Search - Richard Thompson :: Small Town Romance

Small Town Romance
Richard Thompson
Small Town Romance
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

Spanning the artist's career from 1967 to 1982, Small Town Romance is a delightful introduction for the neophyte and a necessity for even the most casual Richard Thompson fan. This warm, clear-sounding live disc, recorded ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Richard Thompson
Title: Small Town Romance
Members Wishing: 8
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hannibal
Original Release Date: 1/1/1984
Re-Release Date: 11/4/1997
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Styles: British & Celtic Folk, Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriters, Folk Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 031257141925, 031257131612, 031257131643

Spanning the artist's career from 1967 to 1982, Small Town Romance is a delightful introduction for the neophyte and a necessity for even the most casual Richard Thompson fan. This warm, clear-sounding live disc, recorded at the Bottom Line and Folk City in New York in '82, shows the singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter in top solo form following the dissolution of his partnership with wife Linda. One caveat: Thompson's vocal delivery--especially on songs that Linda used to sing, such as "A Heart Needs a Home" and "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight"--is a tad rough. One assumes this is the reason Thompson (according to label head Joe Boyd) asked for the record to stay out of print for a number of years. But such minor quirks invariably happen in live performances, and the missed note here and the cough there add to the record's charm. Thompson has rarely sounded as nimble-fingered (on the terrifically show-offy "Roll Over Vaughn Williams") as he does here, nor as emotionally in touch with his songs. Highlights include a heart-tugging rendition of "Down Where the Drunkards Roll," the jokey jig "Woman or a Man," and forceful takes on two Fairport classics, the anthemic "Meet on the Ledge" and the lovely "Genesis Hall." --Mike McGonigal

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CD Reviews

A very rough diamond
Nicholas J. Guetti | 10/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Having previously heard only one Richard Thompson record before this one, I had a lot more to choose from. I picked Small Town Romance because, being a solo fingerstyle acoustic guitarist myself, I especially wanted something I could learn from. To say that I was not disappointed would be a huge understatement, and even after Mock Tudor (see my review of that one) I was more impressed than I expected to be. The only thing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars is the decidedly rough production quality: the vocals are much louder than the precious guitar I especially wanted to listen to, and other listeners might find that important as well, since this is after all just Thompson and his acoustic. However, the bootleggish sound quality and unashamed selection of material (including a couple of nasty throat-clearings from Thompson, who sounds a bit under the weather) are as much strengths as weaknesses: it gives you a chance to hear that Thompson seems incapable of sounding bad, no matter what the circumstances. "Time to Ring Some Changes" is crisp and strong, and an unusually straight protest song for an artist whose songs, even the social commentaries, are usually so deeply personal. "Beat the Retreat", "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" and "Never Again" are achingly sad, heartrendingly sweet and filled with wry love (and all the more honest for the aforementioned throat-clearing). "Honky Tonk Blues", a Hank Williams cover (!), features a bi-octave guitar solo that has so much punch it may FORCE you to dance. The rendition of "The Great Valerio" is spooky and bleak, like being alone in a crowd at a carnival. The Celtic-flavored guitar cross-picking of "How Many Times Do You Have to Fall" is modal, pipey, bittersweet and skillful enough, but right after that comes "Roll Over Vaughan Williams", an unbelievably quick, richly ornamented true Celtic reel that will blast you through the frigging roof! Finally, the Fairport Convention anthem "Meet on the Ledge" is nice to hear; while this rendition of the song lacks the production values of the original Fairport studio version, the track includes a bit of wry (and jokingly rude) Thompson humor at the expense of both himself (as usual) and an audience member: "I swore I'd never [play this song] again, but I'll do it...'cause you're such a fab audience!" Audience laughs, and one member makes an inaudible comment, to which Thompson laughingly replies, "F**k you!""
Fans like it more than the artist does
Nicholas J. Guetti | 06/30/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is a good, but overrated, live set. Thompson himself didn't want it in circulation for years after its short-lived initial release because he was dissatisfied with the album. And he has a point. What's wrong? The songs? No. The performances? Nope. It's just the dull sound that lets it down. Anyone who's seen RT playing acoustic in a club knows how bright and crisp his brilliant guitar playing sounds. For whatever reason, it doesn't come through here. The guitar just isn't recorded well or mixed in proper relation to his singing, and he ends up sounding like an ordinary folk guitarist too much of the time--albeit one with great, cutting songs. So the problem is not so much what it sounds like, but knowing what it *could* have sounded like. So the answer is simple: He needs to record a new acoustic live album. *Then* he can put this one out of print. But for now, it's good to have it, flawed sound and all."
Thompson Live and Unaccompanied
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 12/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There are several reasons for longtime Richard Thompson fans to rejoice at the rerelease of this 1984 album recorded at the Bottom Line and Folk City in New York.1. Many of these songs take on an added emotional quality from the studio versions when presented here by Thompson accompanied only on his own acoustic guitar, especially on songs like "Beat the Retreat." Also, many of these songs were originally sung by Thompson's former wife Linda. Hearing him sing songs like "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" deepen the intensity of the song.2. Thompson is an amazing guitar player, but his studio albums rarely allow him to showcase his skills on the acoustic guitar. Listen especially to "Woman or a Man?" and the instrumental version of "Roll Over Vaughn Williams."3. Other than the box set Watching the Dark (which contains the same version), this live album was the only place you could get the splendid "Small Town Romance."Thompson obviously enjoys playing live and his self-deprecating wit shines through. [He introduces "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight" as being "a medley of our greatest hit."] This CD reissue also adds three bonus tracks: "How Many Times Do I Have To Fall," "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" and "Meet On the Ledge." While there may be a missed note here and there, it is still a joy to hear Thompson in this relaxed setting. RECOMMENDED"