A literate songwriter and fearlessly talented guitarist, Richard Thompson is also a complete bust when it comes to romance. Or so Mock Tudor, which details love gone wrong from an early age to present, suggests over and ov... more »er. Fortunately, Thompson makes his troubles worth our concern, thanks to his mix of wounded perseverance ("Dry My Tears and Move On") and all-out bile (the vindictive but ultimately self-destructive "Hope You Like the New Me"). --Keith Moerer« less
A literate songwriter and fearlessly talented guitarist, Richard Thompson is also a complete bust when it comes to romance. Or so Mock Tudor, which details love gone wrong from an early age to present, suggests over and over. Fortunately, Thompson makes his troubles worth our concern, thanks to his mix of wounded perseverance ("Dry My Tears and Move On") and all-out bile (the vindictive but ultimately self-destructive "Hope You Like the New Me"). --Keith Moerer
"I was so pleased Richard finally jettisoned Mitchell Froom and his horrible production. Though every Thompson album is a gem, he seems to release an out and out masterpiece every 4 or 5 albums(Shoot out the Lights, Daring Adventures, Rumour and Sigh) Well finally we have the Thompson masterpiece for the late 90's. The new producers, Rothrock and Schnapf seem to understand the subtleties of Thompson's music way better than Froom. Instead of bludgeoning the listener, the nuances of the songs shines through. Thompson's concept album about growing up in London is a thrill to hear. "Sights and Sounds of London Town" is as good as Thompson gets and "Crawl Back" is a great rock song. They're all good. Pick up Mock Tudor."
firstname.lastname@example.org | Dallas, TX United States | 08/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't gush often, but this is that rare album fully deserving of 5 stars (and may be more). "Mock Tudor" stands head and shoulders above every other solo RT album I've heard--and many are very good themselves. This is a fully satisfying musical experience.First, there is not a weak track to be found anywhere on this disc. Usually, RT's records include a duffer or two and/or a joke song that goes stale. Every song on "Mock Tudor" is an absolute gem that rewards repeated listenings. You are likely to have a new favorite song every time you listen to it. I have now listened to the album so much that I cannot name a favorite--they are all that good.Second, as has been mentioned in other reviews, the production finally works. I don't have anything against Mitchell Froom per se (his work with Elvis Costello and others is often quite good), but his heavy handed style never seemed to mesh with RT. The sound created by Rothrock and Schnapf is absolutely perfect for this material.If you have ever had any interest in Richard Thompson, buy this record today. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
One of Thompson's best ever...
ewomack | MN USA | 03/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson's last album for Capitol Records was one of his best (arguably vying for first place with 1991's "Rumor and Sigh"). But what a way to go out. 1999's "Mock Tudor" contains incredible songs and poingant lyrics that revolve around a theme of growing up in the London suburbs. Consequently, the album, like much of Thompson's work, swims with Briticisms that might elude Americans.
That leads to "Cooksferry Queen" the album's scorching bluesy opener. It builds to an infernal creshendo replete with frenetic guitars, blasting harmonica, and Thompson's intensifying plea that "She's my Cooksferry Queen!" So what's "Cooksferry"? Internet searches suggest that the song was inspired by a jazz, R&B, and blues pub from Thompson's formative years in North London. The bluesy feel of the song supposedly sets the scene. The song also contains the great reference to a woman's "pre-Raphaelite" curls.
"Sibella", an extremely catchy song, waxes on a bizarre love affair where the narrator finds himself "strangely true" though "we don't make sense together". "Bathsheba Smiles" probably fits the mold of "hit" more than any other song on "Mock Tudor". It seems to explore the seductiveness of women with reference to the famous Biblical woman with whom King David committed adultery.
"Two Faced Love" bounces along happily and contains the great lines: "You don't make my blood run cold / You don't fit my jelly mold". "Hard on Me" features an anvil-pounding rhythym, teeth-gritting vocals and an unforgettable angst. Supposedly Thompson wrote it with his father in mind.
Next comes the album's most seriously funny song, "Crawl Back (Under My Stone)"; a claws-open rip at class society: "I want to be middle class / floor and ceilings made of glass / I just want to be free". "Uninhabited Man" darkly and broodingly continues the theme of insignificance and alientation. Not much humor in this one.
The next two songs deal with one of Thompson's favorite on-going themes: lost or broken love. Nearly every mortal ever born can identify with the heart-breaking "Dry My Tears And Move On". But thankfully we can bounce back from such dire episodes, as "Walking the Long Miles Home" reminds us.
"Sights and Sounds of London Town" is just what its title suggests. A series of lyrical vignettes about the life experiences of Londoners (lots of London references here). The appropriately dour "That's All, Amen, Close the Door" was written for English singer Sandy Denny (a former Fairport Convention member who died in 1978).
The album's closer sticks like glue: "Hope you Like The New Me". Thompson wrote this about those who had stolen music or money from him. The song's stark grim seriousness suggests Thompson's seriousness (though the song also has a dark humorous edge to it).
Surprisingly, after such a brilliant album, Thompson and Capitol split ways. Sadly, Thompson's sales have never been stellar (though he still has a very faithful following). Which goes to prove that sales and quality are totally different beasts. Luckily, "Mock Tudor" remains in print after most of Thompson's Capitol albums have disappeared from circulation. Most can easily be obtained from online auctions or used bins. Happily, Thompson perseveres and continues to record with smaller labels. Major label fallout could never stop a songwriting powerhouse like Thompson."
Rock doesn't get any better than this
Andy Agree | Omaha, NE | 04/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a discovery Richard Thompson was! I checked out this CD at a music store and simply could not believe the consistent power and quality of this music. Only later did I learn of Richard's long history in the English folk scene, and I have since sampled his earlier work, but Mock Tudor is rock music of the highest order. The range of expression on guitar goes from nimble-finger picking to power slashing, and Richard's vocals are deep and strong, with words that are sometimes exuberant, often bitter, always literate. In particular, he dissects the painful contrariness of love with a misfit like himself. "Cooksferry Queen" is his raucous celebration of the blue-collar alley-girl to whom he will commit himself: "In a town that has no future, that is where my future lies." "Sibella" has a driving beat and guitar solo reminiscent of Neil Young's "Southern Man": "Bathsheba Smiles" is one of the very best, about a woman wielding immense social power as she works a room. "Two-Faced Love" is another winning rocker and "Hard On Me" is the hardest-hitting of them all - one has to be in the mood for this. "Under My Stone" is a sarcastic jab at a former benefactor, slick with resentment, "Riff raff crawling from the slums, right there in front of all your chums...You won't have to introduce me...I'll crawl back under my stone." The closing finger picking electric guitar and organ is subtle, very effective rock. "Uninhabited Man" is a song of hopeless aching and longing and great beauty. It speaks of the devastation left behind by a love affair so awful that it guts the essence out of a man, leaving him an empty shell unable to respond to a new offer of love. "I'm left no skill no art, to meet you heart to heart, you'll find no me beneath the skin. And if there's no me then there's no sin." I emphasize the lyrics here not because I think lyrics are so important in rock, but because when the music is this good, lyrics like these elevate it to an even higher plane. These first seven tracks alone make this a 5-star CD. The remaining tracks are in a folkier mode, and are excellent, but I gravitate to the rock songs and have less to say about the others. The final track "Hope You Like the New Me" is interesting lyrically, nearly turning "Uninhabited Man" on its head, about a man who has adopted so many of the characteristics of another man that he has stolen his identity. If you are a rock fan and tempted to pass this up in favor of Richard's "Best of" collection, don't. As great as that is, this is a collection you will want in its entirety. If you then want more, buy his other CDs."
So good, it's a musical anomaly!
Andy Agree | 09/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a musician, and a fairly skillful guitarist to boot, I take a lot to impress. Mock Tudor was simply the finest, most expertly layered, best-produced rock album I had heard in years.
This is hard rock of the pop genre, loosely speaking, but neither the subject matter nor the instrumentation (nor especially the raw emotion of Richard Thompson's vocals, let alone that snarlingly expressive guitar of his) are for the faint-hearted! A warm, modal buzz from Celtic folk roots shares the stage with near-punk sensibilities as angry as the Clash, but with more of a vocabulary. I had never heard Thompson before, except in the context of Fairport Convention (an excellent British folk-rock band), so I expected folk-rock; I was completely unprepared for how much of an edge this would have. If you feel like banging your head open against a wall, the song "Hard on Me" will match you! If you are contemplating the emptiness of your existence, "Uninhabited Man" gives constructive poetry to fill the void. "Bathsheba Smiles" talks about whores...and celebrates their awesome power. And those three hardly scratch the surface of all that is communicated in Mock Tudor, yet their instrumentation alone is more impressive than most things you'll hear these days. Best album of '99, if not the decade. Not happy music, but good enough to make you happy again."