Gonna break somebody’s heart tonight: The best of Richard Thompson

Thanks to Bob Mould’s Workbook, I was primed for Richard Thompson. Among the oddities of the *Poppy Bush Interzone was the college radio acceptance of a crank with a shit voice, a beret, and undeniably marvelous guitar chops. The pop charts could have Eric Clapton; Richard Thompson belonged amid cults. I can’t say I’m an expert: I own most of his Linda Thompson albums, and most of the albums through 1994’s overlong Mirror Blue. As a songwriter and guitarist, he’s extraordinary, a best-ever artist; as a singer, he’s a sardonic bore, a feast of dust and ashes on a plate, which might explain why Mitchell Froom had to hurdy gurdy up his songs in the early nineties with the usual synthesized clink-clank. It still worked. Nevertheless, Shoot Out the Light remains his peak, a divorce album as shattered and despairing as Blood on the Tracks, Rumours, Here, My Dear, and The Grand Tour.

1. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
2. Wall of Death
3. Feel So Good
4. Walking on a Wire
5. Hokey Pokey
6. Shoot Out the Lights
7. Withered and Died
8. Just the Motion
9. Beeswing
10. The Calvary Cross
11. A Heart Needs a Home
12. Don’t Tempt Me
13. The Great Valerio
14. I’ll Regret It All in the Morning
15. Valerie
16. Easy There, Steady Now
17. Baby One More Time
18. Waltzing’s for Dreamers
19. Tear-Stained Letter
20. I Misunderstood
21. You Don’t Say
22. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
23. She Twists the Knife Again
24. Down Where the Drunkards Roll
25. Read About Love

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