Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Watching The Dark: The History of Richard Thompson
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
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Phrodoe | Another day older and deeper in debt... | 11/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson is without a doubt THE most underrated guitarist/songwriter on either side of the Atlantic. He's been called the "thinking man's guitar hero," and I wouldn't dare gainsay that. From his seminal work with Fairport Convention (listen to his shimmering guitar work on "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"), to his excellent albums with former wife Linda (Shoot Out the Lights is a "breakup" album on a par with Dylan's Blood On the Tracks), to his magnificent solo work of the last twenty years (Rumor & Sigh, You? Me? Us?, Mock Tudor), Thompson has rarely, if ever, failed to deliver, or to meet his own high standards of excellence. As evidence I direct you to Watching the Dark, the best, most satisfying box set I've ever bought, better even than Dylan's Biograph. Here are just a few of the great songs on this intelligent compilation:* "Can't Win" -- a grim classic which predates the alt-rock whining of the last decade, and surpasses it in every way; the live version here contains the greatest guitar solo I've ever heard.* "Tear-Stained Letter" -- Thompson's hysterical take on his own divorce, with another great solo and memorable lines like "She danced on my heart like Arthur Murray,/The skies ain't ever gonna mend in a hurry."* "Al Boully's In Heaven" -- a slinky, jazzy tune that is one of Thompson's most underrated.* "From Galway To Graceland" -- a touching yet unnerving song, based on real-life events, that addresses celebrity obsession in a way unlike any you'll ever see.* "Waltzing's For Dreamer's" -- Thompson is a wizard with 3/4 time, as both "Galway To Graceland" and this exquisite heartbreaker prove.* "The Dimming Of the Day" -- one of Linda Thompson's most heartfelt vocals, and one of her former husband's best songs.* "Two Left Feet" -- Thompson's impish humor is again on display here, which proves that, Al Yankovic notwithstanding, rock music and polka beats DO mix!* "Borrowed Time" -- How this song missed getting on the radio is a mystery to me.* "A Sailor's Life" -- An amazing song from the Fairport Convention era, featuring the lovely vocals of the late, sorely lamented Sandy Dennis (best known to rock fans for her guest-vocal stint on Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore").* And last but definitely not least, "Bird In God's Garden/Lost and Found" -- a song translated from an ancient Sanskrit poem, turned by Thompson into something enigmatic, heartfelt, chilling, and altogether astonishing. This song alone makes Watching the Dark worth its purchase price. It is one of the most perfect pieces of music I've ever heard in my life, and one of the few songs from the rock era that has any kind of real emotional context behind it.I could mention other songs -- "Cavalry Cross," "Beat the Retreat," the scarifying "Shoot Out the Lights," the double-entendre-rich "Hokey Pokey," "Now Be Thankful," and about a dozen others, that make this compilation worth owning. I could also mention those mysteriously left out -- like "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," to this day Thompson's most touching folk ballad; "Psycho Street," one of the most unusual things he's ever done (to say the least!); and "Limey's Lament," an obscure song I first encountered on the Fairport Chronicles album. It's the best book-of-lists song I've heard since Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," -- "Lament" is a hilarious song that has Thompson's lyrical fngerprints all over it. How it missed getting onto Watching the Dark I'll never know. If you're interested in Thompson at all, you'll be led from this to his other excellent work, such as the Mirror Blue album, or I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. You'll also understand what I said at the beginnging of this review -- that Thompson is THE most underrated guitarist/songwriter working today. Unjustly so, too, when compared with his contemporaries. Clapton, for all his not-inconsiderable talents, just can't measure up; Page and Beck are pretenders to the throne at best; even the great Pete Townshed can't hold a plectrum to RT's amazing talents. How do I know? I've played Watching the Dark for fans of these other guitar-hero types, and each and every person has been not just impressed, but astonished. "How come I've never heard of this guy?" more than one has asked of me. So, now you've heard of him. Give him a try, and I guarantee you'll be more than satisfied."
A chicken soup approach to Richard Thompson that works
moose_of_many_waters | Palo Alto, CA United States | 02/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Basically I'm an anarchist. So the comments about the strange order of these songs of others don't really apply for me. I'd hit the random button anyway.
The fact is that there are a lot of fabulous songs on this box set. And the chosen live performances on here are incredibly good. They bring back a lot of great memories of seeing Richard Thompson live.
Richard Thompson is a treasure. If you want one grouping that encapsulates just how good he is, this one does it. He plays guitar like no one else. He writes songs that make the heart ache and the brain fire a billion synapses. Over the years he's learned how to sing decently as well.
He will never be a star. But he's proof that if you're talented enough, you can make a decent, if not great living, writing and performing intelligent pop music. And you can do it for a long, long time. In the world of pop music, he's as good as it gets. Add 30 points to the IQs of Dave Mathews, Damien Rice, or John Mayer and maybe they'd write as smart. But they wouldn't write with as much heart."
BUY IT NOW OR REPENT FOR ETERNITY!
moose_of_many_waters | 09/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you're a Richard Thompson fan, or thinking about becoming one, or just enjoy GREAT music, this three-disk set is absolutely essential. It presents an exciting and engaging look at a consummate musician whose biting wit and odd perspective on life is legendary. Whether it's the quiet, reflective BEAT THE RETREAT, WALTZING'S FOR DREAMERS or WHEN THE SPELL IS BROKEN, or the apocalyptic, sturm und drang live versions of CALVARY CROSS and SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS, this set delivers bigtime. There are enough unreleased tracks and alternate versions to keep WATCHING THE DARK from becoming redundant, even after you have bought the rest of his discs. The hypnotic, jangly, hudy-gurdy-driven POOR WEE JOCKEY CLARKE is a particular treat. There has been some criticism that the non-chronological order of the three disks makes little sense. However, if you throw a handful of diamonds, rubies, silver and gold into a bag and shake them up, you still have a bag full of treasures. Thompson's songs have their own logic that transcends mere calendars. Buy WATCHING THE DARK; you'll own your own little collection of gems."