even a chicken has to what it has to do…

There are not enough accordions in rock music.

There are not even enough accordions in folk music.

There are for sure not enough accordions in folk-rock music.

There are also sad to say these days not enough electric guitars in folk-rock music.

IMG_3391.JPGThere are enough fiddles and bohdrans and even freaking pipes of the bag and uillean variety, I was even watching the kind of cringeworthy Dave(I will not say David)Gilmour family get together on facebook the other day and there is a harp along with a guitar, so there are clearly enough harps in all sorts of music.

In the heady days of the mid 70’s there were plenty of electric guitars in folk-rock music. There were also accordions and mandolins and many fiddles.

There was however only one remaining folk-rock duo willing to stretch those instrumentals out to psychedelic excess along with the more accessible songs about poor boys, whiskey nightmares and meaningful songs of shame. That was Richard and Linda Thompson, the most missed duo of the seventies if I might say. As far as I know nobody is calling for the return of Elton John and Kiki Dee. I may be wrong however.

Now those psychedelic guitar solos are probably explained by Mr Thompson as some IMG_3392.JPGsort of religious ecstatic experience an expression of deep spiritual yearning and fulfillment. I am however going to go with the mere fact that they explore subconscious parts of the mind that only six string played by a maestro can. Especially on Night Comes In. Yes Sufi-whirling may be what Thompson is singing about but there is a lot of mention of wine drinking too. Oh well if you really want to hear an out of the box version get Guitar Vocal and sprawl out with Thompson guitar and John Kirkpatricks accordion as they soar and swoop through the night.

So there are sufficient accordions on Pour Down Like Silver, there are also adequate fiddles, trumpets and cello’s. There is a crack rhythm section but no rhythm guitarist. It is starker than the earlier albums and definitely less polished than the following if that means anything.

It also ends with one of the great songs in the folk-rock world with Dimming of the Day.

Live in fear…

Richard Thompson is definitely a unique talent. I came to him by way of Fairport Convention at Cropredy banging out Fire In The Engine Room one hazy memoried evening in the 84.

I immediately ran out and purchased Across A Crowded Room and was not disappointed.  There then followed a series of gigs in Southport and Manchester and other places. That blood spattered guitar strap and the searing solos are still stuck in my mind.

In those days the purchase of a record was a serious matter, as a poor student who was more interested in beer and curry, buying a record dug into much needed finances. Usually an album would be borrowed from the library and recorded to one of countless C90 cassettes that ended up littering the floor.fly However in 86 Hannibal records re-released a record that looked so intriguing in a bizarre way, entitled Richard Thompson starring as Henry The Human Fly.

It was the oddest looking thing I had ever seen and inside was a strange mix of sounds ranging from lovely folk melodies to brass arrangements that are ever so slightly discordant.

The refrain however from the first track Roll Over Vaughn Williams of “Live in fear, live in fear, live in fear.” has always stuck with me. Fairport had been folk-rock but this was folk rock’n’roll. Yes there were folk songs like the Poor Ditching Boy and The Old Changing Way, there were however strange rock songs like Roll Over Vaughn Williams and the Angels Took My Racehorse Away. This was literally music made by a unique individual who saw the world through a lens that the rest of us could only guess at.

It is however the last song on the album Twisted that made me a fan and to this day I can’t really say why but every time I hear it I stop what I am doing and listen.

Over the years I learned all sorts of things about Thompson. I also learned that inexplicably to me this album was the worst selling record Warner Bro’s ever released. It is hard to reconcile the brilliance of the record, the strange confluence of harps, brass music, concertinas and electric and acoustic guitars and the failure of the record to sell.henry I have carried this record around for almost thirty years now, at some point it lost it’s sleeve so I had to borrow the picture from Amazon and now all I have left is the vinyl and a nice new inner sleeve to keep it in.

Tonight when my middle son called me up with some bothersome news I sat down and grabbed the old friend from the stack and listened to that strange comforting album. While it didn’t change things for me it did make me think that somewhere out there Thompson may empathise with the feeling of being  a little uncomfortable in the skin we wear and living in fear.

She’s got hoochie coochie Gucci and a Pom Pom hat…

It’s been awhile so today’s selection was Mr Thompson from his Polydor years.IMG_4052 That period after the divorce from Linda and the first Mitchell Froom production. This was the years when he toured with the blood spattered guitar strap and Christine Collister on the back up vocals and Clive Gregson filling the rhythm guitar spot.

Daring Adventures is a lost classic in the Thompson cannon. It provides many of the current live staples, Bone Through Her Nose, Al Bowlly, the lovely Jennie and the incendiary Valerie. It is one of his strongest albums but it often gets overlooked as it seems to be so hard to find. Full of witty sarcastic biting songs of love, loss and trains. As well and the best song of noncomitment ever written with Nearly In Love.  The price of admittance is more than justified by the guitar solo on Long Dead Love.

Maybe it is the dour cover looking like some film noire screenshot set in Yorkshire. Although the strange man in leather trench coat and flat cap leaning against a brick wall looks sinister for all the wrong reasons. This  may be the reason it is less well known than some of the other albums.

Not long after this R.T. took off for Los Angeles and fame and fortune as the most oft cited guitar slinger nobody knows about or the alleged soccer coach for the Governator at one time.

This album  along with Hand of Kindness and Across a Crowded Room has held my hand through many a break up from 1983 to 1991, then my soon to be wife asked me to play it again and I knew I had a keeper.