A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Richard Thompson

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.


Ruth said...

Thanks for the intro. I'm listening to Beeswing now, and it's lovely in a simply folk way, but with that deep skill you like to rest in.

The Solitary Walker said...

"Brown hair zig-zag around her face and a look of half-surprise
Like a fox caught in the headlights, there was animal in her eyes."

"Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee's wing
So fine that I might crush her where she lay.
She was a lost child, she was running wild,
She said 'As long as there's no price on love, I'll stay.
And you wouldn't want me any other way.'"

Very fine lyrics, I think, to this song.

The Solitary Walker said...

PS He sang this song last night in a short acoustic-only interlude, and it was magic.

Bouncing Bertie said...

Lucky, lucky you, seeing him again last night.

Alex Ramon said...

One of the very best. So many great songs, but "The Great Valerio," "From Galway to Graceland," "Turning of the Tide," "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" (alongside the wonderful "Beeswing" and "Dimming of the Day") are among my favourites. Looking forward to hearing the new album.

Sabine said...

Oh, he is a gem. Did you hear him on Desert Island Discs not too long ago?

The Weaver of Grass said...

You get around Robert - I am envious. Living out here in the sticks any such activity is largely curtailed.

John Zorn said...

Now Rich Thompson is a fine and lesser known vintage. I loved his 'Rumour and Sigh' (I think thats right).

Many excellent songs and fine playing. He backed Sandy Denny at one point I believe.

Goat said...

I've got 'Bright Lights'. Great album.

Howellsey said...

He's a genius. "God loves a drunk", "Mother knows best", "Vincent Black Lightening". Didn't know he wrote "The Great Valerio", Fatima Mansions did an amazing cover version of it.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I shall make a point to become familiar with this artist. There are many whom I have not heard of sadly.
It's nice to hear you had a wonderful night out.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! I really do appreciate them.