiting from unanimous critical praise, the album proved their most successful American release, peaking at #202, leading Richard to tour the States for the first time in a decade. Unfortunately, it also marked the couple's final collaboration; they filed for divorce the same year.

"Shoot Out the Lights" track listing:
1.) Don't Renege On Our Love (Richard Thompson) - 4:15
2.) Walking On a Wire (Richard Thompson) - 5:24
3.) Man In Need (Richard Thompson) - 3:32
4.) Just the Motion (Richard Thompson) - 6:16
5.) Shoot Out the Lights (Richard Thompson) - 5:20
6.) Back Street Slide (Richard Thompson) - 4:29
7.) Did She Jump or Was She Pushed (Richard Thompson) - 4:45
8.) Wall of Death (Richard Thompson) - 3:42

Richard resumed his solo career, achieving widespread critical recognition, though he's yet to achieve anything akin to large scale popular success. Linda recorded one critically acclaimed solo album (see separate entry) and then largely dropped out of music. Last we heard, Linda was writing material (enjoying some recognition) and running an antique jewelry store in London.

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