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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still vital after all these years
This album makes perfect sense. Thompson has never cared for fussy studio production and excels in a live setting, so why not record new material in front of an audience? The recording is excellent, the arrangements are clear and the songs are as strong as any set he's produced in his solo career.

Thompson's songwriting is always masterful at worst. I'd quibble...
Published on September 2, 2010 by Mark Twang

versus
28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take it down a notch
I'm a big Richard Thompson fan and this is a good album, but the 5 star reviews are a little over the top so I wanted to take it down a notch. First let me offer some due praise. The idea of recording live in front of an audience is done to excellent effect. The crowd is down in the mix and the performance is a naturalistic welcome alternative to the overly perfect...
Published on September 17, 2010 by B. Rodrigues


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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still vital after all these years, September 2, 2010
By 
Mark Twang (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
This album makes perfect sense. Thompson has never cared for fussy studio production and excels in a live setting, so why not record new material in front of an audience? The recording is excellent, the arrangements are clear and the songs are as strong as any set he's produced in his solo career.

Thompson's songwriting is always masterful at worst. I'd quibble that around the mid-80s he began to repeat himself, as if trying to perfect a certain template. So you get lots of variations on love gone wrong songs, the jaunty, the morose, the false friends songs, the social broadsides. Any classics here? "Sidney Wells" might be his best serial killer song ever. Thompson's scansion is razor sharp, the irony delicious, the rhythm propulsive, the guitar outro ferocious. It's one helluva story song. There seem to be even more songs than usual informed by British folk traditions in structure, style and rhythm. That hasn't always worked ("MGB-GT") but here the musical anachronisms mesh perfectly with the almost all electric rock band. Drummer Michael Jerome, forceful and versatile, has proven himself to be an invaluable asset in recent years.

And if it's Thompson's brilliant, scalding guitar playing you're hankering for, you will not be disappointed. For myself, some of Thompson's studio albums don't have enough guitar ("Mock Tudor", "Amnesia"). But for a gray bearded geezer his playing has been fiercely reinvigorated of late, and there's some breathtaking stuff here. The addition of Joel Zifkin on violin gives Thompson a versatile foil in many arrangements, their interplay on the haunting "Burning Man" is terrific. Some reviewers have complained the set doesn't rock hard enough, but it seems as even handed as any Thompson effort, and in fact rocks harder than most.

Though there's some spare moody stuff, the only unplugged piece is "Among the Gorse" and Thompson doesn't play guitar on it, it's fiddle driven. While it would have been nice to hear some of his acoustic fingerpicking, I can't really gripe when we only get RT electric every few years. The album closes with yet another hard luck love song, "If Love Whispers Your Name". Longtime listeners are way familiar with RT's unsentimental assays on affairs of the heart. But as the lovely, sad waltz melody uncoils under a litany of disappointment Thompson turns the tables on us: "Love is worth every wound / each lonely day / each sleepless night / the price that you pay / to live in the light". Coming from this guy, the affirmation is almost shocking, extraordinary. It's tough, impassioned and winds up to a caterwauling guitar solo of harsh, thrilling beauty. In other words, it's Thompson at his absolute best.

While I'd never want to see RT put on the pedestal of popular acclaim like Dylan or Clapton, he's getting enough visibility that friends who 25 years ago thought I was a raving lunatic pushing "Shoot Out the Lights" on them have come around. "Yeah", they admit, "He's pretty good".

Yeah, he is.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenominal as always but....., September 2, 2010
By 
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
Do yourself a favor and order the two disc deluxe edition from Amazon UK- only a few dollars more and worth every cent.Disc two contains accoustic demos of the songs on the main disc.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...plays his guitar like ringing a bell" (double-album review), September 8, 2010
By 
Stephen Foster (Seattle, WA United States, via Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
A very good live album, with brilliantly-clear sound that is above the quality of most live albums. I attended the "rehearsal" concert in Seattle and can report that the album sounds significantly better than that live concert did, both in the songs' tightness and the sound quality (and I was there in the front row, looking right up His Nostrils). The band is all together and trying to deliver to the audience, but on the CD that audience is only apparent for a few seconds at the end of each song. It's about the most minimal "live" album I've ever heard, with all of the crowd's spirit inspiring the band, while remaining almost inaudible. Well, would you rather hear an enthusiastic crowd, or RT?

It's mostly an upbeat, rocking album, but with something for everyone. I see complaints here that it's not more rockin', but different times of the day call for different moods, and there's a Richard Thompson for all of them. At a concert, the rockers rule, as they should. This album has plenty, and the changed lineup here is tight and fast. But sometimes (most times actually) I prefer the slow, morose and miserable RT, like "King of Bohemia" and especially "Taking My Business Elsewhere." There are a couple of tracks here that add to that prime morose lexicon, like "If Love Whispers Your Name", even though the optimistic lyrics don't sound anything like the Richard Thompson we know and love.

I only have the single album, and am currently suffering real buyer's remorse for not splashing on the double album, containing acoustic "demos" of all the songs. Now I'm probably going to have to buy the damn thing twice.

[Quick update: I quickly splashed on the double album, and the second album is acoustic versions of the same songs with (probably) the same band. The little information available describes it as "acoustic demos", but that's ridiculous because it qualifies as one of RTs best albums, much better than the electric version. The (slightly quieter) RT many of us have come to love over the last 40-odd years comes through better than anything he's done this millennium. "Big Sun" and "Stumble on" particularly come into their own, here. (The import price in the US is ridiculous; far better order it direct from amazon.co.uk for less than twenty dollars, INCLUDING shipping to the US)]

But back to the topic of the RT we know and love: this album is chock-full of the incandescent, ethereal, fire-breathing solos that always fit precisely in with the current song and also always electrify. His fingers have lost nothing, and gained much, over the last forty years. Much better to be camped out in the front row for those solos, because then they become a remembered event in one's life, whereas this is just a good album to listen to. A really good one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RT Does it Again!, September 9, 2010
By 
applewood (everywhere and nowhere) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
Having seen Thompson and Band at the first show of this West Coast tour this past winter I knew these songs were going to be good, (what I'm glad to discover now is how good they sound recorded and mixed). What I'd forgotten in the intervening months is how good the band played and how well the new songs fit into his vast body of work... this is classic RT, like he has sounded for....well, several decades now. It is amazing how, that for such a stellar songsmith and guitar player, he always seems to sound best live. And in this case the way he wrote an album's worth of new material, rehearsed it (with his capable/affable band of comrades) and hit the road to record it for the first time, shows us he is one of us, needing to stretch his dollars as much as he can, find a new way to make and share music. And it shows his total confidence in his art.

My favorite songs here are Demons In Her Dancing Shoes (Backstreet Slide-ish), Big Sun Falling In The River (pop perfection), Stumble On (an obligatory RT mellow lost-love song in the vein of I Still Dream), Sidney Wells (a Johnny's Far Away sounding jig about a creepy killer, propelled by killer manic sopranino sax playing from Zorn), and If Love Whispers Your Name (yet another lost-love song....with an extended, intense, building guitar solo - classic RT!).

This isn't new ground musically, but for any Richard Thompson fan that's just fine.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take it down a notch, September 17, 2010
By 
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
I'm a big Richard Thompson fan and this is a good album, but the 5 star reviews are a little over the top so I wanted to take it down a notch. First let me offer some due praise. The idea of recording live in front of an audience is done to excellent effect. The crowd is down in the mix and the performance is a naturalistic welcome alternative to the overly perfect digital studio recordings that dominate the market. Also, the critical praise for tasteful guitar solos is wholly warranted, especially on the songs "Burning Man", "Crimescene" and the magnificent "If Love Whispers Your Name", the best and final track on the album. I'm also very fond of "Among the Gorse, Among the Grey" and "A Brother Slips Away".

Now the bad news. Opening track "Money Shuffle" is plodding with a weak melody. "Haul Me Up" is a second-rate version of "Cooksferry Queen", and "Here Comes Geordie" is best enjoyed if you're a leprechaun. The worst song on the album should be apparent to all on first play; the embarrassing "Billie Jean" rip-off "Big Sun Falling In The River". Truly horrid. "Sidney Wells" is ok, but sounds too much like The Dropkick Murphys trying to charm a snake at a South Boston police funeral. To round out the suffering, "Bad Again" is like a Traveling Willbury's out take of "I Fought the Law". I'd like to give it 3.5 stars, but a 3 should help make the average a little more plausible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe Edition of Dream Attic, February 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Do you like Richard Thompson?
If so, you should have this Double CD.
One CD is mostly electric and the other is mostly acoustic.
They are both excellent.
Richard Thompson is amazing, a most creative guitarist with a unique voice.
This CD must be part of your Richard Thompson collection!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't think acoustic guitars rust., December 9, 2012
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
When initially released, "Dream Attic" got quite a luke-warm reaction from the music critics; I for one, was not overly impressed by Thompson's latest offering.
But over the last couple of years, this record has slowly grown on me (I'm glad I didn't write a review when It was first released!), & certainly stands up with the records Thompson was recording in the 1990's.
You get the usual mix of light & dark moods, with fascinating lyrics, although I can't see the point of Thompson playing the songs live, as most of his music has a live feel anyway.
So defiantly a CD if you stick with, will eventually bear fruit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the performance, October 20, 2010
By 
BilMit "BilMit" (Worcester, MA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
I'm a long time RT fan. Even though his albums have been a bit spotty post-Mock Tudor (when was the last time I listened to Front Parlour Ballads?), I still pre-order every new RT CD. I was initially unimpressed with Dream Attic. But after repeated listenings, I found myself drawn-in by the performances.
The songs themselves are not the strongest Richard Thompson has crafted (and, in fairness, he has created so many great songs that perhaps I have unrealistic expectations for each new album), but the energy, RT's strong vocals and his relentess guitar solos, and the band (especially Joel Zifkin on electric violin and mandolin, and Pete Zorn on everything else) simply shine.
The weakest songs are "The Money Shuffle" - another one-joke song (like "I Agree with Pat Metheny")that is fun, but is too topical to fit on an album; "Here Comes Geordie" - an energetic but cheap and mean spirited song; and " Among The Gorse, Among The Grey", sounding too familarly dreary.
Two songs would make great covers for other performers - "Bad Again" could be an actual country pop hit for someone like Faith Hill or Kenny Chesney, and I can hear in my head the gospel spirtual-ish "Haul Me Up' performed by the Holmes Brothers.
The stand outs - "If Love Whispers Your Name" is probably his most romantic song, the lyrics advising you to give your self over to love, seemingly counter to almost every other song he's written; "A Brother Slips Away", an elegy to friends who have passed away, and, if you ever hear him perform it live, is obviously personal and heartfelt; and "Sydney Wells", a musical retelling of the crimes and punishment of a sociopathic serial killer.
Were this a studio album, the songs on Dream Attic may sound like rejects from "Sweet Warrior", but the live performamce elevates this album to among Richard Thomspon's best of the decade.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great playing, average songwriting, January 1, 2012
By 
A guy from Philly (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dream Attic (Audio CD)
The musicianship on this album is top notch and a return to prime Thompson, circa Daring Adventures. The songwriting, however, is largely derivative of Thompson's early '80s work and not all that compelling. Say what you will about the production on albums like Rumor & Sigh, Mirror Ball and Mock Tudor, the songwriting was possibly the best of the great man's career. These tracks are Sunny Vista quality, which is to say that as a big RT fan, I'm happy to have them, but none will become my favorites.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Thompson--"Dream Attic"--Deluxe Edition--Cd, October 23, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great Price on the Deluxe Edition cd--by a Great/underated Guitar Player-
Richard Thompson. It's to bad releases like this doesn't get more air-play. Here in
the states only on a Station like "XM/Sirius"--Radio--or KCRW--here in Los Angeles.
(Station is in the city of Santa Monica)--So if you wanna hear some Tasty Guitar playing,
With some catchy songs. This is worth the price and the time taken to listen to this Deluxe
Edition or the single one--if your not yet a hugh fan--is still fine.
If you get the chance--go see Richard and the guys play live.
Cd came in the mail in a timely Fashion. Thanks
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Dream Attic
Dream Attic by Richard Thompson (Audio CD - 2010)
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