"Most artists can do "I fell in love - I fell out of love - I've never gotten over it" in one album. Richard Thompson just takes his time to examine the subject more deeply - say two decades. He's tenderly regretful (When The Spell Is Broken), perhaps still in love (You Don't Say), and optimistic concerning future possibilities (I Ain't Going To Drag My Feet No More).Across The Crowded Room is a rocker with minor but distinguishable ties to traditional English folk music. Instrumentation similar to that of English Chamber Music gives his compositions an air of grace and royalty (Shine On Love, Walking Through A Wasted Land). And what would be more charming than framing the CD with the cheerful jangle of a 12-string Rickenbacker compliments of Simon Nicol (You Don't Say, Walking Through A Wasted Land). Richard's own scathing electric guitar rips through the CD (When The Spell Is Broken, She Twists The Knife Again). And like the work of B.J. Wilson (Procol Harum), Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon; Dave Mattack's drum rhythms are scintillating with no self-indulgent flash. The plaintive voice of an adorable lady (Christine Collister) contrasts Richard's rough delivery. She's most noticeable (and effective) on `When The Spell Is Broken,' `Shine On Love,' and `She Twists The Knife Again.'Minor annoyances? Afraid so. Two tracks (`Fire In The Engine Room' and `Little Blues Number') are my least favorite style of rock. I can only describe them as "100-MPH boogie": super-fast rock-a-billy with no purpose except to see just how fast the band can play.Two compositions clearly shine on Across: one is the angry hard driving `She Twists The Knife Again.' The other, `Love In A Faithless Country,' is one of those Richard Thompson haunted, dark and vindictive love songs that breaks the borders of popular music and goes straight for knife-in-the-heart emotion. With an exotic Kate Bush-like choir arrangement, and Richard's torrid lead guitar, the track is one of his most riveting compositions. Across A Crowded Room is a Richard Thompson "average" CD. By comparison, his average work is outstanding."
Pretty good, but Thompson has done much better
email@example.com | Dallas, TX United States | 08/15/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Any fan will want this in the collection, if for no other reason than the concert staples it contains ("When the Spell is Broken", "She Twists the Knife Again", "Ghosts in the Wind"). There are plenty of other fine songs here, as well, but I find the overall sound of this album to be a bit flat and tired (perhaps this is why RT switched producers after this one). Most of these songs just don't grab me the way Thompson's best stuff does.The quality of RT's large catalog has set the bar very high, so while this album is certainly good, in the context of Thompson's other work it rates as only average. I would recommend "Hand of Kindnes", "Mock Tudor", "Shoot Out The Lights" or "Pour Down Like Silver", among others, far ahead of this one."
Spooky rumination on love and its aftermath
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 11/14/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although not Thompson's finest album, Across a Crowded Room leaves no doubt as to which side of the fence Thompson sits on when it comes to love; he's a cynical observer. Written in the aftermath of Thompson's messy divorce to folk singer Linda Thompson, Room features a handful of powerful Thompson classics dressed to kill.
The stand out cuts include When The Spell Is Broken, the bitter You Don't Say, the shimmering Ghost in the Wind and the spooky Love In A Faithless Country. BGO has done it's usual terrific job with this fine album. The sound is better than the original Polydor release on CD (one of their first and, sadly, it sounded like it). The artwork is faithful to the original LP design. There aren't any notes on the making of the album. The reissued CD doesn't include the lyrics which, as I recall, were issued with the original vinyl version and were definitely issued with the first CD issued.
The running order reflects the LP. Also, "Ghost in the Wind" runs a tad bit too fast (it was sped up a slight amount to allow the original tracks to fit on the vinyl version). A warning to Thompson fans. BGO used the wrong master for this reissued CD--the LP master was mistaken pulled out and used. As a result this reissue is missing the CD/cassette bonus track "Shine on Love" which was a nice little gem. This album needs to be remastered using the proper master and with the bonus track."
Bridges the gap
Wayne Klein | 08/31/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This was a transitional album for Richard Thompson; the one that laid the groundwork for his solo career to follow, more so than its predecessor "Hand of Kindness," which was musically and lyrically an extension of "Shoot Out the Lights," the last Richard and Linda album. Pretty much everything RT has done since has its roots in "Across A Crowded Room"'s take on various rock and folk styles. The main difference is the Joe Boyd production; the controversial Mitchell Froom took over after this one.However, with a couple of exceptions, this isn't an especially great batch of songs by RT standards, although the music is as excellent as you'd expect from Richard. The standout is the brooding "When The Spell Is Broken," still a staple of his live set. Several of the uptempo rockers (there are more of them than usual on this set) entertain but none quite reach the heights of "Tear-Stained Letter." "She Twists the Knife Again" is mean-spirited but irresistible musically, and "Walking Through A Wasted Land" is surprisingly rollicking for a pessimistic song of societal breakdown. But "Ghosts In the Wind" is rather dull, "Love In A Faithless Country" is unusually pretentious for RT, and "You Don't Say" is terribly slight (though interestingly, he would draw from its musical blueprint many times on the coming albums)."Across A Crowded Room" isn't a must-own, but anybody mining the Thompson catalog will want it and won't be displeased with it."
A deep, searching album full of insight!
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/23/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HAND OF KINDNESS, Thompson's first solo album after his split from musical partner and ex-wife Linda, seemed, with the exception of a few tracks, a holding operation. Thompson hadn't found his voice as a solo artist yet. ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM allows Thompson to come into his own as a vocalist and crow his observations to the world.A terrific continuation of SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS, ACROSS A CROWDED ROOM allows Thompson to view the disintegration of his marriage with a little distance, humor and a touch of malice. There are also track of great humor. The most touching tracks on the album "Ghost in the wind" and "When the spell is broken" contemplate the ruins of Thompson's relationship with an unexpected evenhandness and compassion.Buy this album before Polydor deletes it!(I doubt it sold a heck of a lot compared to later Thompson titles). This album, along with his solo live album and RUMOUR & SIGH are among Thompson's best."