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Richard Thompson - 1000 Years of Popular Music (2 CD & 1 DVD Set) Live

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Richard Thompson - guitar & vocals Michael Jerome - percussion Judith Owen - vocals The idea for this project came from Playboy Magazine - I was asked to submit a list, in late 1999, of the ten greatest songs of the Millenium. Hah! I thought, hypocrites - they don't mean millennium, they mean twenty years - I'll call their bluff and do a real thousand-year selection. My list was similar to the choices here on this CD, starting in about 1068, and winding slowly up to 2001. That they failed to print my list among others submitted by rock's luminaries, is but a slight wound - it gave me the idea for this show, which has been performed occasionally, and will hopefully receive a few more airings. The idea is that Popular Music comes in many forms, through many ages, and as older forms get superceded, sometimes the baby is thrown out with the bathwater - great ideas, tunes, rhythms, styles, get left in the dust of history, so let's have a look at what's back there, and see if still does the trick. I am unqualified to sing 98% of the material here, but me having a go could be considered part of the fun. Also, trying to render an Arthur Sullivan orchestration with acoustic guitar and snare drum is pretty desperate stuff, but may, at a stretch, be thought charming. What appears on this CD is a performance, rather than a chronological, distillation of several different shows - hence some gaps in the 17th and 18th centuries, and too much weight on Music Hall and Rock & Roll - we just felt that some performances weren't quite captured - perhaps on Part Two?

As Richard Thompson explains in his typically droll annotation, 1000 Years of Popular Music came about after Playboy asked various musicians to rank their top ten songs of the millennium. While most dipped no farther back than a few decades--a century at most--Thompson's musical memory rose to the challenge. The result is this concert set's encapsulation of 22 songs that trace a musical progression from the Middle Ages through Britney Spears, with Judith Owen and Debra Dobkin providing spare instrumental and rich vocal support. Released as a concert DVD with two audio CDs, the selection is irrepressibly idiosyncratic, from rounds, madrigals, and British balladry that recall Thompson's early days in Fairport Convention through the music-hall singalong of "I Live in Trafalgar Square" to dips into the songbooks of the Kinks ("See My Friends"), Squeeze ("Tempted"), and Bowling for Soup ("1985"). Among the highlights are the soulful tenderness of the 17th century's "Bonnie St. Johnstone," a haunting "Shenandoah," a samba arrangement of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and a deliriously rocking rendition of the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind." --Don McLeese

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sumer Is Icumen In
  2. King Henry
  3. So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
  4. Bonnie St. Johnstone
  5. O Sleep Fond Fancy
  6. Remember O Thou Man
  7. O Shenandoah
  8. Blackleg Miner
  9. I Live In Trafalger Square
  10. There is Beauty In the Bellow of the Blast
  11. Java Jive

Disc: 2

  1. Night and Day
  2. Orange Coloured Sky
  3. Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-Dee
  4. A-11
  5. See My Friends
  6. Friday On My Mind
  7. Tempted
  8. Oops!...I Did It Again
  9. Cry Me A River
  10. 1985
  11. Sam Hall

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 27, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • ASIN: B000EHQ7I8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,284 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By svf on June 28, 2006
Format: Audio CD
What began as Richard Thompson's cheekily literal response to Playboy when asked to name the "Ten Greatest Songs of the Millennium" has blossomed into something of a cottage industry for the cult folk/rock hero, spawning a concert tour, a limited edition CD, and now even a DVD.

And this is cause for celebration, because even though Mr. Thompson humbly asserts that "I am unqualified to sing 98% of the material here," you'd be hard-pressed to find another performer with the talent, intellect, and wit required to present this diverse and eclectic collection of songs in such an enjoyable and entertaining way.

A project like this could have easily descended into a tedious, winking, postmodern concert-length joke, and certainly Thompson and his troupe have a little fun with Gilbert & Sullivan and Britney Spears -- who wouldn't? But what ultimately makes 1,000 Years work so well is the sincerity and respect with which all of this material is treated, from Elizabethan ballads to coal miner songs to Shenandoah to Nat King Cole to Squeeze. The trio even manage to convincingly perform an a capella madrigal!

While about half of this "popular music" is understandably rooted in the 20th century, Thompson also adapts an impressive collection of tunes from the other 900 years of the past millennium (the ones that Playboy apparently wasn't very interested in), aided only by the back-up vocals, percussion, and occasional (and usually unnecessary) keyboards of Debra Dobkin and/or Judith Owen.

This backing duo (not exactly a "band") provides tasteful and unobtrusive accompaniment when needed. The only misfire occurs when Ms.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael 'De Smurführer' Thomsen on July 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The first two Richard Thompson live dvd's were marred by slightly uninspiring song selections and fairly basic camera work. But third time's the charm - this lovely dvd presentation of Thompson's "1000 Years of Popular Music" show is simply one of the most essential items in his entire catalogue - along with "Henry the Human Fly", "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight", "Shoot Out the Lights", "The Old Kit Bag" and "Rumor and Sigh". And it's essential not only for Thompson fans, but for just about anyone who's interested in the history of popular music. Starting with old English folk song "Summer is a-cumming in" (which was also sung at the climax of 70s horror movie classic The Wicker Man), and ending with a version of "1985" (a download hit for the group Bowling for Soup a few months prior to this recording) and in between covering everything from English music hall, Gilbert & Sullivan, jazz standards and merseybeat - this is a wonderful selection of haunting songs. No, you won't find any of Richard Thompson's legendary electric guitar workouts on here, and you won't find any of his own songs, even though many of them could have matched the timeless quality of the great stuff that IS on here - but the dvd DOES manage to present Thompson as one of the most plain enjoyable live performers in the world. And it's all packaged in a lovely box with artwork, song notes and two bonus cd's. Now if only they'd do a presentation of Thompson's OWN song catalogue in this format - and that's a hint, in case any of the people responsible for this great set happen to be reading this.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By ewomack VINE VOICE on September 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This project originated out of rejection. A true non-reflection of life if ever one existed. Once upon a time, Playboy coveted Thompson's list of "the millenium's best songs". That is, until they saw it. This list included such chart toppers as "Sumer Is Icumen In" from 1260, "King Henry V's Conquest of France" from the 15th century, "Blackleg Miner" from the 19th century, and the bizarre Nat King Cole swinger "Orange Colored Sky". Then reality inverted. One of the least curmudgeonly magazines greeted Thompson's list with an icy silence. Perhaps they felt that those musty old songs would clash with the eternal blaze of naked airbrushed youth? Unflinching, Thompson turned to an art older than some of this set's songs: Alchemy. He miraculously turned what Playboy construed as poo into gleaming bullion. This shaft truly led to gold. So much so that Thompson has hit the road with his "1000 Years of Popular Music" twice.

Music is dang old, after all. Greeks and Romans rocked out. Medieval madrigals, armed with lutes and windpipes, pranced through verdant forests. Even Victorians danced. So why relegate hundred of years of great tunes to the sadly cobwebbed "early music" section? You know what they say: old songs never die, they just receive damning new retail categories. In defiance, Thompson dipped into this neglected slush pile of human all too human music and constructed a millenium set list that would make the Long Now Foundation proud.

Flanked by vocalist/keyboardist, and part mime, Judith Owen and percussionist/vocalist Debra Dobkin, the Thompson-led trio jiggle cochleas through musical history. They open with one of humanity's oldest songs: "Sumer Is Icumen In". A celebration of the rebirth of spring, it also includes a middle english word for "fart". Now that's history.
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