Thursday 29 October 2015

Richard Thompson - Sporrans in the Trossachs

Still - Richard Thompson

Not being of the folk fraternity I know not where Richard Thompson figures in their pantheon of great living singers and songwriters, but I would be astonished if he wasn’t up there. He may be a little too rocking for the Arran sweater set, but on the extremely good and much played round here Still album he sets out his stall with a slow march of a song that could have been written in the eighteenth century, to be handed down to future generations of rustic chanters.

‘She Never Could Resist A Winding Road’ is proof that all of those hours Thompson is reputed to have spent at Cecil Sharp House were not wasted; I would reckon it’s an instant folk classic. With a world-weary lyric, and invoking the image of a solitary piper on a distant hill, admired from afar by the maiden in question, it is the sound of sporrans in the Trossachs.

Still, produced by Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), otherwise has all the hallmarks of classic Thompson: phenomenal guitar playing, Struwwelpeter imagery, and the ghost of Linda Peters in the background harmony vocal. And just when you thought there were no more strings left for Thompson to bend, he dazzles with inventive and daring soloing on ‘Patty Don’t You Put Me Down’, ‘All Buttoned Up’, and (the otherwise perfunctory) ‘Long John Silver’.

I’m guessing Thompson flunked his school exams due to the distraction of the electric guitar, but all those hours he spent slaving over the fret board paid dividends, as he recounts in the song ‘Guitar Heroes’. In it, he name-checks Django Reinhardt; Les Paul; Chuck Berry; James Burton, and The Shadows, and effortlessly reproduces their respective guitar styles. The deluxe version of Still has the bonus EP Variations, which has has yet more solid songs and astonishing guitar work. I’ll give it 5.

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1 comment:

  1. It got a notional foive in the November issue of Entertainment, Will, but we don't have actual ratings because the editor thinks they're a bit silly.