I bought Shoot Out The Lights in 1983.
I’d read rave reviews for the album in three different magazines and decided it was time to check out this Richard & Linda Thompson. When I got home, put the record on the turntable and started listening, the first song, “Don’t Renege On Our Love,” sounded pretty good. When the second song, “Walking On A Wire,” filled the room, I got chills. Serious chills. This was amazing stuff. By the time I’d made it through the other six songs (including “Just The Motion,” the title track, “Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed”) and the last, “Wall Of Death,” hammered out its ending, I was hooked.
But I soon discovered that Richard & Linda were no more. Richard Thompson’s first post-break-up-with-Linda solo album was already on the shelves. Hand of Kindness was a great record, too. It featured incredible songs, a wonderful band and awe-inspiring guitar playing. It was also the first Rock record I’d ever bought with concertina on it.
From there, I found out that Hannibal Records, Richard’s record label, had a mail order catalogue and I could buy earlier Richard & Linda albums and other Richard Thompson solo albums directly from them.
And I did.
Strict Tempo (1981), Sunnyvista (1979), Pour Down Like Silver (1975) and I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974) were soon spinning away on the old Dual.
Then, thanks to my amazing wife, I got to see Richard Thompson in concert for the first time. He and his band (including singer/guitarists Clive Gregson and Christine Collister and John Kirkpatrick on concertina and button accordion) played at the Paradise in Boston, MA, on Nov. 6, 1986 and we were there. That show, even though it was standing-room-only for two hours, ranks in the top 10 of my all-time favorite concert going experiences.
Since then, I’ve seen Richard one more time with a band (in Portland, ME) and five times playing solo with acoustic guitar (at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH; two different venues in Newburyport, MA; and opening for Bonnie Raitt at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom).
Most recently, I had the great, great pleasure of attending his concert this past Friday, August 27, at the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Porstmouth, NH.
It was a solo show and he was promoting a soon-to-be-released new album. So, we got to hear new songs mixed in with a fabulous selection of both well-known and more obscure songs from his 44-year career. (He started in 1966 with the legendary British Folk-Rock band, Fairport Convention. He put out his infamous first solo album, Henry, The Human Fly, in 1972.)
He played guitar and sang at least as well if not better than I’d ever heard him play. And when the person playing guitar and singing is Richard Thompson, that makes for an indescribably awesome evening of music.
There is nobody like him. I can’t recommend him highly enough. If he comes to your town or even close to your town, go see him in concert. If you can’t wait, go buy a CD. If you want to take the plunge, the three CD set Watching The Dark will get you well immersed in his music, both solo and with Linda.
Acoustic & electric guitarist/singer/songwriter/bandleader/performing & recording artist: Richard Thompson.
Another obsession on my list.