Music News

Richard Thompson

Somehow, someway, critical darling Richard Thompson still makes a go of it. Thompson is one of rock 'n' roll's most gifted everythings -- guitarist, songwriter, singer, lyricist. The Brit helped shape U.K. folk rock with his Celtic-informed group Fairport Convention more than 30 years ago. Then, with his wife Linda, he produced gorgeous but bleak records showcasing the couple's rich vocals and Richard's agile, expressive guitar chops. For the past 20 years since his divorce from Linda (documented hauntingly on 1982's classic Shoot Out the Lights), Thompson has romped through a series of challenging solo albums, most noticeably 1983's Hand of Kindness and 1999's suburban-themed Mock Tudor. Though he's dabbled in different styles and moods in his career, these releases all share one thing in common -- none of them have sold worth a damn in the U.S. Perhaps that's why Thompson, now 54, lasted a full 12 years at Capitol before that struggling label finally cut its ties with him. Fortunately, he's no longer an orphan. His latest effort, on the indie Cooking Vinyl, is called The Old Kit Bag, and it stands as vintage Thompson, with tasteful guitar work and an impressive mix of balladry and Celtic rockers, such as the sunny "I'll Tag Along." At this late stage, he'll never find widespread commercial acceptance, but at least it's comforting to know plain artistic appreciation will keep Thompson going for the foreseeable future.
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Christopher O'Connor