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Action Packed: Best of the Capitol Years
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Eric Clapton had better marketing. That's the only way to explain why Richard Thompson isn't as famous as that other British guitar god. A brilliant, albeit subtle, guitar genius, Thompson writes wonderful songs that a... more »
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Eric Clapton had better marketing. That's the only way to explain why Richard Thompson isn't as famous as that other British guitar god. A brilliant, albeit subtle, guitar genius, Thompson writes wonderful songs that are sometimes rockin', sometimes haunting, and sometimes a little bit of both. And he presents them all in a voice that can only be called unique. Unlike most guitar heroes, Thompson is less based in the blues than he is in folk--dating back to his early years with the seminal Fairport Convention--but his has always been a folk music with bite and soul, adding things to the folk lexicon like rockabilly and zydeco. "Cooksferry Queen"--one of the 19 tracks on this compilation culled from the six albums Thompson released on Capitol between 1988 and 1999--features a guitar solo that's downright punk. Tracks like the semihit "I Feel So Good," "Razor Dance," and "Bathsheba Smiles" remain as exhilarating as anything you're apt to hear. Longtime fans will need to hear the three tracks previously unreleased on CD, including a new duet with son Teddy Thompson on "Persuasion" (co-written with Tim Finn) that is absolutely gorgeous. Ultimately, one longs for a box set that encompasses all eras (and labels) of this master's career, but Action Packed proves that the recent last third of it has been topnotch. --Bill Holdship
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John T. from LACONIA, NH
Reviewed on 5/15/2011...
Some beautiful stuff here, some of which I already have on other cds. I especially savored "Beeswing" and the duet with Teddy. Shows RT's range and creative power.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Richard Thompson -- Genius
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson is one of the most gifted musicians and songwriters of the past 40 years, but remarkably (and for reasons that defy understanding) he is largely unknown other than to a devoted coterie of fans and to a slew of serious musicians in the know (Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne, Los Lobos, Michael Stipe, Bob Mould). This new collection, which covers the past 12 years of his 35 year career, is a fine introduction to an incomparable talent.It's hard to compare him to anyone, because his talents are so broad and his sound so distinctive. (The Amazon review of this disc invokes Eric Clapton, but that comparison does a disservice to Thompson -- Clapton, as we all know, is a fine guitarist, but he isn't in the same league as Thompson as a singer or songwriter, and he lacks the originality, wit, fire, darkness, richness, complexity and depth that are hallmarks of the Thompson sound.) Thompson is also unlike his peers in that, at the age of 50+, he continues to crank out records that sound fresh and bold, most recently the wonderful "Mock Tudor." He has been around for a long time -- in the 60s he was a young guitar prodigy with the legendary Fairport Convention, before embarking on a brilliant solo career that included session work for the late, great Nick Drake and a series of magical albums with his ex-wife Linda culminating in the magnificent "Shoot Out the Lights". (The recent "Best of Richard and Linda Thompson" is a decent introduction to this period.) His extraordinarily fertile Capitol period began with 1989's "Amnesia" and concluded with his most recent release, "Mock Tudor." The enduring mystery is how a talent like this can have eluded the ears of so many over the years.What makes the guy so great? His guitar playing alone would suffice as his ticket to Olympus. He is a brilliant technician (accoustic or electric), but unlike the countless slick session men out there, his sound is utterly original and distinctive, a stunning synthesis of Celtic scales, Django Reinhardt, rock, folk and blues that sounds like nobody else. He can do blazing and blistering, he can do delicate and haunting, but there's never a wasted or empty note. Being one of the greatest guitarists of his (or any other) generation would be enough for most folks, but, amazingly, the guy is a stupendously good songwriter to boot. His songs run the gamut from heartbreakingly beautiful ballads to dark, jagged, angry rock, but all are characterized by an exquisite musical and lyrical grace and intelligence. His singing -- perhaps a little on the gruff, unschooled side early on -- has grown richer and stronger over the years. And as a live performer -- well, just buy a ticket next time he's in town and you won't be disappointed.So, how about this new collection? On the whole, I think it's a dandy selection that hits many of the peaks of the last 12 years. I could quibble with a few omissions (the absence of "Dry My Tears" and "The Sights and Sounds of London Town", both from "Mock Tudor", is perplexing), but any disc that has the likes of "Vincent Black Lightning", "Beeswing", "Bathsheba Smiles" and "Keep Your Distance" in one place is a keeper. If you're a neophyte, this is probably as good a place as any to start; but just remember that the man has been recording for more than 30 years and no single disc can do him justice. Happy listening!"
Richard Thompson Remains Relevant, But Unappreciated
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 05/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two of my favorite artists are Bruce Cockburn and Richard Thompson. They are both gifted guitarists and songwriters who have been producing superb music for the past thirty years and neither one of them could get arrested if they marched naked in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade! Unfortunately, both artists--now in their fifties--are probably doomed to the artistic purgatory of being critis' darlings and cult favorites. And that's a shame.Thompson's Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years (which follows in the footsteps of last year's well assembled The Best of Richard & Linda Thompson: The Island Years) samples all five of his Capitol albums from 1988's Amnesia through 1999's excellent Mock Tudor. I bought this CD for two reasons. One, I already own everything Thompson has ever released, including his live recordings only available through the Richard Thompson newsletter Flypaper. But most of my purchases prior to 1996 were either vinyl or cassette. It's nice to have these recordings on CD. Two, you get one new track, "Persuasion," which features his son Teddy on guitar and shares lead vocals. [Based on this song alone, I'd like to see them do an entire album together.] In addition, you get two tracks, "Mr. Rebound" and "Fully Qualified To Be Your Man," which were both previously available only on the vinyl release of Mock Tudor. And with concert favorites like "Turning of the Tide," "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and "Beeswing," you get a generous 19-track sampling of Thompson's music of the past thirteen years. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"