In 1981, the Thompsons recorded their last and best album together, as their marriage was crumbling. So, even though some of the material dated to a couple of years prior, during happier times, R.T. was never big on traditional love songs; thus, the tension in the lyrics only fueled the intensity of the performances.
Amazingly, upon the release of the LP in ’82 – their marriage over, Linda having just given birth to daughter Kamila – the couple mounted their onlyU.S.tour. This generous edition presents a live disc of 11 tracks from that tour with a remastered disc of the original album and a 40-page booklet of photos and reminiscences from the couple, producer Joe Boyd, and members of the band.
As Linda writes in her capsule descriptions of the album cuts, “Great solo (just take that as read on every track; otherwise I’ll get bored repeating it).” She was referring to “Walking On A Wire,” but she could have been speaking of any of Richard’s guitar breaks here – simultaneously singing and crying, at once spontaneous and perfectly constructed (perhaps because, Thompson says, they approached the recording as live and fast as possible, like an onstage performance).
His jagged, stinging solo on the title track, inspired byRussia’s invasion ofAfghanistan, is as scary as the lyrics – equally so on the live version, even though Linda had exited the tour by that point, after earlier drunken outbursts that reportedly included kicking Richard in the shins while he was soloing. Despite all the drama, the men stuck in the middle – drummer Dave Mattacks, rhythm guitarist Simon Nicol, and bassist Pete Zorn – soldiered on like champs. Listen to them help push Thompson ever higher on the outro solo to “For Shame Of Doing Wrong.”
All in all, a remarkable document.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.
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