Sunday, September 20, 2009

Richard Thompson - Walking on a Wire (Shout Factory, 2009)

Singer-songwriter and guitar hero Richard Thompson has been well anthologized over the years, which seems to be the fate of the "cult" artist, one whom has a devoted fan base, but never quite breaks through to mass appeal. This four disc set sticks to the basics, mostly previously released studio recordings beginning with Thompson's early music with the pioneering folk-rock band Fairport Convention, and then following through to his collaboration with his then wife Linda and on to to his solo work. It is hard to fault the song selection, which has been done with great care, accenting Thompson the songwriter through classic compositions like "Shoot Out the Lights" and "The Great Valerio." He works the pop idiom as well and with characteristic humor, on the likes of "Tear Stained Letter" and "I Feel So Good." He is also a legendary electric guitarist and the set includes an epic electric guitar workout in "Hard on Me." Some interesting selections from out of print LP's and fan club only releases might make this more appealing to longtime fans who have most of his output already. This set is apparently designed to replace the three disc Watching the Dark anthology which may have fallen out of print, and it will accompany the five disc odds and sods collection RT. The music here is uniformly excellent and certainly makes a convincing case that Thompson has been one of the most consistently creative musicians in either folk music or rock 'n' roll over the past 40 years.
Walking on a Wire -

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