Richard Thompson is one of those artists whose influence on fellow musicians, and his critical approval, run ahead of his commercial impact. But on 29 January 1994, after more than a quarter-century of recording, he made the top 30 of the UK album chart as a solo artist for the first time, with the Capitol album Mirror Blue.
Listen to Mirror Blue right now.
The great English guitarist and songwriter first reached the UK charts as a member of Fairport Convention in 1969, when Unhalfbricking went to No. 12. After leaving Fairport, his fine body of work with his then-wife Linda won great acclaim but, sadly, made no UK chart impact. It was not until his 1985 solo set during his Polydor period, Across A Crowded Room, that Thompson registered a chart position of his own, and even then only at No. 80.
Two further releases, Daring Adventures and Amnesia, also flickered for a week in the lower echelons of the top 100, before the significant upturn in the early 1990s. As the artist’s work began to be more widely appreciated by discerning record-buyers of the new decade, 1991’s Rumour and Sigh became his first-ever solo top 40 album, reaching No. 32.
Mirror Blue, Richard’s seventh solo release, was produced, like Rumour and Sigh, by Mitchell Froom (who also played keyboards) and recorded in Los Angeles and London. It features such enduring melodies as the charming ballad ‘Beeswing,’ the jaunty ‘I Can’t Wake Up To Save My Life’ and the edgy, haunting ‘The Way That It Shows.’ Guests included such notables as Danny Thompson, Jerry Scheff and Pete Thomas of the Attractions.
Remarkably, it would be another 16 years before Thompson made the top 20 with one of his solo releases, when Dream Attic reached No. 20. In July 2015, he made yet another breakthrough, with his first-ever top ten album, Still, in a career that continues to delight. In 2019, he celebrated his 70th birthday with an all-star concert at the Royal Albert Hall featuring David Gilmour, Loudon Wainwright III, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, ex-wife Linda Thompson, many other family members and former Fairport bandmates.
Mirror Blue can be bought here.
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