Greg Cleary | Marquette, MI United States | 04/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Hokey Pokey" is generally regarded as the weakest of Richard and Linda's early albums, but I regard it as only slightly less great than "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight," which is their best. In fact, I like it better in a way because it's more fun. Richard has said that he and Linda made a conscious attempt to be more upbeat with "Hokey Pokey," and that he's not sure if it was successful. Well, I'm here to say that it WAS successful, although in an odd way because even the most upbeat songs here have dark undercurrents. Richard and Linda's music has never sold well in the U.S., and that may be partly due to the fact that it is so British. And their England has more in common with the England of William Blake than that of the Beatles. An exception here is "Georgie on a Spree," which sounds like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." But this sort of material sounds much more natural coming from Richard and Linda than it does from the Beatles. (I think John Lennon would have agreed.) The final song, "Mole in a Hole," is another music hall-style number, but with a very odd chorus: "I want to be a mole in a hole digging low and slow/I want to be a fly flying high in the sky." It was not written by Richard (or Linda), but it is the perfect album closer, summing up the sardonic worldview of everything that comes before it. The first track, "Hokey Pokey (The Ice Cream Song)" features great interplay between Linda's voice and Richard's guitar. The lyrics mix images of innocence and sexual suggestion in a way that would be very difficult for most singers to put across without it turning into low comedy, but Linda nails it. The very next track, Richard's "I'll Regret It All in the Morning," is an ironic answer to the song about innocence and ice cream, with lyrics like, "Whiskey helps to clear my head/Bring it with me into bed/If I wake up nearly dead/I'll regret it all in the morning." Another highlight (lowlight?) is "The Egypt Room," with its images of sleaze and guilt punctuated by a tantalizingly brief guitar solo at the end. "Smiffy's Glass Eye" and "The Sun Never Shines on the Poor" continue themes that were introduced in "The Little Beggar Girl" from the previous album. The idea seems to be to contemplate the very worst that humanity has to offer, and Richard and Linda even drag us listeners into the muck by making a cheap (but funny!) joke at poor Smiffy's expense. "A Heart Needs a Home," sung by Linda, is a surprisingly melodic ballad, and at the risk of turning a few people off, I will say that it reminds me a little bit of The Carpenters. It is one of the most beautiful ballads the Thompsons ever recorded. This album, quite simply, is a knockout. Do not be fooled by its seemingly uneven tone. It all makes sense if you keep listening. I have it on LP, and my copy has a gatefold sleeve with all the lyrics printed inside, so hopefully the CD copies include this. "Hokey Pokey" is a must-have for fans of the Thompsons, and it deserves to be more widely available than it currently is."
Thompsons' second record a worthy follow-up.
Mostly Harmless | Mountain Home, AR | 03/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During the two short years 1974-75, and a decade before the monolithic "Shoot Out the Lights," Richard and Linda Thompson crafted three magnificant records. "Hokey Pokey" had the misfortune of following their stunning debut, "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight," and in comparison seems a lesser work of art. The sweeping beauty of its predecessor is glimpsed only in spots, as in the oft-recorded "A Heart Needs a Home." The album never establishes a comfortable tone, and instead ping-pongs between comical, hard Celtic romps like "Smitty's Glass Eye" and "Georgie on a Spree," and evocative lamentations like "I'll Regret it All in the Morning" and "Old Man Inside a Young Man." Still, there is very little to be disappointed in, for each song stands up well on its own, and a few are classics. Richard's guitar work, always unique in the way it engages the vocals in a dialogue, is plentiful and of course fascinating. If your constitution can handle the up-and-down sequencing of these brilliant songs, you'll find yourself playing this short disc frequently."
Folk Rock Ice Cream Parlor
Cory E Anderson | Corona, CA United States | 05/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some radio broadcast about Fairport Convention led me to purchase Liege & Lief. From there I picked up Hokey Pokey on a whim. I Could've gotten Shoot Out The Lights, but the album (CD) cover was more interesting on this one. I wasn't disappointed. The subject matter jumps from deadly serious to deadly humorous, but the music and especially the harmonies are amazing. This release is one of the treats in my collection. It reminds me on one level of Peter Paul and Mary being played to my puff-the-magic-dragon kindergarten classroom. At the same time, there's a deeper and darker side to it ( as to everything, no?). I highly recomend this addition to your collection. I also suggest you play it for the parents and kids (and crank it up for the neighbors if you're of the mind...)"
Laughter and tears
Cory E Anderson | 08/31/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nearly half of this album is as happy and upbeat as anything Richard (and, of course, Linda) Thompson has ever done, but true to form, he balances it with two or three of the bleakest songs in his catalog. The resulting album lacks the consistency of the best R&L albums, but is still full of classics.The funny and/or happy songs ("Hokey Pokey," "Smiffy's Glass Eye," "Georgie on a Spree," etc.) tap into the English musical hall style that was in vogue among early '70s rockers (the Kinks especially). Of course, Linda sings all of these. Her real highlight on this album, however, is the achingly beautiful "A Heart Needs A Home," which is very good here but an even better take can be found on the "(guitar, vocal)" album.Leave it to Richard to add the gloom with the dark, dark "I'll Regret It All In The Morning" and "Old Man Inside A Young Man." He also sings the intriguing, slightly sinister "The Egypt Room."All in all, "Hokey Pokey" is a fine album, but it helps if you're in a schizophrenic mood to fully appreciate it."
Richard and Linda's Unsung Album
Cory E Anderson | 11/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard and Linda's most under-rated album consists of very gloomful tunes such as "Old Man Inside a Young Man" and "I'll Regret It In THe Morning" and very upbeat tunes such as "Hokey Pokey" and "Smiffy's Glass Eye." This is a powerful album that should not be over looked by any RT + LT fan! It is a brilliant piece of work, get it!"