I normally save General Introduction pages for artists that I know very well and that I feel confident talking about, either because I have their whole discography or a very representative number of albums, but this is an exception. I know virtually no other artist that captivates me the way Richard Thompson does, and if I have just a comparatively small number of his albums (two compilations, his three most recent solo discs and Fairport Convention’s “Unhalfbricking”) is because these records are impossible to find here in Uruguay.
When asked what makes Thompson stand out for me, I always resort to the same answer: he is the more even musician I know. And I quickly add: “even” when it comes to “excellence”. Excellent instrumentalist, excellent lyricist and excellent composer. And while I reckon that his voice is not exactly angelical nobody could say that it does not fit the songs he crafts so profoundly.
I don’t feel comfortable enough detailing his career since I am missing too many key records, but a very succinct overview will do no harm either. He was a founding member of Fairport Convention, considered by many the first folk-rock band that England ever knew. Thompson cut some records with them before leaving to start his own career in 1972. He released a couple of records with his then wife Linda, and when the marriage collapsed and they drifted apart (circa 1981) he carried on his own. He has continued releasing albums to this day.
I dare say that Thompson is my best-loved guitar player. If you have never seen him in action, check this out. It is called “Vincent Black Lightning 1952”, and it is his most requested song:
As if that was not enough, Thompson is a master composer. He pens lyrics that study human nature and its darkest angles by focusing on outlaws and rejects, and studying what happens when human interaction turns into a sort of univocal reaction. His compositions are often in strange keys, too. He also has a penchant for playing mediaeval instruments like dulcimers, hurdy-gurdies and mandolins.
I will make my best to try and find more of his albums. Meanwhile, I will review the ones I have here. Anything that gives me an excuse to spin them all day long is something I cherish.