Richard Thompson has always been an idiosyncratic musician, and the release of this CD finds him at perhaps his most eccentric – and creative. In fact, this CD was too far out for Capitol, who has released several of Thompson’s recent…err, mainstream, discs; Capitol passed on it, and Hannibal/Rykodisc happily snatched it up.
Teamed with his long-time friend, bassist Danny Thompson, of Pentangle, the duo have crafted a musical history of the effects of industrialization on their native England. The 11 songs form a sort of opera, and the lyrics and instrumentation all speak to the darkness of the theme. Joining the Thompsons are musicians on a wide variety of instruments, from flutes and violins to a cor anglais and several varieties of pipes. In the end, this is a fascinating album, showing another, unexpected side of Richard Thompson’s musical personality.
If you are looking to truly psychoanalyze that personality, the label also has Watching the Dark, a three-CD “history” of Thompson, from his early Fairport Convention Days through his fruitful collaboration with Linda Thompson, and up to his 1993 solo album, Rumor and Sigh. Along the way, this collection includes unreleased live songs and other rarities, as well as an excellent booklet packed with detailed liner notes. Highly recommended.
Other recent releases include B.B. King’s Live at the Regal (MCA), now digitally remastered for CD. MCA has also released a digitally remastered version of Elton John’s middle-period two-CD, Blue Moves , featuring the tough guitar work of Davey Johnstone.
The recent wave of hot acoustic blues albums by young black musicians continues with Corey Harris’ second release, Fish Ain’t Bitin’ (Alligator), which is a worthy follow-up to his impressive debut, Between Midnight and Day. Playing stinging slide on both six and 12-string guitar, Guy Davis has also released a sophomore CD, Call Down the Thunder (Red House), that evokes many of the same Delta blues muses as Davis’ live debut, Stomp Down Rider.
If you are a Spanish guitar fan, check out Gypsy Passion (Narada), a collection of new flamenco showcasing the label’s impressive roster of guitarists, including Jesse Cook, Oscar Lopez, Strunz and Farah, Ottmar Liebert, and more.
Last, but far from least, White Clay Records has collected some of the best of Southern rockers on a LIVE Down South. This live CD features two cuts each by classic boogie bands like Dixie Dregs, Wet Willie, Allman Brothers, Sea Level, Elvin Bishop, and Stillwater.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’97 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.