Happy Birthday Richard Thompson

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Thursday, April 3, 2014
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Happy Birthday Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson, a man whose songwriting abilities are only exceeded by his gift with the guitar, turns 64 years old today, but you’d never know it from the enthusiasm the guy continues to put into his live shows.

Born in Notting Hill Gate, London, in 1949, Thompson was playing with the now-legendary folk band Fairport Convention by the time he was 18, but he left the band in 1971 because…well, by most reports, it seems to have been mostly just because he felt like it. In a 1997 biography by Patrick Humphries, Thompson is quoted as saying, “I left Fairport as a gut reaction and didn't really know what I was doing, except writing. I was writing stuff and it seemed interesting and I thought it would be fun to make a record. And at the same time – 70–71 – I was doing a lot of session work as a way of avoiding any serious ideas about a career.”

Although he kicked off his solo career in 1972 with the album Henry the Human Fly, Thompson worked with his then-wife, Linda, from 1973 through 1982, releasing a series of album which began with 1974’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and closed, appropriately enough, with 1982’s Shoot Out the Lights. After that, it was back to the solo career, which he’s continued ever since, having put out 13 studio albums under his own name since then, the most recent being last year’s Electric.

To celebrate Thompson’s birthday, we’ve put together a playlist featuring two key albums from his early ‘80s output. First up: the aforementioned Shoot Out the Lights, the last album Thompson recorded with Linda, but one which remains a career highlight for both of ‘em. (If you’re a fan and you don’t already own it, run don’t walk to Rhino Handmade to get the deluxe version, which offers a second disc featuring 12 live tracks from Thompson’s 1982 tour.) The other inclusion: 1983’s Hand of Kindness, Thompson’s first solo album in over a decade, but one which is so remarkably upbeat that you can’t help but feel that going it alone again really wasn’t such a bad thing for the guy.