Beeswing Records …………
Back to basics for legendary British folk singer
I like to think of myself as a fan of Richard Thompson; but when push comes to shove I probably only like (love) three albums and another four or five songs from his 30 or so albums spread over 42 years.
‘Why’s that?’ you may ask; well Richard Thompson has constantly reinvented himself during his career; going backwards and forwards inside and outside the British folk scene meaning; much like Neil Young, it’s virtually impossible to like everything.
Thankfully for me the spine of this new album are acoustic versions of his more commercial recordings and therefore pretty much what I like.
ACOUSTIC CLASSICS opens with the unmistakable intro to (IWantToSeeThe) Bright Lights Tonight which was originally recorded with his then wife Linda, only this time it’s a sparse arrangement and only Thompson’s rich voice for accompaniment; and it works on many levels.
This is followed by another song from the same era Walking On A Wire which sounds nothing at all like the original; but fresh and vibrant, which I presume is the idea of the whole album.
We are only three songs in and Richard presents us with a unique reading of one of England’s greatest ever folk songs; Wall Of Death and to hear the powerful way he plays his acoustic guitar while forcing the words out for the umpteenth time is quite staggering.
Alongside the cornerstones of an illustrious career Richard carefully slides in a couple of rarities; of which From Galway To Graceland is simply beautiful. The song originally appeared on the 1993 retrospective as a previously unreleased track; and goes to prove what a truly brilliant songwriter he is if this could remain hidden for a further 20 years.
Myfavourite Thompson song, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning makes an appearance as a quintessential English folk song and includes some of the most intricate acoustic guitar picking you will ever hear; and if more folk music sounded like this I could easily become a fan.
Beeswing is as beautiful as ever but not a million miles away from the original recording; whereas Dimming of the Day; which again goes back to his recording with Linda is simple, warm and beautiful, making it the perfect bookend to a charming retrospective. Alan Harrison