|Image courtesy of Kevin Smith at Wikimedia Commons.|
If most people had to list our top UK rock and roll guitarists, the names of Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Hank Marvin, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page would probably come to mind. However, polls regularly place Richard Thompson as the best British guitarist (certainly the best folk-rock guitarist) of all time, and I wouldn't disagree. In the songwriting stakes, too, I would put him up there among the greats — look at his beautiful songs Beeswing and Dimming Of The Day, for instance.
I suppose Thompson may not be quite as well known and appreciated as some of our musicians and songwriters because his songs can appear melancholy and depressing, hard-edged, out of the mainstream — a little too, well, folky. But I myself love his romantic realism and his folk roots.
I've followed Richard since his early days with seminal folk-rock band Fairport Convention and through his forty-album career. I even once had a chat with him and his then wife, Linda, at the bar of St John's College, Durham, during a concert break.
It was a privilege to see the wonderful Richard Thompson again last night in Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall. He's on a UK tour at the moment with his band (Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums) to promote their new album Electric. He's gigging the US in March and April. Do see him if you get the chance.
Here's a live performance from Austin, Texas, of his song Put It There Pal.