Posts Tagged ‘Christine Collister’

In November 1986; the month that this Double Live album was recorded Erasure, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde and Swing Out Sister were topping the UK Pop Charts; yet Richard Thompson’s music has aged much better than any of them. It’s not that his music; in particular his songwriting hasn’t evolved in the intervening 34 years; but if he turned up at your local concert hall with the same band of musicians in tow and played this set note for note; you would still be thrilled and satisfied at an evening and money well spent.
Arguably recorded at the height of Thompson’s ‘Commercial success’ this album was originally a radio show so the production is far clearer than a bootleg or two that I own from the same era; and the intricacy of his sublime and inventive guitar playing shines through every song. Starting with a huge roar that greets Thompson, the first song Man in Need (from Shoot Out The Lights) gets the evening off to a fantastic start; combining as it does, Thompson’s trademarked Folk sensibilities with his Electric guitar ……. showing that Folk Rock really could and still can R.O.C.K!

Although promoting the “Daring Adventures album at the time Thompson also dips daringly into his back catalogue; breathing new life into the likes of “Calvary Cross, Two Left Feet” and a personal favourite of mine; “Tear Stained Letter” …… which are still regular parts of his current concerts.

As you’d expect from a Richard Thompson concert there are surprises around every corner; and just when you’re not expecting it he drops in the Whitefriar’s Hornpipe/Shreds and Patches medley; featuring the dexterous accordion playing of John Kirkpatrick; and while not my first musical love proves to be a real toe-tapper.
There’s plenty here for part-time fans most especially You Don’t Say with Richard and Clive Gregson trading verses and harmonising like Folk’s answer to the Everly Brothers; plus I’d totally forgot that Thompson supplied the theme tune to Life and Loves of a She-Devil; and Christine Collister’s vocals and Thompson’s spooky tune.

It’s a long time since I played the album; but I don’t remember Shoot Out The Lights or Al Bowly’s in Heaven sounding this dark and dangerous, here both sound almost Gothic in tone.
For a Favourite Track I’m not sure whether to go for the tried and trusted in Wall of Death  or something brand new to me; in this case The Angels Took My Racehorse Away (from 1972’s Henry The Human Fly) which blew me away the first time I heard it but I’m going to compromise with the fabulous Nearly In Love; a song I loved way back when, from the Daring Adventures because Thompson proves what a skilled craftsman he was with storytelling and song construction; plus his guitar playing throughout shows why so many people rate him as one of the most innovative guitars players of all time. Apart from Richard Thompson’s voice being a tad smoother and more excitable than it is today; these songs and the man himself don’t appear to have aged a single day in the intervening years on this marvellous live set from my hometown Nottingham.

Recorded Live At Rock City, Nottingham, November – 1986

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville to Britain’s BBC Awards and the prestigious Ivor Novello.

In 2011, Thompson was the recipient of the OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Most recently, the Americana Music Honors & Awards nominated him for ”Artist of the Year”.

Tracklist:
1. Man In Need (Live) ( 3:56)
2. When The Spell Is Broken (Live) ( 7:31)
3. Two Left Feet (Live) ( 3:53)
4. Jennie (Live) ( 5:28)
5. A Bone Through Her Nose (Live) ( 6:33)
6. Calvary Cross (Live) (10:23)
7. Al Bowlly’s In Heaven (Live) ( 6:33)
8. Whitefriar’s Hornpipe Shreds And Patches (Live) ( 4:53)
9. You Don’t Say (Live) ( 5:02)
10. Wall Of Death (Live) ( 3:53)
11. Fire In The Engine Room (Live) ( 3:54)
12. The Life And Loves Of A She Devil Theme Tune (Live) ( 7:46)
13. The Angels Took My Racehorse Away (Live) ( 4:41)
14. Shoot Out The Lights (Live) ( 6:46)
15. Nearly In Love (Live) ( 4:38)
16. Tear Stained Letter (Live) ( 7:56)

Was there really a time when guitar maestro Richard Thompson was still struggling to establish himself as a solo artist? Yes. Was there a time when he wasn’t a preternaturally commanding solo artist? Seemingly not.

As one of the greatest guitarists of his generation, Richard Thompson has played with some of the world’s most accomplished rock and folk musicians, starting, of course, with his first band, Fairport Convention. But of all the outfits Thompson has led during his sterling, post-Fairport, solo career, perhaps the finest was the unit he took out on the road with him for his 1985 tour supporting his then-current studio release (and first for the Polydor label), “Across A Crowded Room”. While the album’s recording sessions had featured Fairport Convention stalwarts Simon Nicol and Dave Mattacks on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively. For the tour Thompson enlisted the considerable talents of Any Trouble leader Clive Gregson and his creative partner Christine Collister, whose haunting harmonies (and occasional songwriting contributions) beautifully fleshed out the band’s live sound.

The double live album “Across a Crowded Room – Live at Barrymore’s 1985” documents an electrifying Ottawa performance from a period when the world’s greatest living guitar stylist , not to mention one of the finest songwriters the 20th century ever spat out.  Thompson was still a relatively unknown quantity without his erstwhile musical and matrimonial partner Linda, at least outside his native England. There was an abortive first stab at a solo career represented by 1972’s commercial disaster Henry the Human Fly, but 1985’s Across a Crowded Room was only Thompson’s second post-duo album. And Thompson himself has stated that it wasn’t until he partnered with Capitol Records a few years later that his tours stopped hemorrhaging currency.

But even the most cursory of listens quickly reveals that Thompson’s touring band for these shows supporting Across a Crowded Room was a crack outfit capable of deftly supporting the boss man’s superlative material and mind-melting guitar work. Some of his old Fairport convention buddies pitched in on the album but were apparently unavailable for touring. Instead, another U.K. folk-rock stalwart, Gerry Conway of Pentangle and Fotheringay (and later Fairport) took the drum stool. Rory McFarlane stepped in on bass. But possibly the most important additions to the band were singer/guitarists Clive Gregson and Christine Collister.

Clive Gregson had recently disbanded his British power-pop band, Any Trouble; he and Collister were then just about to launch themselves as a duo more than a little influence by Richard and Linda. When they lent their well honed harmonies to Thompson’s tour, they gave him arguably the finest vocal blend he’s ever achieved onstage, giving the songs an extra push over the top.

Not that any band where Richard Thompson has a guitar in hand needs any extra assistance. Though his reputation as a guitar hero would grow even greater in the years to come, Thompson was already worshiped as a six-string superhero by his hardy cult following by this point. And he approaches his instrument with the requisite amount of magic here. “Shoot out the Lights,” which would become probably his most famous guitar showcase, was still a relative new song in his repertoire at the time, but Thompson brings as much danger, mystery, and mastery to it here as ever. With his instrument alternately rattling, roaring, murmuring, and howling, he leaps far outside the convention language of the guitar (or any other instrument, for that matter) to bring the gloriously creepy, foreboding tune to its climax.

Thompson brought the bulk of his new album onstage, which is an almost entirely positive development, since songs like the bittersweet “When the Spell is Broken,” the feverish “Fire in the Engine Room,” and the explosive “She Twists the Knife Again” are all in the top tier of his work. And while audiences in ’85 were forced to sit through the turgid, endless (and thankfully anomalous) “Love in a Faithless Country,” contemporary listeners can simply skip to the next track.

Besides all of the aforementioned plus sharpshooting versions of Richard & Linda staple classic’s like “Wall of Death,” “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight,” and “Withered and Died,” the Barrymore’s set includes a trio of tunes never heard on any other official Richard Thompson release that will catch the fancy of Thompson trainspotters (and you’d best believe he’s got his fair share of those in his audience).

Gregson and Collister each take a turn up front, the former singing “Summer Rain” from his contemporaneous solo debut album, Strange Persuasions and the latter delivering “Warm Love Gone Cold,” a song she recorded for a BBC TV adaption of Fay Weldon’s novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. But if hearing Thompson accompany somebody else doesn’t spark your plugs, the closing track undoubtedly will. Things end with a balls-out rockabilly rave-up on another tune unique to the Thompson catalog, a riotous cover of “Skull and Cross Bones” by little known ’50s rockabilly singer Sparkle Moore, serving as a reminder that in his impressionable years, the king of British folk rock spent his fair share of time soaking up American rock ‘n’ roll.

Across a Crowded Room—Live at Barrymore’s 1985 is an essential addition to the Richard Thompson discography and offers enduring testimony as to the kind of magic the man can conjure on stage.

words, thanks to rockandrollglobe.com