Richard Thompson Walking On A Wire 1968-2009

Richard ThompsonWalking On A Wire 1968-2009
It's hard to conceive of an artist warranting a four-disc retrospective when they've had no certifiable hits but such is the case when you're one of rock'n'roll's true cult heroes. Although Richard Thompson is widely acknowledged as one of the finest songwriters and guitarists of his generation, the unique traits that have created his unshakable following have also been his biggest obstacle, in terms of Thompson holding the place alongside Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Elvis Costello he richly deserves. Beginning with Fairport Convention, Thompson melded Americana with traditional British folk's mysticism and more significantly — once he began chipping in his own compositions — the dour working-class realities of its more modern variants. Since the Fairports never moved beyond their original folk rock experiments, Thompson's voice didn't truly emerge until his first solo album, Henry The Human Fly, which possessed a perspective (if not an actual sound) that predated punk by at least five years. By then, Thompson was collaborating with wife Linda and their first co-production, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, remains a flawless collection built upon misplaced middleclass dreams. From that point on, the Thompsons' turn toward Islam alienated some of their core following. That is until their final joint effort, 1982's Shoot Out The Lights, which is still rightly lauded as the finest breakup record since Blood On The Tracks. Most crucially, that album was embraced by U.S. college radio and Thompson's subsequent move to L.A. ushered in the next phase of his career, which in many ways continues to this day. While every album since Shoot Out The Lights has failed to match it, in terms of outright drama, there has never been a shortage of unforgettable moments at each step along the way (i.e., "Tear Stained Letter," "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and "Beeswing"). This makes Walking On A Wire essential for anyone looking to start exploring Thompson's vast catalogue, although hardcore fans — and with Thompson there are no other kind — will already know this material intimately. (Shout! Factory)