Richard Thompson has been named one of the best guitarists in the music world, and also the one with the most characteristic sound. It is not that he plays everything very fast or loud, but more that his style is so personally unique and with influences from an eclectic range of sources.
He started his career in the British acoustic folk group Fairport Convention, but quit in 1970 to go solo. He wanted to do more songwriting and felt it was easier to do this on his own. His first CDs weren’t best sellers, but this changed a bit when he started a musical and personal relationship with singer Linda Peters, soon to become Linda Thompson.
Their career slowly evolved, but it was the LP Shoot Out The Lights from 1981 that really relaunched it. At the same time they divorced, but continued to play together for a while. After this, Richard Thompson has played solo, with or without a band. His Richard Thompson Band from the mid 90’s is maybe his most solid one so far.
The band that time consisted of Danny Thompson on bass, drummer Dave Mattacks and acoustic guitarist Pete Zorn, and was a tight and at the same time virtuoso band. I saw the band in 1995, and I still remember that concert as one of the best I have seen. He played songs like 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Dimming Of The Day, Tear-Stained Letter and Turning Of The Tide at that concert, al of them high up on my top Richard Thompson list.
In February Richard Thompson released a new CD, Electric, and at Antone’s during SXSW, he performed many of the songs from this album. Electric is produced by Buddy Miller and recorded in his home studio, and it has a spontaneous feel to it that matches his live performance. I have already got a couple of new favourites from the CD and the concert – My Enemy and Good Things Happen To Bad People.
At Antone’s he had a band with Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums, the same musicians who also played on Electric, and they are on a tour in the US these days. Check out the dates, and make sure to be there when he comes to your city.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.