Richard and Linda Thompson’s early recordings together have attained an almost mythical status and their first three acclaimed Island Records classics will now be available again on vinyl from September 11 through UMe/Island.
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974), Hokey Pokey (1975) and Pour Down Like Silver (1975) have all been pressed on 180 gram vinyl. These seminal works, ground-breaking at the time, have influenced generations of artists and firmly established Richard and Linda Thompson as major figures on the British folk scene.
Recorded in May 1973, but not released until 1974 due to an international oil shortage, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight is a dark and eclectic affair. Richard and Linda share vocals and many of the album’s 12 tracks would become firm fan favorites, including: “When I Get To The Border,” “Calvary Cross,” “We Sing Hallelujah” and “The End of The Rainbow,” “Down Where The Drunkards Roll,” “Has He Got A Friend For Me?,” “The Great Valerio” and the title track. Now considered a classic album, it did little to trouble the charts on its original release but was very well received by the music press. Geoff Brown of Melody Maker proclaimed: “Richard Thompson is… the most accomplished guitarist in this land…He’s written some masterful songs, here and Linda, has performed them as perfectly as we’ve a right to expect”.
Richard and Linda’s second album Hokey Pokey, released in 1975, is a mixture of darkly comic songs like “Smiffy’s Glass Eye,” the more world-weary “I’ll Regret It All In The Morning” and “A Heart Needs A Home” and more somber songs such as “The Egypt Room.” Richard always envisaged Hokey Pokey as “a music-hall influenced record.” He was a big fan of Harry Lauder and Gracie Fields, and this inspiration can be seen in the Victorian style cover by Shirt Sleeve Studio and is audible on the title track and also “Georgie On A Spree.”
Also released in 1975, Richard and Linda’s third LP Pour Down Like Silver became known as “The Sufi album” due to Richard’s recent conversion to Islam. It is a more restrained and spartan album compared to its lusher sounding predecessors and contains some of Richard’s most beautiful songs including “For Shame Of Doing Wrong,” ”Beat The Retreat” and “Dimming Of The Day,” with “Hard Luck Stories” probably the most musically upbeat song on the album. The record was warmly received with Rolling Stone observing: “Pour Down Like Silver is the kind of album that makes listening to music worthwhile, a record of such rare beauty and scope that one honestly feels privileged to hear it.” Angus MacKinnon of the NME concluded that: “through its exploration of extreme disillusionment, Pour Down Like Silver remains a considerable and deeply moving achievement.”
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver are out on September 11 and can be pre-ordered here.