Suggestions about Albums

by Richard Thompson


"His discography is one of the best reasons for owning a turntable..."

-Mark Fleischmann (1982)


The Best of Richard and Linda Thompson: The Island Years (2000)


I'm still working on this page of suggested albums, so please bear with me. I'll also probably change my mind every few days.

I have arbitrarily limited myself to recommending just five albums, partially because I wanted to pay homage to that fateful Rolling Stone review of five re-released albums, but also because I had to draw a line somewhere. So, for better or worse, here we go…

Starring as Henry the Human Fly (1972)

Somewhere I read that this was the label's "worst-selling album of the year." That may be, but it is one of my favorites. It is indeed a little quirky, but so is Leo Kottke's Ice Water. "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away" and "The Old Changing Way" are two of my favorites. The former is a '50's rock 'n roll folk, er, it's a folk version of a modern...oh, it's pretty darn interesting. Come to think of it, this is probably not a good introductory album at all, but I love it.

I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)

This is a remarkable album. It is subtle, yet gorgeous, with beautiful songs that have actual melodies (remember those, kids?) The guitar work is flawless. My favorites: "When I Get to the Border" and "The End of the Rainbow". The latter song stops just short of being a complete downer and you really have to stop yourself from whistling it at inappropriate times.

Shoot Out the Lights (1982)

I am probably the only RT fan who does not think that the title track is RT's best song. Even my wife loves it. Frankly, I don't care for it at all. The album makes up for it, though, with two superb tracks, "Walking on a Wire" and "Wall of Death." The former is a perfect showcase for Linda's voice and the latter is a giddy song about love in a carnival setting (really!) Again, it was Rolling Stone's Album of the Year in 1982.

Mirror Blue (1994)

In my opinion, this is his best "electric" album. It also has two of his most beautiful ballads, "Beeswing" and "King of Bohemia." Also be sure to check out "I Can't Wake Up to Save My Life,", which is absolutely rip-roaring live. ( I wish I could get my hands on one of the ceramic figurines of RT that adorn the cover.)

Action Packed (2001)

I really didn't want to include any compilation albums, but this one is just such a good overview of his recent work that I couldn't leave it out. It is worthwhile to own if only for "Persuasion," which appears as a complete song on only one other album. This might not be the best album for the uninitiated, but it is chock-full of quality music and is a little more accessible than the Fairport Convention collections or the "Best of RT & LT" shown at the top of the page.


Boy, that really hurt! Maybe I'll revisit this page with additional suggestions. Also, I don't want to overlook the two tribute albums that other artists have done. That wouldn't be cheating to include those, would it? After all, they're not actually RT albums, are they….?

Oh, yeah, I guess that I did sneak in that album at the top. Well, since it's there, I'll mention that it is an excellent overview of the first RT & LT albums. Just gorgeous!

Yes, I want to be a "Dickhead"!! Give me more suggestions and tell me more about this amazing man!

Please take me back to the Richard Thompson page.

If you want to correspond with me about RT, I’d be happy to give you my poor opinions. Just send mail to me. I would be particularly interested in your comments on the artist.

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