Recommended Albums #21

Rumor & Sigh

Richard Thompson: Rumor and Sigh (1991)

For the uninitiated, Richard Thompson is, quite literally, a legendary British singer, songwriter and guitar god. His renown is somewhat limited outside circles of fans of British folk rock, but catalog is rich with musical treasures waiting for those of eclectic tastes to explore.

Thompson was the teenage lead guitarist and contributing songwriter with the iconic folk rock band Fairport Convention, where he made a huge impact despite his limited time with the band. Shortly after going solo, he made a series of highly regarded albums with his then-wife Linda, herself a leading light of the English folk rock movement. Two of their albums, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Shoot Out the Lights made Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the Top 500 Albums of All Time.

After his early 80’s breakup with Linda, Richard again recorded alone, and Rumor and Sigh is a highlight of his solo career. There’s lots to like here, from RT’s twisted, acerbic outlook, often presented through the point of view of a made-up character (a la Pete Townshend) to catchy almost radio-friendly hooks, to his incredible virtuosity on acoustic and electric guitar, to songwriting of the highest caliber.

“I Feel So Good” is sung from the viewpoint of a newly-freed inmate looking to make someone pay for the time he lost. “Keep Your Distance” is an acknowledgment of weakness in the face of an old love (with us it must be all or none at all). And “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is nothing short of a modern folk classic–the tale of an ill-fated relationship between a red-headed girl, a hell-bent boy, and his prized bike–featuring some of Thompson’s finest acoustic picking.

If you appreciate intelligent rock with an English flavour and aren’t yet familiar with this man’s work, allow me to hold the door for you: you’re about to enter a dark wonderland…

Listen to: “I Feel So Good”

 

Listen to: “Keep Your Distance”

 

Listen to: “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”

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