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RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson

RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson

5.0 1
by Richard Thompson
Given the length, breadth, and impact of his career as, arguably, the most revered figure in British folk-rock since he first joined Fairport Convention in 1967, it's no surprise that Richard Thompson has been honored with the multi-disc box set treatment not once, but twice. In 1993, noted Thompson, aficionado


Given the length, breadth, and impact of his career as, arguably, the most revered figure in British folk-rock since he first joined Fairport Convention in 1967, it's no surprise that Richard Thompson has been honored with the multi-disc box set treatment not once, but twice. In 1993, noted Thompson, aficionado Edward Haber compiled Watching the Dark, three CD's worth of album cuts, unreleased studio outtakes, and rare live performances which offered a detailed chronicle of Thompson's career in music. However, not all fans were entranced with the set, and Neil Wayne and Nigel Schofield of the noted British folk label Free Reed Music sought Thompson's participation to create RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson, a massive five-disc set culled primarily from unreleased recordings taken from Thompson's own archives and accompanied by a 168-page book which includes an exclusive in-depth interview with the man himself. While RT is obviously a tremendous labor of love and a powerful testimony to Thompson's genius as a songwriter and guitarist, compared to Watching the Dark it's something of a disappointment. While the notion of five CD's worth of rare and unreleased Richard Thompson recordings is enough to make nearly any loyalist salivate, nearly all the cuts are live tapes of highly variable recording quality; though most sound "fresh off the board," an uncomfortably high percentage are scarred by noticeable technical anomalies (in particular boomy audience recordings and distorted radio broadcasts), and the 1972 recording of "The Great Valerio" from a Richard & Linda Thompson concert would barely be acceptable even by bootleg standards. (In all fairness, the booklet acknowledges the poor quality of the latter recording.) Also, given Free Reed's leanings as a folk imprint, it's not surprising the set leans heavily on Thompson's solo acoustic performances rather than his electric full-band repertoire, and while the solo stuff here is almost uniformly splendid, the proportions are certainly off in terms of giving an accurate picture of his body of work, especially disc three, which promises a set of "Epic Live Workouts" but which leans towards acoustic numbers with extended solos rather than the electric explorations that are truly Thompson's most remarkable live achievements. And though Nigel Schofield's liner notes offer an intelligent and impassioned appreciation of Thompson's work, the notes on the tracks themselves are less impressive, and the details on the source materials are often lacking or simply inaccurate (there are no Who covers on any of my copies of Shoot Out the Lights, no matter what Schofield says). None of this should suggest that RT isn't worth a listen -- simply put, Richard Thompson is one of the finest singers, guitarists, and songwriters to emerge in the second half of the 20th century, and there are dozens of dazzling examples of Thompson in full-flight here. Even when the audio is faulty, the performances are sterling, and there are a number of genuine rarities on-board, particularly on disc five, which features precious studio demos of a number of unreleased songs, including the haunting "Bad News Is All the Wind Can Carry," "Shady Lies," and "In Over Your Head." For all its flaws, RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson will leave no one with any doubt about the strength of this man's talent. Obsessive fans will find much to revel in, but overall RT seems like a grand opportunity that didn't quite pan out, despite a wealth of good intentions.

Product Details

Release Date:
Free Reed Us Release

Related Subjects


Disc 1

  1. Now That I Am Dead
  2. Genesis Hall
  3. Josef Locke
  4. Willy O'Winsbury
  5. Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands
  6. Nobody's Wedding
  7. Madonna's Wedding
  8. Walking the Long Miles Home
  9. Withered and Died
  10. Beat the Retreat
  11. The Great Valerio
  12. Walking on a Wire
  13. Never Again
  14. The End of the Rainbow
  15. King of Bohemia
  16. Killerman Gold Posse
  17. Lotteryland
  18. Now Be Thankful
  19. Shoot out the Lights
  20. Outside of the Inside

Disc 2

  1. I Feel So Good
  2. Push and Shove
  3. Time to Ring Some Changes
  4. Cooksferry Queen
  5. Waltzing's for Dreamers
  6. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  7. I Misunderstood
  8. Meet on the Ledge
  9. Down Where the Drunkards Roll
  10. Gethsemane
  11. Tear-Stained Letter
  12. Wall of Death
  13. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
  14. From Galway to Graceland
  15. Crazy Man Michael
  16. Dimming of the Day
  17. Beeswing

Disc 3

  1. Valerie
  2. Don't Let a Thief Steal into Your Heart
  3. Ghosts in the Wind
  4. Crash the Party
  5. For Shame of Doing Wrong
  6. Calvary Cross
  7. Sloth
  8. Night Comes In
  9. Drowned Dog, Black Night
  10. Put It There, Paul
  11. Morris Medley: Flying Saucers/Rock 'N' Roll

Disc 4

  1. Substitute
  2. Tempted
  3. (The Story Of) Hamlet
  4. Oops, I Did It Again
  5. Ça Plane Pour Moi
  6. Why Don't Women Like Me?
  7. Time Has Told Me
  8. Shenandoah
  9. Danny Boy
  10. Move It
  11. Willie & The Hand Jive/Not Fade Away
  12. Loch Lomond
  13. Job of Journeywork
  14. Napoleon's Dream
  15. Sally Rackett
  16. God Loves a Drunk
  17. The Angels Took Me Racehorse Away
  18. Poseidon
  19. Wall of Death
  20. You'll Never Walk Alone
  21. I Ain't Marching Anymore
  22. The Who Medley: My Generation/Can't Explain/Substitute

Disc 5

  1. Albion Sunrise
  2. How Many Times Do You Have to Fall
  3. Bad News Is All the Wind Can Carry
  4. Mrs. Rita
  5. Shady Lies
  6. Lucky Life, Unlucky in Love
  7. Dragging the River
  8. Alexander Graham Bell
  9. Someone Else's Fancy
  10. Modern Woman
  11. Woman or a Man
  12. My Daddy Is a Mummy
  13. You Got What You Wanted
  14. In Over Your Head
  15. Dear Janet Jackson

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Richard Thompson   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Andy Irvine   Arranger
Dave Swarbrick   Composer
Nick Drake   Composer
Phil Ochs   Composer
Clive Gregson   Composer
Richard Thompson   Composer
Pete Townshend   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Bono   Composer
Allison Chernow   Producer
Christine Collister   Composer
Chris Difford   Composer
John French   Composer
Edward Haber   Producer,Engineer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Ian Samwell   Composer
Glenn Tilbrook   Composer
Ilana Pelzig Cellum   Producer,Engineer
Alex MacFarlane   Composer
Neil Wayne   Producer
Traditional   Composer
Nigel Schofield   Author

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RT: The Life and Music of Richard Thompson 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many reviews, including the one printed on this page, focus on the disappointment suffered by fans who purchased the Watching the Dark anthology. I,on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed that release. I was new to Thompson at the time and caught up fast. In the interim, I have collected a majority of his releases and seen him in concert a few--too few--times. This collection captures Richard Thompson's essence quite well. The tracks are put together by a man with a desire to truly get it right. He fulfills that desire. It is an expensive proposition this boxed set. Have faith. It will be rewarded. You will find yourself going back to it again and again.