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  • Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson
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Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 4, 1994
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$39.80 $2.50

1. Shoot out the Lights
2. Wall of Death
3. When the Spell Is Broken
4. Turning of the Tide
5. For Shame of Doing Wrong
6. Down Where the Drunkards Roll
7. Beat the Retreat
8. Genesis Hall
9. I Misunderstood
10. The Madness of Love
11. Just the Motion
12. Valerie
13. A Heart Needs a Home
14. Dimming of the Day
15. Farewell, Farewell
16. The Great Valerio

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 4, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B000002UXJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,198 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By _ on October 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Back in 1994, when this album was released, we were in the midst of a short-lived vogue for tribute albums. A bunch of celebrity musicians would appear on these albums and offer their covers of a well-known artist's songs. As you might imagine, the results were usually mixed. Generally, though, the better the songs, the better the album turned out to be.
This is certainly true in this case. Richard Thompson is among the very best songwriters around (and a fine guitarist to boot), and this album features some of his best songs. Almost every song here is at least pretty good, with the exception of "A Heart Needs a Home", which is utterly ruined by Shawn Colvin's Whitney-Houstonesque vocal pyrotechnics. That's a shame, since it's a really great song, and a more restrained style would have done it much greater justice.
The good songs include "When the Spell is Broken", featuring some nice slide guitar by Bonnie Raitt; "The Madness of Love", in which Graham Parker sings with a spirit of tense longing typically found in Richard Thompson's music; "Turning of the Tide", in which Bob Mould sounds eerily like Richard Thompson himself; the Five Blind Boys of Alabama's cover of "Dimming of the Day"; June Tabor's version of "Beat the Retreat"; and Dinosaur Jr.'s searing rendition of "I Misunderstood", which is actually much, much better than the original, something almost unheard of in tribute albums. (Incidentally, J. Mascis seemed to appear on every single tribute album ever made, and whatever he performed, it was usually one of the highlights of the album.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Niedt on June 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This gets my vote as my favorite tribute album of all time, and in my opinion it's one of the best ever put together. Richard Thompson, a founding member of Fairport Convention who has had a devoted cult following both here in the States and in his native Britain, is a formidable songwriter, not to mention one of the best folk and rock guitarists alive. He is one of those musical talents who has unjustifiably been denied large-scale commercial success. But he probably would consider the admiration of his peers more important than that anyway, and it's shown in abundance on this collection. Contrary to the track record of most tributes, this one hasn't a weak song on it. Packed with talent, it represents a variety of styles, from the crunchy rock of Dinosaur Jr., Bob Mould and X to the quiet folk of Martin Carthy and Maddy Prior (co-founders of another classic Brit folk-rock band, Steeleye Span). Everyone grafts their own style to these songs, and mostly they are quite successful. Graham Parker's "The Madness of Love" is a highlight, as is Bonnie Raitt's "When the Spell Is Broken" (backed by the gospel greats The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, who also do a goosebump-raising version of "Dimming of the Day"). Another Brit-folk great, June Tabor, turns in a fine rendition of the title track, and David Byrne gives a restrained but effective reading of "Just the Motion". National treasure Beausoleil does a "bontemps" version of "Valerie" (which was also a country hit for another artist whose name escapes me). The closest to missteps here are from two of my favorite bands. Los Lobos' "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" is so low-key as to be almost somnambulant; and in R.E.M.'s version of "Wall of Death", Michael Stipe's phrasing seems clumsy to me - I much prefer Nanci Griffith?s cover of that tune. Overall, though, this is an affectionate and well-conceived tribute to an artist who easily deserves it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I imagine the only thing that would have pleased Richard Thompson more in receiving this tribute would have been to toast a few pints with the gentlepeople involved. Perhaps he did.
I am familiar with the Richard Thompson catalog ("Shoot out the Lights" having special significance to me), but I am by no means a fanatic or completist. Given the self-deprecating sense of humor which comes through in his lyrics, I have to doubt that even RT would take himself so seriously.
Remember: this wasn't meant to be an introduction to Richard Thompson, it's "tribute" to him by folks who obviously admire his songwriting, and as such its a damn fine piece of work.
If, like me, you're lacking a canonical knowledge of his works, you probably won't quibble with what was done to these to tunes anyway, so you'll just listen to them. And you'll find every tune included in this collection given a fine and proper go. The musicianship shows incredible craftsmanship, the renditions are heartfelt, and the production is pristine. Special props go to the Los Lobos, Beausoleil and Shawn Colvin/Loudon Wainwright tracks.
I was sad to see this is out out-of-print as I see this not solely as a tribute to Mr. Thompson, but also as a chance for folks to hear artists on the collection who don't get a lot of attention (the aforementioned Beausoleil, for one).
Look for it used, and buy it if you can. If you're a folky/artsy/roots fan you'll definitely enjoy it. We can then at least put back an imaginary pint or two with RT & friends at the pub in our minds in celebration of this loving tribute.
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