SOUNDTRACK: RICHARD THOMPSON-Across a Crowded Room (1985), Daring Adventures (1986) & Rumor and Sigh (1988).
One thing I have really noticed in my crash course of RT CDs is how completely timeless his work sounds. Aside from a few production values issues, notable on Across a Crowded Room, it’s really hard to know when these songs were done. It’s quite remarkable. And, when you factor in just how solid a songwriter he is, it’s hard to find a bad album of the lot. I wish I had done this sooner, I’d be even more hardcore RT than I am now.
Across a Crowded Room. The only flaw I found with this one was that the backing singers and instrument choices really tend to date this record in the 80s. Some of the songs get a little bogged down, especially when compared to the raw live versions. That said, this disc has five songs that I think are amazing, and that’s just scanning the title list. “When the Spell is Broken” and “She Twists the Knife Again” just show the amazing range of styles that RT can pull off, from beautiful heartbreak to bitter rage. Stunning.
Daring Adventures. Allmusic.com doesn’t seem to like this record very much, and I guess that they have a point that the middle of the record isn’t too memorable. But any record that starts off with “Bone Through Her Nose” and “Valerie” is allowed to coast for a song or two. That said, overall the album is (here’s that word again) solid. And “Al Bowlly’s in Heaven” is simply a wonderfully moving song.
Rumor and Sigh. Wow. This is a high point. “Read About Love,” “I Feel So Good” (one of the greatest balls out rockers that no one knows about!), “I Misunderstood” (oh, emotional heart wringing right after the rocker!). And, here’s what I’m talking about regarding the timelessness of RT, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” (such a great, tender song about thugs) came out in 1991!? at the same time as “I Feel So Good?” That song simply has classic written all over it, and here it is barely 15 years old (and hey if that’s a long time to you you must not be over 30 yet). And “God Loves a Drunk,” such a sad mournful song that I first heard in a great cover by Mary Coughlan. And this is an aspect not really talked about yet…the number of songs he’s written that others have covered and–proving how great a songwriter he is–how others can makes them sound equally good. Must…stop…gushing. Since you’re here, go check out Richard’s Song O Matic!
Incidentally, here is a great blog with lots of excellent RT info: Taking It Back to the Roots
[READ: June 25, 2007] McSweeney’s #19.
I just finished all of McSweeney’s #19 last night, and it is a real mixed bag. Let’s start with the packaging. A pretty nifty box! With cool pictures all around it. Inside the box is a fascinating array of materials. Primarily, they are war-related. And, assuming they are real, they include: a leaflet on War veterans’ pensions circa 1883; a typed correspondence from 1911; Two photos from the YIVA Jewish Research Institute 1920 and 1930; a pamphlet “The Stuff That Wins” from the YMCA to inspire boys in WWI from 1918; handwritten letter; a British pamphlet “Some Things You Should Know If War Should Come” from 1939; flier “Young Men of Seventeen! (Join the Marines Today)”; “The Big Plot (Proof of the Justice Department’s plan to jail 21,105 Americans” (anti McCarthy tract written by Paul Robeson); Air Raid Instructions pocket guide; “Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do About Nuclear Attack” 1961 (written by Robert McNamara…yes THAT one); “Your Horoscope Tells You How You Can Help the Republican Party WIN!” (by the Nixon people); Rainbow mission attack plan; letter from Donald Rumsfeld about leaking classified information (2002); George W. Bush dental records from 1973; “A Pocket Guide to the Middle East” from 1957. (more…)