Richard Thompson

In box

Phases & Stages

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson: Walking on a Wire (1968-2009) (Shout! Factory)

Anthologizing Richard Thompson finally got it right. First came 1993's Watching the Dark. With odd sequencing and many previously unreleased tracks, some rejected it. 2006's RT from UK folk label Free Reed was an unruly five-disc mess for obsessives only. Walking on a Wire does what a box set should: presents the artist's music in mostly chronological order while shining a light on the English songwriter-guitarist's most important work and best-loved songs, unraveling why his musical literature merits this 4-CD overview and all the others. Thompson's recorded career begins with pioneering British folkies Fairport Convention, given short shrift here with only five tracks, although the mighty "Sloth" still shakes the rafters. Rightly his work with wife Linda is expanded upon heartily. Their 1982 swan song Shoot Out the Lights takes center stage with the startling drama of the title track. From there it's almost all solo work, with Thompson's magnificent guitar-playing (catch the incendiary solo on the seeming throwaway "Valerie") and, at times, wry, often hard-hitting stories marrying folk, jazz, rock, and the occasional waltz into a truly alternative, unpredictable, absorbing whole. Thompson biographer Patrick Humphries offers a splendid snapshot of the story behind the music in his liner notes, and the remastered sound is crystal clear. With nothing in the way of previously unreleased material, Walking on a Wire won't tempt completists, but for neophytes and fans alike, it's a treasure chest of some of the most exceptional songwriting and musicianship of the past 40 years.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Richard Thompson
SXSW 2013 Records
Richard Thompson
Electric (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, March 15, 2013

Spotlight: Richard Thompson
Spotlight: Richard Thompson
10pm, Antone's

Dan Oko, March 15, 2013

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
A. Sinclair
Catpaws (Record Review)

Libby Webster, Feb. 8, 2019

Texas Platters
Rob Baird
After All (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Richard Thompson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle