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Small Town Romance


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Audio CD, November 4, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Audio CD release.

Amazon.com

Spanning the artist's career from 1967 to 1982, Small Town Romance is a delightful introduction for the neophyte and a necessity for even the most casual Richard Thompson fan. This warm, clear-sounding live disc, recorded at the Bottom Line and Folk City in New York in '82, shows the singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter in top solo form following the dissolution of his partnership with wife Linda. One caveat: Thompson's vocal delivery--especially on songs that Linda used to sing, such as "A Heart Needs a Home" and "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight"--is a tad rough. One assumes this is the reason Thompson (according to label head Joe Boyd) asked for the record to stay out of print for a number of years. But such minor quirks invariably happen in live performances, and the missed note here and the cough there add to the record's charm. Thompson has rarely sounded as nimble-fingered (on the terrifically show-offy "Roll Over Vaughn Williams") as he does here, nor as emotionally in touch with his songs. Highlights include a heart-tugging rendition of "Down Where the Drunkards Roll," the jokey jig "Woman or a Man," and forceful takes on two Fairport classics, the anthemic "Meet on the Ledge" and the lovely "Genesis Hall." --Mike McGonigal

1. Time To Ring Some Changes
2. Beat The Retreat
3. Woman Or A Man?
4. A Heart Needs A Home
5. For Shame Of Doing Wrong
6. Genesis Hall
7. Honky-Tonk Blues
8. Small Town Romance
9. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
10. Down Where The Drunkards Roll
11. Love Is Bad For Business
12. The Great Valerio
13. Don't Let a Thief Steal Into Your Heart
14. Never Again
15. How Many Times Do You Have To Fall?
16. Roll Over Vaughan Williams (Instrumental)
17. Meet On The Ledge

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 4, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: 1984
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hannibal
  • ASIN: B00000063L
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,965 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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performance of "Haul Me Up" with Greeting

Biography

No artist to emerge in the second half of the ’60s has gone on to have a more productive and vital career than Richard Thompson. The England-born, L.A.-based artist has amassed an astounding body of work comprising more than 40 albums, containing artfully shaped material that seamlessly and expressively integrates traditional and contemporary modes. And Thompson is among the most ... Read more in Amazon's Richard Thompson Store

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Customer Reviews

The sound quality is fine.
Philip D. Parshall
The flaws also add considerable charm to performances that are still formative and raw.
Wayne Klein
"Roll Over, Vaughn Williams" is one of the best guitar solos RT does.
R. Kyle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. Guetti on October 18, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Having previously heard only one Richard Thompson record before this one, I had a lot more to choose from. I picked Small Town Romance because, being a solo fingerstyle acoustic guitarist myself, I especially wanted something I could learn from. To say that I was not disappointed would be a huge understatement, and even after Mock Tudor (see my review of that one) I was more impressed than I expected to be. The only thing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars is the decidedly rough production quality: the vocals are much louder than the precious guitar I especially wanted to listen to, and other listeners might find that important as well, since this is after all just Thompson and his acoustic. However, the bootleggish sound quality and unashamed selection of material (including a couple of nasty throat-clearings from Thompson, who sounds a bit under the weather) are as much strengths as weaknesses: it gives you a chance to hear that Thompson seems incapable of sounding bad, no matter what the circumstances. "Time to Ring Some Changes" is crisp and strong, and an unusually straight protest song for an artist whose songs, even the social commentaries, are usually so deeply personal. "Beat the Retreat", "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" and "Never Again" are achingly sad, heartrendingly sweet and filled with wry love (and all the more honest for the aforementioned throat-clearing). "Honky Tonk Blues", a Hank Williams cover (!), features a bi-octave guitar solo that has so much punch it may FORCE you to dance. The rendition of "The Great Valerio" is spooky and bleak, like being alone in a crowd at a carnival.Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is a good, but overrated, live set. Thompson himself didn't want it in circulation for years after its short-lived initial release because he was dissatisfied with the album. And he has a point. What's wrong? The songs? No. The performances? Nope. It's just the dull sound that lets it down. Anyone who's seen RT playing acoustic in a club knows how bright and crisp his brilliant guitar playing sounds. For whatever reason, it doesn't come through here. The guitar just isn't recorded well or mixed in proper relation to his singing, and he ends up sounding like an ordinary folk guitarist too much of the time--albeit one with great, cutting songs. So the problem is not so much what it sounds like, but knowing what it *could* have sounded like. So the answer is simple: He needs to record a new acoustic live album. *Then* he can put this one out of print. But for now, it's good to have it, flawed sound and all.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD
There are several reasons for longtime Richard Thompson fans to rejoice at the rerelease of this 1984 album recorded at the Bottom Line and Folk City in New York.
1. Many of these songs take on an added emotional quality from the studio versions when presented here by Thompson accompanied only on his own acoustic guitar, especially on songs like "Beat the Retreat." Also, many of these songs were originally sung by Thompson's former wife Linda. Hearing him sing songs like "Down Where the Drunkards Roll" deepen the intensity of the song.
2. Thompson is an amazing guitar player, but his studio albums rarely allow him to showcase his skills on the acoustic guitar. Listen especially to "Woman or a Man?" and the instrumental version of "Roll Over Vaughn Williams."
3. Other than the box set Watching the Dark (which contains the same version), this live album was the only place you could get the splendid "Small Town Romance."
Thompson obviously enjoys playing live and his self-deprecating wit shines through. [He introduces "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight" as being "a medley of our greatest hit."] This CD reissue also adds three bonus tracks: "How Many Times Do I Have To Fall," "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" and "Meet On the Ledge." While there may be a missed note here and there, it is still a joy to hear Thompson in this relaxed setting. RECOMMENDED
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Though a Richard and Linda Thompson's fan, I had never tried to find this one. RT himself said he didn't want it to be released, and I thought "Well, he's the artist after all, he should know ."
What's more, the Bright Lights songs were kind of sacred to me, and I was very sceptical about his singing Linda's tracks. The idea bothered me, in fact.
But then I got a chance to listen to the record .. and I really liked it.
What this guy does with only a guitar and a voice is truly amazing. You really feel as if he's playing in your living room, and that's great. My favorite track is Time to bring some changes. It's all the more emotional as (I think) he'd just separated from his wife.
A heart needs a home & The great Valerio are both interesting alternate versions. I found his rendering rather good.
Down where.. and Never again obviously do not attain the power of the old (Never again is one of my favourite Linda's vocals). I think they are the two missed ones on the record - but then, these two are best suited to a high pitched voice. Don't even try them if you're a man with a low voice (whether he really chose them, or just did them because he was asked to and she wasn't here anymore .. is another story).
I am not very much into Fairport, but the Fairport stuff he sings here sounds rather good, actually.
My only quibble is that the sequencing makes it a bit tiring to listen to all the tracks one after another - it's much better if you do your own selection with the skip forward button.
On the whole, Small town romance is a very enjoyable experience .. especially if, like me, you live in a place where you'd never see such good acoustic performances
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