Call him a poor man's Dylan, or a wise man's Clapton. Richard Thompson is perhaps the most underrated performer of his generation. For 40 years, first with Fairport Convention, then with ex-wife Linda Peters, and finally solo, Thompson has continued to produce terrific, thoughtful albums while others have fallen off. His songwriting ranges from dour, scornful songs to detailed, cinematic ballads that drop you in the heart of the action. His playing is just as visceral, and widely regarded with awe. Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) once said that seeing Thompson made him never want to pick up the guitar again. Sounding rejuvenated of late (1999's Mock Tudor was his best in years), Thompson has benefited creatively from the move to indie label Cooking Vinyl. Sadly, the industry's woes are sapping this amazing guitarist's ability to record (and hence tour) with a full band. "Everything else gets easier," says Thompson of the changing biz, "but to have a recording budget gets harder."