Richard Thompson – Acoustic Rarities

Album Review | Beeswing Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Released ahead of his autumn tour, Richard Thompson revisits some of the more obscure songs from his back catalogue.  We really have to go back to 1976 for his very first career retrospective, the Island double set Guitar/Vocal, which saw the release of a collection of live recordings, studio outtakes and assorted rarities including material with his former band Fairport Convention and duo songs with his then wife Linda.  Here though, fourteen of his lesser known songs are re-recorded with sparse acoustic arrangements following the lead of both Acoustic Classics I and II, recently released on Beeswing Records.  There are no less than six previously unreleased songs rubbing shoulders with the so called ‘rarities’, however we do see the re-emergence of some of the more memorable songs from Thompson’s impressive back catalogue, such as the Henry the Human Fly-period “Poor Ditching Boy”, with Thompson’s familiar mandolin/guitar/accordion arrangement, Bright Lights‘ “End of the Rainbow”, just as sparse and melancholic as originally planned, and Hokey Pokey’s “Never Again”, originally performed by Linda Thompson back in the day, each of which sounds surprisingly new and fresh once again.  Of the unreleased material, we find Thompson in Bretchian mode with the highly theatrical “I Must Have a March”, and again in delightfully playful mood with his homage to the legendary Alexander Graham Bell.  For completists there is a return to that earlier Island release, with the inclusion of “Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman”, although I would imagine for the completist or die-hard Fairport fan, it’s the new reading of Sloth, complete with overdubbed harmony vocal that will be seen as a valuable addition to their record collection.