Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior

By: Scott Caffrey

Ever since Richard Thompson left Capitol Records in 1999, he's welcomed the new millennium acquiescent to even more musical directions than his already diverse past. In recent times, one of the world's premiere guitarists has finally been recognized as one of its finest troubadours, and not just a founding father of alternative rock.

Every Thompson effort is challenging, in some way. At the ripe age of 58, Sweet Warrior (Shout Factory!) finds him re-conquering rock and getting better with age. Casting folk aside, Warrior roars top-to-bottom, showcasing Thompson's smooth baritone, which shows no signs of wear. The lion's share of the 14 tracks are barnstorming rockers - "I'll Never Give It Up," "Mr. Stupid" and "Bad Monkey" - that work around the saxy ska of "Francesca" and the gorgeous, genteel "Take Care the Road You Choose." Then there's "Dad's Gonna Kill Me" ("Dad" is short for Baghdad here), a dirge rocker told from the perspective of a soldier who knows his certain fate. Thompson offers real crunch to the harder edges and his primo guitar work is deeply set into some of the ballsiest original rock to come along in many a moon.

Backed by longtime collaborators Danny Thompson (double bass), Michael Jerome (drums) and frequent collaborators Judith Owen and Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Thompson works out the mandolin, autoharp, accordion, and organ to paint the scars smooth. Few, if any, have put together such an inspired rock 'n' roll effort.

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[Published on: 1/20/08]

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RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/20/2008 08:21AM
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HAVENT really heard his solo stuff but his work with fairport convention is brilliant.

snappy Sun 1/20/2008 08:59AM
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Ooh, LFMS2008, you are in for a treat! With the early stuff, I'd recommend starting with the bookends of his marriage with Linda Thompson, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974) and Shoot Out The Lights (1982). Also noteworthy are Hand of Kindness (1983), the divorce record done while Richard lived in London with Loudon Wainwright III during his divorce, and Amnesia (1988), some of his best songs & production ever and it set the tone for everything that's followed. 1993's Watching The Dark 3-CD compilation is a fantastic crash course in all things Thompson up to that point. And hells yeah on Fairport Convention. I still put FC on mixes for friends all the time and reference them in my writing constantly (see the Poor Man's Whiskey show review).

hjgarcia starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/20/2008 09:26AM
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richard thompson is the man....1952 vincent black lightning is one of the best songs ever recorded....

i'm excited to hear this....

funkjester Sun 1/20/2008 12:01PM
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Don't forget Richard & Linda's "Pour Down Like Silver," which is a shimmering masterpiece, as well as the chronically-underrated solo effort "Across A Crowded Room." The solo acoustic "Small Town Romance" is excellent as well.

As for the Fairport era, "What We Did On Our Holidays" and "Unhalfbricking" are essential, and "Liege and Lief" is historical and a great listen. If you really dig Richard's Faiport=era stuff (and I love it), you might also really enjoy Sandy Denny's "North Star Grassman & the Ravens," Richard is all over that record. And, since someone mentioned Loudon, you should check out his excellent collaborations with Richard: "More Love Songs," "I'm Alright," and "Fame & Wealth," all on Rounder.

FreeHawk starstarstarstarstar Sun 1/20/2008 03:19PM
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Richard Thompson is a gem. I look forward to this album on emusic. His Live at ACL album was an excellent starting point for me on his solo work.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/21/2008 04:49AM
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nuke_ticketbastard starstar Thu 1/24/2008 10:53AM
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yeah i kind of HAVE to agree with miles on this one.... why are you guys reviewing an album almost a year after it came out? i got to see RT on this tour and he was truly amazing.... legendary

hey why not review sticky fingers next? actually it doesn't really matter