Shoot Out the Lightsby Richard & Linda Thompson
Ironically, the final collaboration of Fairport Convention cofounder Richard Thompson and his then-wife Linda marked the artistic high point of their musical collaboration, as well as their commercial breakthrough. Recorded as the pair's marriage was breaking up, the eight-song album is an elegantly crafted yet emotionally raw song cycle that compellingly surveys the darjer margins of the human heart, thanks to Richard's incisive songwriting, searingly inventive guitar work, and brooding vocals, which are balanced by Linda's aching, crystalline delivery. Indeed, the immediacy and empathy of the duo's performances are all the more remarkable in light of the emotionally fraught circumstances of the album's recording. "Don't Renege on Our Love," "Walking on a Wire" and the starkly explosive title track resonate with vulnerability and recrimination, while Linda's remarkably graceful "It's Just the Motion" holds out the solace of acceptance amid life's emotional storms, and Richard's pun-filled "Wall of Death" closes the album on a typically barbed note of hope and resolution.
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Performance CreditsRichard & Linda Thompson Primary Artist
Martin Carthy Background Vocals
Watersons Background Vocals
Clive Gregson Background Vocals
Richard Thompson Dulcimer,Guitar,Accordion,Vocals,Hammered Dulcimer
Simon Nicol Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Dave Pegg Bass
Brian Jones Cornet
Stephen Barnett Trombone
Stephen Corbett Cornet
Mark Cutts Trombone
Phil Goodwin Tuba
Dave Mattacks Drums
Linda Thompson Vocals,Track Performer
Lal Waterson Background Vocals
Mike Waterson Background Vocals
Pete Zorn Bass,Background Vocals
Lal Carthy Background Vocals
Mike Carthy Background Vocals
Norma Carthy Background Vocals
Norma Waterson Background Vocals
Norma Background Vocals
Technical CreditsJoe Boyd Producer
Bill Gill Engineer
Gered Mankowitz Cover Photo
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It has been said that "Shoot Out The Lights", the last album by Richard & Linda Thompson, is also the best. I can understand the fact that it IS the ultimate divorce album, but some songs are really annoying. I used to like it a lot as a little kid...but trying to listen to it again at 16, I don't have the patience to let it grow on me, and, as I said, a few songs (especially "The Back Street Slide") give me a headache. (Hey! If this is such a popular album, how come I'm the first to write a review about it???) So, I guess "Shoot Out The Lights" is the most popular splitsville album, but that's all I'm giving it credit for. It is a popular album, rated high in Rolling Stone magazine, but the songs on this album are nothing to write home about.
This is as fine an album as you will ever hear. The quality of the songwriting and the performances are magnificent. This is far more than a "breakup album." Richard's guitar playing is beautifully nuanced at times searing, at others sublime. Linda's vocals are absolutely gorgeous. The heartfelt nature of her work on "Walking on a Wire" is timeless. Nobody I know who has ever bought this album came to regret it. A stunningly beautiful work.
Richard and Linda Thompson (who made many Wonderful albums together) were on the verge of splitting up personally and professionally as they made this album. One might expect a chaotic album in such circumstances but instead we have one of the most beautifully written collections of heartbreak songs ever written. As Eric Clapton's Layla album was the quintessential expression of romantic longing, Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out The Lights is its polar opposite, yet deserving to sit right along side Layla as a equal in music and emotion.