I mentioned in passing the other day in my Dave Swarbrick MPC that Richard Thompson was due for one. Most of you are probably asking who the hell Richard Thompson is.
Well, I’ll tell you. He’s a brilliant songwriter who was a founding member of British folk-rock’s greatest band, Fairport Convention. Two of Thompson’s albums that he put out with his first wife, Linda, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight and Shoot Out The Lights, are among the finest rock albums ever produced, regardless of genre.
Thompson is also likely to be the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.
Back in my college days, I’d have friends who would dismiss my love for folk-rock, calling it wimpy and boring. In response, I’d pull out a couple of albums and play some of RT’s work. Invariably, I’d get reactions like, “hey, man, that’s good”, “I had no idea” and, of course, “got anymore?”. (The highlight for me was when I caught one of my fourth-year roommates making the same demonstration to someone else.)
Anyway, here’s an example of his stellar work. It’s a song he wrote in the late ’80s, “Can’t Win”. It’s always been a guitar vehicle when he’s performed it live. This is my favorite version of that. The song takes a while to build, so be patient. The fireworks start after the four-minute mark.
If you can’t say “wow” after that…