Richard Thompson

It was, I think, the influence of The Band that had some of my peers heading in search of music that could have been written and/or performed at any point in the past century or two rather than tunes that were obviously contemporary, a quest that pointed some of us towards Fairport Convention and, by extension, to the inimitable Richard Thompson.

It was a quest that led, to use a widely quoted example, a group of Latino kids in Los Angeles to realise they could use traditional material from their own Hispanic heritage in the same way Fairport had electrified English folk tunes.

Richard Thompson had already penned Genesis Hall when Fairport headed off down that traditional arr. route, and it was obvious that when you’re short of suitable traditional material or disinclined to use what’s been unearthed you could always write your own.

So, in some cases in collaboration with fiddler Dave Swarbrick, he did.

Some forty years after he left Fairport Thompson’s still at it. 

Admittedly, in the extensive and impressive discography he’s built up over four decades there’s material that isn’t directly drawn from his British folk roots, but those influences have shaped the writing and playing of a man who’s probably listed in most knowledgable critics’ Top Twenty contemporary songwriters and guitarists (acoustic and electric).

That’s three possible lists, folks (writing, acoustic and electric) and there aren’t too many performers out of any era who’d end up figuring on all three. There will, of course, be critics who’ve compiled lists in one or more of those categories and left Thompson, R. off the said list, but when I happen to note one, Hughesy’s reaction is invariably to dismiss it on the basis of insufficient research or an inability to recognise individual brilliance that must bring the critic’s other conclusions into question.

That’s talking in terms of critics. For the general population Richard Thompson hasn’t been flying under the radar, it’s more or less a case of passing by completely undetected. 

As a result of the need to turn a quid through the merchandise booth and on the website, the following discography features a section devoted to Cottage industry rather than major label releases. If you’re searching for some of those titles the best option I can suggest, other than the official website, is, predictably, iTunes, where around half a dozen of them may be found.

What follows here isn’t quite the complete discography, but goes close enough to what I’ve got in the CD shelves to act as another index to keep track of things discussed in various parts of the site as well as items reviewed hereabouts.



© Ian Hughes 2012