Richard Thompson
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Henry The Human Fly (1972) , 6.5/10
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974) , 7.5/10
Hokey Pokey (1975) , 6/10
Pour Down Like Silver (1975) , 7.5/10
First Light (1978) , 6/10
Sunnyvista (1979) , 6/10
Strict Tempo (1981) , 6/10
Shoot Out The Lights (1982) , 8/10
Hand Of Kindness (1983) , 7/10
Across A Crowded Room (1985) , 5.5/10
Daring Adventure (1986) , 6/10
Amnesia (1988) , 6.5/10
Rumor And Sigh (1991) , 6.5/10
Sweet Talker (1992) , 5/10
Mirror Blue (1994) , 5/10
You Me Us (1996), 5/10
Mock Tudor (1999), 6/10
The Old Kit Bag (2003), 6/10
Front Parlour Ballads (2005), 5.5/10
Sweet Warrior (2007), 6/10
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Far from being merely Fairport Convention's guitarist, Richard Thompson revealed a philosophical persona via a set of pensive, pessimistic and occasionally macabre ballads that sound more like religious psalms than folk-rock songs. He delivered them with a mixture of neo-classical composure and eccentric nonsense on Henry The Human Fly (1972) and especially I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974). Then he absorbed sufism and proceeded to chisel out the stately, funereal elegies of Pour Down Like Silver (1975), and thus achieved the transcendental bleakness of his masterpiece, Shoot Out The Lights (1982), in which expressionist fear and existential suspense are sustained by erudite lyrics. Thompson would still sink into utter desolation, on the shiver-inducing Hand Of Kindness (1983), but mostly would maintain an emotional balance that translated into the mature elegance of Amnesia (1988) and Rumor And Sigh (1991)
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Il chitarrista Richard Thompson lascio` i Fairport Convention nel 1971. Sorprendendo tutti coloro che lo vedevano semplicemente come un bravo sessionman, Thompson si mise in luce sia come uno dei chitarristi piu` brillanti degli anni '90 sia come uno dei cantautori piu` originali e profondi di sempre. Thompson scrive canzoni che sembrano salmi religiosi, in cui convivono al tempo stesso la compostezza classica e il piglio eccentrico.

Il suo primo album solista, Henry The Human Fly (Island, 1972), presento` la voce di sua moglie, Linda. Le liriche fataliste, ispirate dalla religione mussulmana, conferivano un'aria da parabola alle sue canzoni, che dal punto di vista musicale accoppiavano riff alla Chuck Berry (Roll Over Vaughan Williams) e l'uso della concertina e della fisarmonica di John Kirkpatrick. Svettano The New St. George, Wheely Down e The Poor Ditching Boy, mentre Nobody's Wedding e The Old Changing Way si riallacciano al folk-rock dei Fairport Convention.

I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974), accreditato anche a Linda, fu un lavoro ancor piu` innovativo. Su quel disco svettano When I Get To The Border, prima delle sue dediche blasfeme alla Morte, Calvary Cross, sermone drammatico, e The End Of The Rainbow, di un lancinante nichilismo. Anche le canzoni che musicalmente non sembrano un gran che' (The Great Valerio, Withered and Died) riescono a mandare i brividi per la schiena. Brillano sia la tecnica di Thompson alla chitarra sia il mezzo-soprano vagamente esotico di Linda.

Continuando una progressione esaltante, il culmine di questa fase venne raggiunto l'anno successivo, non tanto da Hokey Pokey (Island, 1975), sul quale figurano la classica Georgie On A Spree, I'll Regret It All In The Morning e A Heart Needs A Home, ma il cupo e austero Pour Down Like Silver (Island, 1975), influenzato dalla loro conversione al sufismo. Il sound era pervenuto a una sintesi allucinata della Band e del Dylan di Desire (Streets Of Paradise, Hard Luck Stories). Le funeree armonie vocali di For Shame Of Doing Wrong, la marziale e tragica Poor Boy Is Taken Away, e la lunga, nobile elegia di Night Comes In si spingevano anche oltre: il lento, cadaverico incedere delle ballate e` scandito dalla dizione cristallina dei cantanti; l'accompagnamento pare dileguarsi, gli accordi tintinnanti della chitarra cadono nella desolazione piu` totale.
Il fascino delle sue canzoni deve molto al suo stile di suonare la chitarra (che talvolta imita le cornamuse, talvolta indulge in improvvisazioni jazz, talvolta mescola elementi dissonanti e melodici) e alla sua maniera compositiva (ispirata prevalentemente a varii stili di danza, dal "morris" al walzer), entrambe mediate dal folk celtico.

Guitar Vocal (Island, 1976) e` un doppio antologico di materiale inedito, fra cui una spettrale cover di Dark End Of The Street.

First Light (Chrysalis, oct 1978) Don't Let A Thief Steal Into Your Heart Negli anni successivi Thompson fu reso celebre soprattutto per le sue alte ballate di morte (Strange Affair, 1978).

Sunnyvista (Chrysalis, sep 1979) Lonely Hearts Why Do You Turn Your Back Dopo lo strumentale Strict Tempo (Elixir, sep 1981), raccolta di jig, reel, polka, suonati interamente da lui, Richard si aggrego` alle formazioni dada di David Thomas.

Linda e Richard Thompson eguagliarono i loro momenti migliori su Shoot Out The Lights (Hannibal, mar 1982), forte di una sezione ritmica formata da ex colleghi dei Fairport Convention. L'anthem Wall Of Death ("you can waste your time on the other rides/ but this is the nearest to being alive") e le altre maestose epiche del disco dipingono un mondo molto personale e decisamente lugubre. Talvolta sono cosi` ricche di trovate ritmiche da ricordare piu` il country americano (il galoppo e il coro basso di Don't Renege Our Love). Il contrasto fra il fine e i mezzi non potrebbe essere piu` straniante: Walking On A Wire e` impostata come un tipico "lento" ballabile, e Man In Need rifa il verso ai Jefferson piu` "duri". Questa tecnica rasenta il piu` efferato "black humour" in gag come Backstreet Slide, sorta di parata festosa su una visione macabra. Sono invece in linea con il tema del disco i macabri rintocchi della title-track, un incubo espressionista, e l'elegia funebre di Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed, che il continuum nevrotico delle chitarre immerge in un'atmosfera da thriller.

Dopo la separazione da Linda, Thompson con Hand Of Kindness (Hannibal, jun 1983) sembro` sprofondare nella depressione piu` cupa, attraverso allegorie (Devonside) e memorie personali (How I Wanted To), benche' le musiche fossero le piu` vivaci di tutta la sua carriera (in sintonia con le liriche velenose di Tear Stained Letter e A Poisoned Heart And A Twisted Memory).

L'umore negativo permea anche Love In A Faithless Country, su Across A Crowded Room (Polydor, apr 1985).

Il piu` espansivo Daring Adventure (Polydor, sep 1986) annovera la tagliente Dead Man's Handle e l'incantata elegia Jennie, ma anche la quadriglia cajun Valerie, l'incalzante A Bone Through The Nose, il singolo Nearly In Love. Chiudono il disco How Will I Ever Be Simple Again e Al Bowlly's In Heaven, che suggellano questa conversione di Thompson a un tono medio piu` umano.

Sorprendentemente, l'album solista di Linda Thompson, One Clear Moment (Warner, 1985), dimostro` che Richard non era l'unico genio della coppia (Telling Me Lies).

Thompson ha anche messo la sua chitarra al servizio dei monologhi surreali di David Thomas e ha contribuito A Blind Step Away all'album Live Love Larf And Loaf (Rhino, 1987) registrato con il batterista John French e con i chitarristi Fred Frith e Henry Kaiser; e la novelty operistica March Of The Cosmetic Surgeons e l'orecchiabile scherzo Peppermint Rock sul successivo Invisible Means (Demon, 1990) dello stesso quartetto.

Amnesia (Capitol, 1988) is another significant work, albeit in a format that is "pop" by his austere standards. At least Turning Of The Tide, The Reckless Kind and Waltzing For Dreamers rank among his most profound efforts.
Other tracks: Gypsy Love Songs, Jerusalem On The Jukebox, I Still Dream, Don't Tempt Me, Yankee, Go Home, Can't Win, Pharaoh.

Rumor And Sigh (Capitol, 1991) is another work by a mature master who can write impeccable songs without the slightest effort. Thompson is equally at ease with the violent, harsh rockers (I Feel So Good, Backlash Love Affair, You Dream TOo Much) and with the somber, pensive dirges (I Misunderstood, Mystery Wind, the sentimental ballad God Loves A Drunk, the spectacular folk tune 1952 Vincent Black Lightning) and even finds the time to deliver a comic tale of puberty (Read About Love).

Sweet Talker (Capitol, 1992) is a (mostly instrumental) soundtrack (To Hang A Dream On).

Watching The Dark (Hannibal, 1993) is a three-disc career retrospective

Slick production and poppy refrains almost destroy the magic on Mirror Blue (Capitol, 1994). Some songs (King Of Bohemia, Taking My Business Elsewhere, Beeswing) echo his past work without fully reproducing it. Some (Mascara Tears, Mingus Eyes, Easy There Steady Now) try new avenues. And I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life tries a little too hard to sound like a pop ballad.

From this half-operational Richard Thompson a double-disc opus such as You Me Us (Capitol, 1996) is a mixed blessing. Occasionally (The Ghost of You Walks , Razor Dance, Dark Hand Over My Heart, Hide It Away) one hears the classic Thompson mood, Few of the acoustic tunes deserve to be in the album, She Cut Off Her Long Silken Hair being the notable exception. This should have been an EP, not a double album.

Bug Music Sampler (Bug Music, 1998) is an anthology.

Mock Tudor (Capitol, 1999), a concept album about London, is a hodgepodge of Thompson-ian stereotypes that covers a broad stylistic range (sprightly blues-rock in Cooksferry Queen , rhythm and blues balladry in Two-Faced Love, dreary pop soulfulness in Dry My Tears And Move On). Thompson is trying very hard to top himself, both vocally/lyrically, with the folkish fresco of Sights And Sounds Of London Town, an apocalyptic gallery of characters reminiscent of Dylan's Desolation Row (but the refrain recalls 1952 Vincent Black Lightning), and instrumentally (two guitar solos in Hard On Me, one of them sounding like the riff off Shoot Out the Lights). Whatever his intentions, Thompson delivers a catchy, bouncy Crawl Back (which is basically an improved version of Razor Dance), in the tradition of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, that is probably his most radio-friendly tune.

It took 17 years for Linda Thompson to recover from a severe disease and record a follow-up to her charming solo debut, One Clear Moment (Warner, 1985): Fashionably Late (Rounder, 2002). Her third solo, Versatile Heart (2007) was even better, although still limited by the fact that the best songs were written by others (Beauty by Rufus Wainwright and several by her son Teddy Thompson).

The Old Kit Bag (Cooking Vinyl, 2003), which comprises two song cycles, is his humblest work in a long time. The music is nonetheless arty and ambitious, particularly the long and majestic Gethsemane and First Breath, and the moving meditations of A Love You Can't Survive and I'll Tag Along, even pretentious in Outside of the Inside.

Even humbler is Front Parlour Ballads (Cooking Vinyl, 2005), a mostly lo-fi acoustic collection recorded at his home. Grizzly Man (2005) is the soundtrack to a Werner Herzog film.

Sweet Warrior (2007), released on the 40th anniversary of the year he started playing with Fairport Convention, was another solo but mainly used the electric guitar. The songs were bleak and gloomy as usual, but at least a bit more robust.

Richard Thompson Dream Attic (Proper, 2010) a new set of songs delivered in a live setting
Tracks:
The Money Shuffle Among The Gorse, Among The Grey Haul Me Up Burning Man Here Comes Geordie Demons In Her Dancing Shoes Crimescene Big Sun Falling In The River Stumble On Sidney Wells A Brother Slips Away Bad Again If Love Whispers Your Name

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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