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cover shotFor Almost Anyone Else, Four or Five Stars
Rumor and Sigh
Richard Thompson
I dunno -- i've got a problem with RT's more recent albums -- from about where Mitchell Froom enters the picture, i guess. I feel as if they're over-produced, a bit too elaborate; just too fiddly compared to his live shows.

On the other hand, i often feel that his sets with a band are a bit over-elaborate and fiddly as opposed to his acoustic sets, too, so maybe it's just that i simply prefer Richard in as simple a setting as possible so that he has room to sort of stretch out and breathe, as it were, musically.

This may explain the three star rating; for most other guitarist/singer/songwriter types, this would be a four or five star effort, but for RT it feels as if he's limited and constrained by the overall production values (though there are exceptions -- Now Read On).

That said, there are some wonderful songs on this album, and the standout is "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", a strict-form acoustic folk-ballad of the kind about the cunning outlaw and his marvellous horse... but here it's a London spiv and his wonderful motorcycle. (Listen -- if all i had to do to get a '52 Black Lightning was a couple armed robberies, i'd have already given serious consideration to which local banks would be easiest...) Listening here, it sounds like the guitar is overdubbed -- it sounds the same way when he stands there on stage, just him and one acoustic guitar, plays exactly the same lines,and makes it look easy.

"Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands" is, as one reviewer has said, a one-joke polka, but it's a good joke, and it is a fun song when RT does it live.

"I Feel so Good" is scary scary scary -- skirling and slashing guitar chords surround the story of a punk released from jail who plans to have all the vicious fun he can on his First Night Out.

"I Misunderstood" -- oh, the times you thought you heard one thing and he/she said another -- "I thought she was sayin' 'Good Luck' -- But she was sayin' 'Good-Bye' ..."

"Read About Love" lays open and then cauterises one of the sadder/darker bits of our sick culture with brilliant guitar and biting lyrics -- all too many young people today are getting their first lessons in love and/or sexuality from places like movies and teevee and "Penthouse" and "Hustler" and believing that it really is that way. The song's protagonist knows that he did what he was supposed to for a wonderful experience and doesn't understand why his partner, far from responding rhapsodically, lies there and cries.

"God Loves a Drunk" is brilliant, dark, disturbing and sad.

A good solid outing, not his best, far from anyone's worst.