Time Will Show The Wiser - Fairport Convention, from Fairport Convention
Meet On The Ledge - Fairport Convention, from What We Did On Our Holidays (U.K.), Fairport Convention (U.S.)
Genesis Hall - Fairport Convention, from Unhalfbricking
Crazy Man Michael - Fairport Convention, from Liege & Lief
Sloth - Fairport Convention, from Full House
Roll Over Vaughn Williams, from Starring As Henry The Human Fly
The Poor Ditching Boy, from Starring As Henry The Human Fly
The Angels Took My Racehorse Away, from Starring As Henry The Human Fly
The Great Valerio - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
When I Get To The Border - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Withered And Died - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Down Where The Drunkards Roll - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
The Calvary Cross - Richard & Linda Thompson, from I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
I'll Regret It All In The Morning - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Hokey Pokey
Old Man Inside A Young Man - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Hokey Pokey
For Shame Of Doing Wrong - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Pour Down Like Silver
Night Comes In - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Pour Down Like Silver
Track Listings (17) - Disc #2
Dimming Of The Day/Dargai - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Pour Down Like Silver
A Heart Needs A Home - Richard & Linda Thompson, from (guitar, vocal) (U.K.), Live! (More Or Less) (U.S.)
Don't Let A Thief Steal Into Your Heart - Richard & Linda Thompson, from First Light
Strange Affair - Richard & Linda Thompson, from First Light
Sunnyvista - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Sunnyvista
Sisters - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Sunnyvista
Rockin' In Rhythm, from Strict Tempo!
Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Shoot Out The Lights
Man In Need - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Shoot Out The Lights
Shoot Out The Lights - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Shoot Out The Lights
Wall Of Death - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Shoot Out The Lights
Walking On A Wire - Richard & Linda Thompson, from Shoot Out The Lights
Tear Stained Letter, from Hand Of Kindness
How I Wanted To, from Hand Of Kindness
Hand Of Kindness, from Hand Of Kindness
Beat The Retreat (Live), from Small Town Romance (Live/Solo In New York, 1982)
I Ain't Going To Drag My Feet No More, from Across A Crowded Room
Track Listings (20) - Disc #3
Little Blue Number, from Across A Crowded Room
She Twists The Knife Again, from Across A Crowded Room
Valerie, from Daring Adventures
Turning Of The Tide, from Amnesia
I Still Dream, from Amnesia
Waltzing's For Dreamers, from Amnesia
Read About Love, from Rumor And Sigh
I Feel So Good, from Rumor And Sigh
I Misunderstood, from Rumor And Sigh
1952 Vincent Black Lightning, from Rumor And Sigh
Put Your Trust In Me, from Sweet Talker (Original Soundtrack)
From Galway To Graceland (Live), from Watching The Dark
I Can't Wake Up To Save My Life, from Mirror Blue
MGB-GT, from Mirror Blue
Mingus Eyes, from Mirror Blue
Beeswing, from Mirror Blue
Taking My Business Elsewhere, from Mirror Blue
King Of Bohemia, from Mirror Blue
Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes At Me (Live) - Richard Thompson with Danny Thompson, from Live At Crawley 1993
Razor Dance (Voltage Enhanced), from you? me? us?
Track Listings (16) - Disc #4
Hide It Away (Voltage Enhanced), from you? me? us?
Last Shift - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson, from Industry
Big Chimney - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson, from Industry
Lotteryland - Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson, from Industry
Persuasion (Live), from Celtschmerz (Live UK '98)
Cooksferry Queen, from Mock Tudor
Bathsheba Smiles, from Mock Tudor
Hard On Me (Live), from Semi-Detached Mock Tudor
G ethsemane, from The Old Kit Bag
A Love You Can't Survive, from The Old Kit Bag
A Legal Matter (Live), from 1000 Years Of Popular Music
Main Title From Grizzly Man Grizzly Man (Original Soundtrack)
Al Bowlly's In Heaven (Live), from Live From Austin TX
I'll Never Give It Up, from Sweet Warrior
Dad's Gonna Kill Me, from Sweet Warrior
She Sang Angels To Rest, from Rest Sweet Warrior
The Definitive Career-Spanning Collection in a Deluxe 4-CD Set. The new 4-CD set Walking On A Wire: 1968-2009 covers every phase of Richard Thompson's career, beginning with the trail-blazing folk-rock group Fairport Conv... more »ention, to his duo albums with then-wife Linda Thompson, as well as his 20-plus years as a critically acclaimed solo artist. The songs chosen for this selection of his box set were carefully assembled and cover a wide range of styles -- rock 'n' roll with folk, jazz, rockabilly and the odd waltz and soundtrack theme thrown in -- the scope of his songwriting, and the sheer virtuosity of his playing. Compiled by Richard Thompson himself, Walking On A Wire includes material from every album he has released. Named one of the Top 20 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone, the British folk-rock legend is one of the world's most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. Thompson's songs have been covered by R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, and many others.« less
The Definitive Career-Spanning Collection in a Deluxe 4-CD Set. The new 4-CD set Walking On A Wire: 1968-2009 covers every phase of Richard Thompson's career, beginning with the trail-blazing folk-rock group Fairport Convention, to his duo albums with then-wife Linda Thompson, as well as his 20-plus years as a critically acclaimed solo artist. The songs chosen for this selection of his box set were carefully assembled and cover a wide range of styles -- rock 'n' roll with folk, jazz, rockabilly and the odd waltz and soundtrack theme thrown in -- the scope of his songwriting, and the sheer virtuosity of his playing. Compiled by Richard Thompson himself, Walking On A Wire includes material from every album he has released. Named one of the Top 20 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone, the British folk-rock legend is one of the world's most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. Thompson's songs have been covered by R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, and many others.
Superb career overview
T. Korol | Rochester, NY | 08/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who is reading this? If you are an RT fan, as I have been since Fairport days, was your first reaction the same as mine: why? I mean, I have every song in this box set on some other cd(s). But I had to have it anyway (as another review noted). It is a great career overview, the recording is pristine - these songs have never sounded better. And when I play RT now I tend to gravitate to his live releases. So I am really enjoying re-visiting these great songs. I would recommend this for the sound quality alone.
If you are not a big fan, or have heard the hype but do not really know his music, it is all warranted. Fairport Convention was a "folk rock" band from the 60's. (I italicize that because they were really so much more). There are only a few songs from this period here. (The box set A Fairport History has a much more comprehensive selection of RT from this period). The tracks here range from the upbeat rock of Time Will Show the Wiser to the folk of Genesis Hall and Crazy Man Michael to the long dirge Sloth, with it's ending guitar workout, RT already showing his chops (and Dave Swarbick adding his usual astounding fiddle). Then a couple tracks from RT's 1st solo effort, which was a great mish mosh of styles (in a good way).
His next period after leaving Fairport was with his wife Linda Thompson. This era produced some of the finest adult rock music ever. The songs are quite varied, acoustic and electric, happy and sad. Actually, together they recorded (lyrically) some of the most realistic love songs I have heard: Walking on a Wire; The Great Valerio; Did She Jump or Was She Pushed; Withered and Died; For Shame of Doing Wrong. This is not greasy kid stuff. These are mature songs for folks whose hearts have been around the block a few times and know the joy and pain of love. RT's lyrics really hit home in expressing these emotions. Balancing these are more upbeat rockers: When I Get to the Border, Calvary Cross, Bright Lights, Wall of Death and Sunnyvista. I am not listing every track, but this period was really strong, RT maturing both as a guitarist and songwriter. And having LT and RT trading vocals added to its strength. Richards playing is generally a showcase for restrained, "smart" guitar. Hero guitar for the thinking person. The electric pyrotechnics are there, but on record he does not go for the epic workouts his live shows are known for. And his acoustic work, well, everytime I close my eyes I hear 2 or 3 guitarists. No, it is not double tracked recording. For the uninitiated, check out the song Shoot Out the Lights (and the CD). Powerful, riveting, frightful, the sound of despair and loneliness at the breaking point with some jaw dropping guitar work. This was recorded as he and Linda's relationship was falling apart, and it is all documented in song. Brilliant.
After their breakup came his long and continuing solo career. Again, it the the variety of songs which is compelling. The common thread is the smart, adult lyrics, many of which all have a touch of cynicism. As well as the guitar. I could not possibly go through all the tracks. There are a lot of uptempo "rockers": Tear Stained Letter (one of his classics), Turning of the Tide, Valerie, I Feel so Good (..."I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight"), Razor Dance, Dad's Gonna Kill Me, Cooksferry Queen. Then the ballads which tell a story: the heartbreaking and fan favorite 1952 Vincent Black Lightening (lightening would be a good metaphor for his guitar work in this, eh?), Beeswing, Al Bowlly's in Heaven, Persuasion. Heck, there are just so many great songs here. The cynicism of She Twists the Knife Again; the poignent I Still Dream and Waltzing for Dreamers; the melancholic confession of I Misunderstood; the achingly lovely She Sang the Angels to Rest. Folks, every song here is truly great. And throughout this period RT always has had a great collection of backup musicians, Pete Zorn and Danny Thompson (no relation) prominent amoung them.
So, if you do not know RT, this is a great place to start, and perhaps all you will need. (His first 3-cd "box" has many of the same songs but balances this release nicely in that it includes a few essentials that are not here. The second box of unreleased stuff is essential for fans, but not the place to start if you are new to RT.)
Top twenty guitarist of all time? I love how rock magazines and critics have to rank things. If you, as I, have seen RT live both acoustic and electric he is beyond compare. Sure, there are other guitarists just as "great", though with different styles. How do you compare them? You cannot. But the things RT is capable of doing and his mastery of both the electric and acoustic are unparalled. One thing this box lacks, with one exception, is any of his epic live guitar workouts. I have seen him drop jaws many times with Shoot Out the Lights, Calvary Cross, Can't Win, Jerusalem on the Jukebox, Night Comes In, and others. (On his 2nd box set box I always had issue with the "guitar workouts" included on it; I have dozens better on numerous bootlegs). But here, we do get one gem: Hard on Me. I saw him do this a couple of years ago at the Tralf in Buffalo, and words cannot describe the workout he exercises on this song. I watched his hands so carefully, but the notes, the bends, it was all a blur of virtuosity. Again for the uninitiated, this song (especially the last 5 minutes) is a perfect example why RT has the reputation he does. (For further proof listen to the aforementioned acoustic work on 1952 Vincent Black Lightening). I kind of wish they included a couple more of these live killers, but, oh well, whatever, never mind.
Yeah, there are some favorites I would have like to have seen included, but I am not even going to bother listing them. RT picked this set, so who I am to quibble? I will echo another review: you gotta have this release. I love music and love lots of different kinds of music, but I cannot think of another box set that is top to bottom this good. Thanks Shout Factory. While Rhino still does a few good things, I appreciate that there are some labels that consistently get it right. Shout Factory is one of them. Attention all mature adults seeking intelligent rock written just for them: go buy this and enjoy it!"
RT selects his best
Kevin D. Rathert | Carbondale, IL | 08/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson is without question one of the world's greatest guitarists. Box sets are nothing new for Thompson. Rykodisc released the 3 cd "Watching The Dark" in 1993, Free Reed released "RT" a 5 cd totally unreleased set in the mid 2000s, and now the wonderful people at Shout Factory have added Thompson to the list of musicians they have honored with boxed sets. Thomposon himself along with former Rhino producer David McLees produced this 71 track compilation. The immaculate digital remastering was done by former Rhino sound man Bob Fisher. While both the 3 and 5 disc Thompson sets shone due to the number of previously unreleased tracks, "Walking On A Wire" shines because it contains selections from all 34 albums released by Thompson between 1968 and 2007. This means numerous albums by Fairprort Convention, several lps done with ex-wife Linda Thompson, and many solo Thompson efforts. The result is an amazing amalgamation of musical presentations. It appears that if an instrument has strings Thompson is a master of it. The same can be said of all the different musical styles presented in "Walking On A Wire." Rated as the 20th greatest guitarist by Rolling Stone magazine, Thompson certainly proves the point here. From gentle folk to full blown rock and roll and everything in between Thompson shines on each and every track. Some may complain at the lack of unreleased material, but to them I say, buy this set, give it a listen, and I dare you to say the tunes have ever sounded so good. And unless you own each and every album individually this set should be absolutely essential to your collection. A true musician's musician, Thompson doesn't have a big name, has never the fame he so richly deserves, and in fact seems to have done everything in his power to remain out of the limelight. Well his time to shine is at hand. Shout Factory has once again outdone themselves. If you enjoy British folk music, or appreciate guitar prowess this set is definitely for you. Most definitely."
Absolutely the best intro to the genius of Richard Thompson
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Thompson has been the recipient of a rare honor, a third box set while still at the height of his powers and while still producing quality original music. But I think the case for this particular box set is strong. The first two box sets were not intended for people unfamiliar with Richard Thompson's music, but for long-term fans. Both WATCHING THE DARK and RT contained scads of performances not previously released, and relatively few of his familiar great songs. WALKING ON A WIRE, on the other hand, has virtually all of Thompson's finest music, whether with Fairport Convention, with his ex-wife Linda, or from his solo career. This instantly becomes the number one Richard Thompson album, the one essential introduction to his genius.
I sort of miss the late seventies and early eighties, when some of us who were huge fans could shock people who were unfamiliar with his work by playing them a few of his best songs. Rolling Stone put is well a few years later upon the re-release of several of his best albums, including I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT. They asked people to imagine never having heard of artists of the caliber of Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Hendrix, or Pete Townshend, but that their albums were suddenly released out of nowhere. That was what they compared the release of several of Thompson's best albums twenty years ago. Thompson is astonishing on three levels. First, he is a shockingly great guitarist, admired by his fellow musicians everywhere. Second, he is one of the most acclaimed songwriters in music, his songs performed by many of the world's finest musicians. Third, he is a highly accomplished singer, able to sing his and others' compositions with tremendous passion. As a guitarist, he has few peers. For those who define great guitarists in terms of speed he may not be as impressive as some, but if you define brilliance in terms of musical innovation, he is, in my opinion, the best guitarist since Jimi Hendrix. The musical combinations he comes up sometimes are jaw dropping. His long solos, which he mainly saves for live performances, are astonishing. He might play, for instance, a solo that lasts for two minutes during which he plays continuously two strings at a time. His prowess is so extreme that even the abysmally silly Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists rated him #19 (something that probably embarrassed those in front of him, who all know they can't carry his guitar pick). If you listen to the two solos he plays on the otherwise pretty average song "Hard on Me" from MOCK TUDOR, you hear guitar playing that seems to come from an alternative dimension. Much of the uniqueness of his guitar playing stems from his basing much of his chords on the English folk tradition rather than, unlike nearly every other rock guitarist, American blues. The most impressive thing about Thompson as a guitarist is that he is always willing to subjugate his guitar pyrotechnics to the songs. If the guitar doesn't enhance the song, he doesn't play something merely to be impressive.
Perhaps Thompson's only weakness is that his songs are better than his albums. By that I mean that Thompson has written scores of great songs, but he has few truly great albums. Even his very best albums have weak songs on them. On the other hand, even his worst albums have some great songs. For instance, on YOU? ME? US?, generally considered one of Thompson's worst albums, there is one of my favorite Thompson songs, the heartbreaking "She Cut Off Her Long Silken Hair." As a result, his songs are stronger than his albums. Sadly, before now there was never a single collection that put Thompson at his best on display. And Thompson is hardly the only great song writer who potentially is better represented by an anthology than by individual albums. Leonard Cohen has some truly weak albums that nonetheless have some stunning individual songs. This collection shows Thompson at his very vest and it puts his virtues and major quirks as a songwriter. One of the great paradoxes of his songwriting is that he is in concert a funny, warm, compelling, endearing individual, while many of his songs are thunderingly depressing. The most extreme example may be "The End of the Rainbow," a song off I WANT TO SEE TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT, in which the singer addresses a small baby as "a little horror" and after recounting the ways that his or her life situation is a nightmare, tells it in the chorus, "There's nothing at the end of the rainbow/There's nothing to grow up for anymore." In one of the greatest songs -- "Shoot Out the Lights" -- on his and Linda's finest album, he depicts a murderous/suicidal man in the throes of despair. In another song on that same album someone wonders if a person who died was the victim of a suicide or a murder. The darkness of his songs is shown in his first box set, WATCHING THE DARK. When you see Thompson in concert of you hear him interviewed, he comes across as someone passionately in love with life, someone filled with the joy of living. You end up wondering if he is masking a despairing view of life through his light-hearted banter or uses his bleak songs as cathartic release. But alongside the despair are also songs of such heartbreaking beauty that they can sometimes be overwhelming. "Dimming of the Day" is an extraordinarily gorgeous song, one that can function as either a love song to someone who keeps the singer's life from falling to bits (as performed by Richard and Linda or by the Coors or by Emmylou Harris) or a burning blues (as performed by Albert Lee or Bonnie Raitt) or even a hymn (as performed by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, in perhaps my favorite version of the song). (That song also shows up in a surprisingly effective version as part of the diegetic music as performed by diegetic in John Sayles's film LIMBO).
In the past I recommended that anyone interested in learning more about Richard Thompson buy a number of his best discs. A basic Richard Thompson album would consist of UNHALFBRICKING and LIEGE AND LIEF; from his period with Linda I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT and the great classic SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS (and if those please, HOKEY POKEY and POUR DOWN LIKE SILVER); and from his solo period HAND OF KINDNESS, AMNESIA, MOCK TUDOR, and FRONT PALOUR BALLADS. But even at that it leaves out too many great songs. Granted even WALKING ON A WIRE leaves off a lot of great songs, but it leaves off a lot less than buy any 8 or 9 individual Richard Thompson albums. This is not just the best entry into the music of Richard Thompson, it is one of the finest albums you can possibly get.
Finally, I want to address a trend in some mainstream reviews of the album (though not by my fellow reviewers here on Amazon). Some reviewers have complained that the album contains nothing that hasn't been released before. Well, precisely! The one great lack in the discography of Richard Thompson has been a collection of his best work. As I mentioned above, the first two boxed sets focused on previously unreleased material. To complain that a third box set is flawed because it doesn't contain previously unreleased material seems simply absurd. Such a box would not have filled a need. This one does."
Superfluous & Essential
attentive listener | Joysey | 08/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those already heavily invested in RT recordings this may be unnecessary. I had the early Fairport stuff, the (guitar, vocal) compilation, the Watching the Dark compilation, the Live at Crawley 1993 set with Danny Thompson and Mirror Blue. This fact put me right on the fence. Watching the Dark really covering some of the best material on this set. Mirror Blue is also well covered here. That being said, this set really has an edge in a couple of regards. Discs filled to the brim with well chosen tracks, chronilogically sequenced, for one. The first rate remastering being another. For me the deciding factor was all the newer material that I did not already have and the price being reasonable. This is a nice encapsulation of a musical journey worth hearing. If you're already invested, go see this guy, "live", again. One way or another, get your RT on. His talent, these songs, they are a deserving tandem. Cheers."
A very complete overview
William M. Feagin | Salem, MA | 10/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now, like some, I have to admit there are a few gripes - why, for example, did they not include "When the Spell is Broken" from Across a Crowded Room? I would have preferred that track to "Little Blue Number," but this is really a minor quibble, on the whole. Everything here is essential RT material, from the early Fairport tracks to the most recent studio cuts from Sweet Warrior; I found the inclusion of tracks from his and Linda's two Chrysalis albums (First Light and Sunnyvista) to be most welcome, as neither is currently in print, and even finding many of the Capitol albums (beyond just the Action Packed anthology, Rumor and Sigh or Mock Tudor) can be a dodgy affair.
So yes, I would like to have seen "When the Spell is Broken" and possibly "Layla" (not the Clapton song) from First Light included, and there is nothing featured from Front Parlour Ballads, but if you have most of the albums already, it may not be entirely necessary. The remastering job here is excellent, however, the track production details not so much. But for someone looking for a solid career-spanning overview of Richard Thompson, Walking on a Wire is otherwise perfect. Well done, Shout! Factory."