The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151140 Message #3525101
Posted By: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
11-Jun-13 - 04:18 AM
Thread Name: Richard Thompson: Master Tapes Radio4
Subject: RE: Richard Thompson: Master Tapes Radio4
I should probably give this a listen even though I never liked 'Rumour and Sigh' very much. In fact it was the last new Richard Thompson record I bought and I'd bought everything he brought out up to that point.
I always felt that after the split with Linda an undercurrent of misogyny crept into his writing, starting with 'Hand of Kindness'. There's quite a lot of that on 'Rumour and Sigh', in my view. And he's never tackled subjects like alcoholism (God Loves A Drunk)or politics (Mother Knows Best - there's that misogyny again!) with the insight or subtlety of other writers. I still can't listen to 'Psycho Street'.
Plus when he was working with Linda (and before that, with Sandy Denny) he had someone else's voice to write for. That, for me, was when he produced most of his best work. He got a lot wordier in his lyric writing after that, as well. Compare the economy of songs like 'Beat The Retreat' or 'Dimming Of The Day' with the later stuff like 'Beeswing' or '1952 Black Lightning' - the later songs don't, for me, give the listener's imagination space to fill in the blanks, which is what I always liked about his earlier stuff.
He still hits the bullseye occasionally - 'Keep Your Distance', from 'Rumour and Sigh', is one of his best songs, for me, as is 'King of Bohemia'.
There's a brilliant essay by George Orwell called (I think) 'The Benefit Of Clergy'. It's ostensibly about Salvador Dali but it discusses how certain artists get to a point in their careers where they become almost exempt from normal critical standards - they become icons, and any opinion that is less than reverent becomes a form of heresy.
Thompson has arguably attained that status for folkies, as have Christy Moore, Martin Carthy, June Tabor, Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan and a whole raft of artists of that generation. Not their fault - I suppose our generation of folkie-inclined punters like to feel secure in our admiration for people we've been listening to all our adult lives. It all just feels a bit - well, safe, I suppose. Maybe that's only to be expected at our age.