Wild Mercury Sound

Richard & Linda Thompson, and a bit more Robert Wyatt

John Mulvey

Been a bit distracted today, as I've been engaged in a Sisyphean task to try and compile all the catalogue numbers of the Factory label, including the cat, Rob Gretton's dental work and so on. Further to my Robert Wyatt review yesterday, I now have a fraction more info to flesh out my impressions.

Fairly unsurprisingly, guest players include Eno, Phil Manzanera and Paul Weller, who've all figured on the last couple of Wyatt albums, if memory serves. The other thing I've gleaned is that "Comicopera" is split into three "acts": "Lost In Noise" (vaguely romantic), "The Here And The Now" (vaguely political) and "Away With The Fairies" (largely Spanish).

I haven't had a chance to play "Comicopera" today to check all this out, so I'll try and report back again on this engrossing record. I've just finished listening to a Richard & Linda Thompson live album from November 1975, never released at the time, which is set to come out in August, I think.

Unsurprisingly, it's terrific, drawing on their first three duo albums for most of the material. One of my favourite Richard songs, "The Calvary Cross", stretches out to 14 minutes of wracked soloing, and it's almost matched by an 11-minute version of "Night Comes In".

For the most part, though, the tone is one of nervy jauntiness: an accordian player (John Kirkpatrick, I imagine) is all over everything here - so much so, you occasionally wish he'd ease off and give Richard some space. There's also a version of "Now Be Thankful", one of Richard's last Fairport Convention songs, given a new dimension by Linda's lead. It's at times like this that I wonder whether, of all the British folk singers who emerged in the late '60s and early '70s, she might be my favourite.

It's a kind of forceful economy which she has, a sense of passion which never strays into either sentimentality or folksy cliche. I saw her sing a few years ago, at a great Festival Hall show that was effectively a jam session featuring Rufus Wainwright, his sister Martha, the McGarrigles and sundry relatives, folk brats and fellow travellers, and her voice hadn't changed at all.

Rumour has it she has a new solo album due later this year. I'll keep you posted when I hear more. And also, there's reportedly a deluxe (whatever that means) version of "Liege And Lief" on the way. Not sure if anything new will fetch up there, but we'll soon see, hopefully.


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