RICHARD THOMPSON – 13 Rivers (Proper Records PRPCD150)

13 RiversFollowing three excursions into his back catalogue in a solo acoustic format, Richard Thompson is back doing the other thing he does best. Electric guitar in hand and backed by the other two members of his trio, Michael Jerome and Taras Prodaniuk, plus guitarist Bobby Eichorn he returns with 13 Rivers, a set of dark, intense songs sequenced, as Richard puts it, with the “weird stuff” at the beginning.

The first of the weird stuff is ‘The Storm Won’t Come’. As with most Richard Thompson songs it will take me a while to get to the bottom of this. Ostensibly, it is about the desire to clear away the rot of modern civilisation, but it also seems to be about the despair of someone looking at the mess we’ve made of things. Of course, I could be wrong on both counts. Jerome’s drums pound and Thompson’s guitar rides spikily over the verses – you can almost see the dark clouds gather. ‘The Rattle Within’ is again built on Jerome’s percussion and is a vehicle for one of Richard’s angrier solos.

‘Her Love Was Meant For Me’ features Eichorn’s guitar as a counterpoint and seems to hark back to the style of some of Richard’s earlier songs. ”Like a razor to a scarecrow, her love was meant for me” – what a line! ‘Bones Of Gilead’ starts with bass and choppy guitar and, one again with this song, I need more time with it. Does the mention of London Pride refer to the plant or the beer? The bluesy ‘The Dog In You’ may be the first of the tracks described by Richard as designed to “grind your soul into submission” and boasts another superb but restrained solo to play it out.

Richard works his band with great skill with Prodaniuk’s bass throbbing underneath the songs and the drums powering them forward.  Although 13 Rivers is stripped back to its rock basics the sound is full and Richard’s production is as varied as his lyrical ideas. The chiming guitar that introduces ‘My Rock, My Rope’ and all of ‘O Cinderella’ both stopped me in my tracks when I reached them.

Whether I count this as one of Richard’s greatest albums will take me a while to decide – it always does. I do know that I find it more and more absorbing as it goes on

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist’s website: www.richardthompson-music.com

‘Bones Of Gilead’:

Richard Thompson: new album in September

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is set to return with 13 Rivers on September 14, via Proper Records. The thirteen-song set is the Grammy nominated artist’s first self-produced album in over a decade and was recorded 100% analogue in just ten days.  It was engineered by Clay Blair (The War On Drugs) and features Thompson’s regular accompanists Michael Jerome (drums, percussion), Taras Prodaniuk (bass), and Bobby Eichorn (guitar).

13 Rivers is a bare-bones, emotionally direct album that speaks from the heart with no filters.  “There are 13 songs on the record, and each one is like a river,” Thompson explains. “Some flow faster than others.  Some follow a slow and winding current. They all culminate on this one body of work.”

A high water mark in an overwhelmingly impressive career, 13 Rivers was recorded at the famed Boulevard Recording Studio in Los Angeles.  Previously known as The Production Workshop, which was owned by Liberace and his manager, the locale served as the site for seminal classics by Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Ringo Starr, and hosted the mixing sessions for Pink Floyd’s legendary The Wall.

Of the album, Thompson says, “The songs are a surprise in a good way.  They came to me as a surprise in a dark time. They reflected my emotions in an oblique manner that I’ll never truly understand.  It’s as if they’d been channelled from somewhere else. You find deeper meaning in the best records as time goes on. The reward comes later.”  He continues, “I don’t know how the creative process works. I suppose it is some kind of bizarre parallel existence to my own life. I often look at a finished song and wonder what the hell is going on inside me.  We sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission at the back.”

13 Rivers commences on the tribal percussion and guitar rustle of ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ as the artist bellows, “I’m looking for a storm to blow through town”. The energy mounts before climaxing on a lyrical electric lead rife with airy bends and succinct shredding from the guitar virtuoso. NPR Music has premiered ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ alongside an additional new album track, ‘Bones of Gilead’.

Richard Thompson’s musical influence cannot be overstated.  Having co-founded the ground-breaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60s, he and his bandmates invented a distinctive strain of British folk rock.  He left the group by the age of 21, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.  In 2011, Thompson received an OBE from the Queen. The Los Angeles Times called him the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix and Rolling Stone has named him one of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.  He has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the Americana Music Association, and the prestigious Ivor Novello Award.  His song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Greatest Songs Since 1923.”  A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more.  His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man.  Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in folk rock history.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: http://www.richardthompson-music.com/

‘The Storm Won’t Come’:

FAIRPORT CONVENTION – What We Did On Our Saturday (Matty Grooves MG2CD055)

Our SaturdayIf you’ve ever been to a Cropredy Festival you’ll know exactly what they do on Saturday. They gather together a bunch of former band-mates and old friends and play a mammoth set long into the darkness (subject to health and safety restrictions, of course). These days, Fairport Convention don’t need an excuse to mount a celebration but 2017 marked the band’s fiftieth anniversary and so this was the perfect opportunity to tell the band’s story in music – although not strictly in the right order. Thus we have What We Did On Our Saturday, packaged in an homage to their second album.

The album begins with their first album and (almost) their first line-up. For younger readers that was Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Iain Matthews and Judy Dyble now with Dave Mattacks on drums. They kick off with ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’ and ‘Reno Nevada’ and I was impressed at the way Richard played the sort of guitar lead appropriate to 1967. He couldn’t help himself, of course, and went off on one but I don’t suppose that anyone complained.

Chris While took over on lead vocals for ‘Suzanne’, a slightly less off-the-wall arrangement than the original. Chris does a very good Sandy Denny particularly on the rockier numbers but she’s her own woman and the grace notes and decorations are all her own. Judy and Iain get time off and the others take it in turns so the current line-up doesn’t actually appear until ‘Crazy Man Michael’ when Gerry Conway briefly wrestles the drum stool away from DM. The remainder of the first disc is taken up with selections from Liege & Lief and Full House and they keep ‘Sloth’ to under ten minutes.

The second disc opens with ‘Now Be Thankful’, a song which Chris Leslie is rapidly making his own, even though Richard elbows him off the mic on this occasion. It’s worth noting that Chris doesn’t get a break after the third track until the Fotheringay homage of ‘Ned Kelly’ and ‘Rising For The Moon’ which feature Sally Barker and PJ Wright and introduce Maartin Allcock to the stage. The latter is a feature of the revamped Fotheringay’s set but sadly, of course, Jerry Donahue isn’t available. I have to say, in passing, that Simon does a wonderful job with ‘Fotheringay’. Maart gets to lead ‘A Surfeit Of Lampreys’ and Ralph McTell takes centre stage for ‘White Dress’ but Simon keeps ‘The Hiring Fair’ for himself.

There is only one song that originates with the current line-up and that’s Chris Leslie’s ‘Our Bus Rolls On’ and now we’re on the downhill run. You know how it ends: ‘Matty Groves’ – with both drummers – and ‘Meet On The Ledge’ with everyone back on stage.

As you might imagine, I own a lot of Cropredy recordings and all have their own attractions. For me the 25th anniversary set stands out while the earlier ones: A.T.2 and The Boot have the particular ramshackle charm that we used to associate with Fairport Convention thirty-odd years ago. What We Did On Our Saturday is tight and slick without much in the way of stage chatter – an appropriately serious set to go with such a milestone in Fairport’s history. Exemplary performances as we’ve come to expect, of course, but sometimes I do miss Simon playing rhythm viola!

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.fairportconvention.com

‘Meet On The Ledge’ – what else?

Richard Thompson announces autumn/winter tour

Richard Thompson
Photograph by David Kaptein

World renowned guitarist and singer-songwriter Richard Thompson has announced an extensive UK tour for October and November 2018.

During a busy 2017, Thompson released two volumes of acoustic recordings:  Acoustic Classics Vol. II featuring acoustic renderings of classic songs from the Richard Thompson catalogue and Acoustic Rarities featuring new recordings of some of the more obscure songs in his repertoire. He also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fairport Convention, the ground-breaking band he co-founded as a teenager in the ‘60s, with a performance at its annual Cropredy Festival last August.

Named by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received multiple awards, including Lifetime Achievement Awards at the BBC Folk Awards and the US and UK Americana Music Association Awards, as well as Mojo’s Les Paul Award and an Ivor Novello Award for song writing. Thompson was appointed OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List. Robert Plant, REM, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt and many others have recorded his songs.

A brand new studio album will be released later this year on Proper Records.

Artist’s website: http://www.richardthompson-music.com/

‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’ – live:

Tour Dates

OCTOBER

Thursday 11                  Liverpool Philharmonic
Saturday 13                   Perth Concert Hall
Monday 15                Canterbury Marlowe
Tuesday 16                  London Barbican
Wednesday 17                Bath Forum
Thursday 18                  Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Saturday 20                   Stoke on Trent Victoria Hall
Sunday 21                  Manchester Opera House
Monday 22                York Grand Opera House
Tuesday 23                  Hull City Hall
Wednesday 24                Gateshead Sage
Friday 26                    Birmingham Town Hall
Saturday 27                   Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Sunday 28                  Oxford New Theatre
Tuesday 30                  Cambridge Corn Exchange
Wednesday 31                Salisbury City Hall

NOVEMBER

Thursday 1                     Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion
Friday 2                       High Wycombe Swan
Saturday 3                      Woking The New Victoria

Support on the shows will be Joan Shelley.

Tickets are available from: https://serious.org.uk/events/series/thompson

Mock Tudor to be re-released as double LP and book

Mock Tudor

Bong Load Records announces a re-visit to one of its classic pressings, Richard Thompson – Mock Tudor. A decked out hard cover coffee table art book and double LP hybrid, second in the Bong Load Book series. This Bong Load Book edition features beautiful spreads of newly uncovered and unseen photos from the original Mock Tudor era photo sessions. Some other upgrades in this enhanced time capsule include a high quality 12”X12” wall art picture print, production notes from producer and mixer Tom Rothrock, an era-correct backstage satin sticky pass from the 1999-2000 world tour and a new old-stock Bong Load Records sticker from 1999. Until now, the only other version of Mock Tudor is a standard double vinyl LP, originally released by Bong Load Records nearly 20 years ago.

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville to Britain’s BBC Awards as well as the prestigious Ivor Novello. In 2011, Thompson received an OBE (Order of The British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In the USA Thompson has been nominated at the Americanas for both “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year”. His recently released CD, Still was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy which reached #6 in the UK charts (just ahead of Taylor Swift)!

Having co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60’s, Richard Thompson and his mates virtually invented British Folk Rock. By the age of 21 he left Fairport to pursue his own career, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist who tours both solo acoustic and with his electric trio.

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, REM, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Patty Lovelace, Los Lobos, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Robert Earl Keen and many others. Thompson’s massive body of work includes over 40 albums, many Grammy nominations, as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Hertzog’s Grizzy Man. As an in-demand live performer, the past two years saw Richard Thompson headlining dates around the world as well as co-headlining shows with Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell as well as the Americanarama Tour with Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket – which culminated with Dylan himself performing RT’s classic song  ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’. Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with dizzying energy and onstage wit continue to earn Richard Thompson massive new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos in Folk Rock history.“Genius appears early. Legends are earned. But history’s greatest never stand on their laurels. This is the artistic arc for Richard Thompson!”

Pre-order from https://www.bongloadrecords.com/

The Folking Awards results 2018

Here they are, the results of the 2018 Folking awards. Thanks to all our writers who submitted nominations and to everyone who participated – almost 17,000 votes were cast. Every one of the nominees made an impression on our writers either on record or on stage during 2017. Without further ado, here are the top choices with percentage of the votes cast.


Soloist of the year – Richard Thompson (31.3%)

Folking Awards results

Read a short bio here (as if you really need to!).


Best Duo – Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (46%)

Read a short bio here.


Best Band – Merry Hell (35.6%)

Best Live Act – Merry Hell (32.1%)

Just in case we haven’t told you about them often enough you can read about Merry Hell here.


Best Album – Strangers by The Young’Uns (29%)

Strangers

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Strangers here.


Best Musician – Ryan Young (35.6%)

Read Ryan’s bio here.


Rising Star Act – The Trials Of Cato (33.2%)

Read The Trials of Cato bio here.


Best International Artiste – Le Vent Du Nord (45.7%)

Photograph by Alistair Cassidy

Read Le Vent Du Nord’s bio here.


If you would like to consider ordering a copy of an album for any of folking.com’s 2018 award nominees (see full list here), they are available in CD or Vinyl format, as an album download or as an individual track (track previews are usually on the download page). Click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Use the left and right arrows to scroll.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.