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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 172 - 09/23/10

Richard Thompson
Dream Attic (Deluxe Edition)
Proper Records

Honourable man Richard Thompson hasn't been featured too often in our menus. Only a live-review from 2000 and an essay (sort of) about Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief album from 1969. This, of course, is a shame! Richard is more than a qualified song-smith and has released more albums than most other music biz seniors. A handful with Fairport, a good load of solo albums, ditto with his former wife Linda and several other projects spanning from experimental stuff with Golden Palominos and David Thomas to good old rock'n'roll with folk-rock colleagues in The Bunch a long long time ago. Also our hero is one of the globe's greatest guitarists. I've witnessed him live once, and if I'd had any thorough knowledge of the noble art of guitar playing, I probably would've stood there with the mouth open and gob dripping for the entire show. Now, I only did so for a in between, about every fifth minute. Richard effortlessly plays what one - in the 1960s at least - used to call rhythm guitar and solo guitar simultaneously and sometimes seems to throw in the bass line, too. And he doesn't do it to shine himself; he just plays his guitar as he has learned and developed it, for the songs to shine!

Dream Attic is his first solo album in three years, but it's not an ordinary album as such. It consists of 13 new self-penned songs, but was recorded live with a four piece band in five different music halls on the American west coast last winter. The songs have flavours of British and American folk, rock'n'roll and a little bit of blues, the Richard Thompson way. Songs about lost love and friends, murder, fear of intruders and violence, deceit... and a mock song about Sting. And he hasn't given up hope for new love yet. None of the songs stand out immediately. They need time to grow. First "Big Sun Falling In The River" (why does she turn me down, with an irresistible catchy sing-along chorus) and "If Love Whispers Your Name" (the greatest melancholic folk-tinged ballad of the album) unfolded. Then "Stumble On" (the second greatest melancholic folk-tinged ballad of the album), "Sidney Wells" (modern murder folk-song) and the rest followed suit, except "Bad Again" (the end of an affair) and the opening track "The Money Shuffle" (about our friends at Wall Street), that sound a bit too basic r'n'r.

Richard is backed by a gang of experienced and grey-haired (well, most of them) men as steady as can be. Saxes and fiddle are added to the usual standard instrumentation of popular electric music. But... there is a but. The Deluxe Edition of the album includes a second disc with demo versions of the songs. Here the songs themselves and Richard's acoustic guitar playing stand out even more than on the ordinary album versions. I've fallen completely for this disc and hardly play the electric one any more. Now, if Richard only could relaunch his entire studio back-catalogue in this Deluxe way... And if you'd like to check out the stories from the Dream Attic, it's strongly recommended to seek out the Deluxe Edition.

Copyright © 2010 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Richard Thompson articles/reviews: Acoustic Classics, Cologne, Germany 29.05.2000, Electric, Still.

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