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The Old Kit Bag

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Audio CD, May 6, 2003
$3.95 $1.39

Dawes Dawes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Thompson is one of the master musicians & storytellers of the 60s British rock scene. Seminal releases with Fairport Convention & 30+ years of solo albums & assorted collaborations (Zeppelin, Hendrix, Floyd, Bonnie Raitt, etc.) mark an eclectic & uncompro

After a string of slick albums that de-emphasized his folk-rock past, The Old Kit Bag marks a return to Thompson's indie-label roots. Produced by John Chelew (John Hiatt, Blind Boys of Alabama), it was recorded quickly with a minimum of overdubs and just a handful of musicians (double-bassist Danny Thompson, drummer Michael Jerome, and background vocalist Judith Owen). Fortunately, this spare approach serves Thompson well because he's such a strong and varied songwriter plus a remarkably distinctive guitarist. Longtime fans will likely gravitate to the musical equivalents of comfort food--the weepy ballad "Happy Days and Auld Lang Syne," the revved-up rocker "I'll Tag Along," and the brooding melancholy of "First Breath." Yet subsequent listens reveal the subtler charms of a gorgeous jazz-pop ballad, "I've Got No Right to Have It All," and the righteous anger of "Outside of the Inside," on which Thompson, a devout Muslim, attacks the moral emptiness of religious fanaticism. Thirty-five years after his debut with Fairport Convention, Thompson proves that he's yet to exhaust his store of ideas or his will to challenge himself and others. --Keith Moerer

1. Gethsemane
2. Jealous Words
3. I'll Tag Along
4. A Love You Can't Survive
5. One Door Opens
6. First Breath
7. She Said It Was Destiny
8. I've Got No Right To Have It All
9. Pearly Jim
10. Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen
11. Outside of the Inside
12. Happy Days and Auld Lang Syne

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 6, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2003
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: spinART Records
  • ASIN: B00008XRXX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,261 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Paul Frandano on May 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
A prefatory disclaimer: I'm wholly in the tank for Richard Thompson. Have been for 20 years. I have everything he's done but the fan club stuff and the most obscure sides as a supporting player (and wouldn't rate anything at less than 3 stars). I have heard most of these songs over the past 9 months in three live performances and am in the position - not unusual, but unusual for me - of knowing, and loving, a body of music before I'd heard the artist's recordings of his own work. I am not an impartial witness.
And I love this album. In its variety, spareness, emotional intensity, and simple beauty, it rivals any single album Thompson has done since the fabled Shoot Out the Lights. I have seen some reviews that describe The RT Band of this recording as a "power trio" a la Cream or Mountain (sic) (I know - a quartet). If one had only heard the second track, the scalding "Jealous Words," one might credibly carry this point. But Thompson here displays all his influences - Celtic, Scottish, Middle Eastern, American (jazz, blues, rock, pop) Caribbean - in brilliantly realized, lapidary tracks. And The Old Kit Bag also has Thompson's obligatory shot - two very good ones, actually -at a commercial single (the haunting "Gethsemene" and the rousing "She Said It Was Destiny").
Fans expecting guitar pyrotechnics - Thompson's signature wheeling, careering, soaring, jagged figures and explorations - are unlikely to be disappointed, but little here would qualify as fiery and, throughout, Thompson exhibits an extraordinary, albeit dense and imaginative, restraint. This I must attribute to the spare format and the tasteful production of John Chelew (Los Lobos, Blind Boys of Alabama), who put Thompson's boundless good musical taste on excellent display with the minimum take sessions.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Richard Thompson is so far ahead of the game when it comes to songwriting, guitar-playing and general musicianship it can seem downright unfair. For those of us who have been listening to him for years, it also sets the bar extraordinarily high any time he embarks on a new project because our expectations are inevitably sky-high. It took a few listens for me to become truly enthused by this album, but at this point I can say my initial wariness was merely a symptom of the material's complexity and consistent ambition. Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen and I'll Tag Along were the songs I found most accessible; Jealous Words and Outside of the Inside the ones I had to work a bit to love, not just admire. Now I'm a fan of them all. The production on this album is even more pared down than its immediate predecessor, Mock Tudor, but just as fresh and uncluttered; it buzzes with much of the energy of Thompson's legendary live performances. Judith Owen's backup vocals are particularly welcome; I'm one who thinks Thompson's voice can do with a bit of leavening from time to time, and he hasn't duetted this serenely since the Linda era.
Quite a few reviewers here have wrestled with the question of where this album ranks in the Thompson oeuvre. But honestly, who cares? This is gorgeous stuff, dense, layered, immensely satisfying, like a bottle of wine from the Arabian Nights you can keep drinking and never exhaust. One of the pleasures of Thompson's broad grasp of music and musical history is that he can sound groundbreaking for 2003, or groundbreaking circa 1596, or even -- strange, but true -- both of these at the same time. Richard Thompson is truly a minstrel in rocker's clothing, and Old Kit Bag, like so much of his work, is both playful and dark, as sweet as it is weighed down by the accumulated melancholy of centuries. Oops, he hath done it again.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
OLD KIT BAG may not be the most groundbreaking record of Richard Thompson's career but "Gethsemane" is strong start to a vital album. The song might just prove to be another Thompson classic, the kind of thing that can bring down the house live.
Unlike previous releases, the production does it's best to keep out of the way. The sparseness of it all allowing for Thompson's signature guitar to play howling wind round the gallows humor of his lyrics.
"Jealous Words" is vintage "oil" & vineger Thompson while passionately brooding epics like "A Love You Can't Survive" are likely to send a shiver down your spine. For fans of Thompson's folksier side, OLD KIT BAG could be considered a return to form. The dulcimer driven, "One Door Opens" being a highlight. "I've Got No Right To Have It All" is as gorgeous as it gets and the gleefully ominous, "Pearly Jim" conjures up the glories of Thompson's FULL HOUSE days. The world weary closer, "Happy days & Auld Lang Syne" gives "Waltzing's For Dreamers" a run for it's money, ending the album on a dutifully maudlin note.
So, OLD KIT BAG may not be the most ambitious record of his career, but he sticks to his guns. As uncomprimising as ever, Thompson delievers the goods on this one. Long time fans will be far from disappointed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William M. Feagin on March 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD brilliant and biting as ever, and no disappointment for the longtime Thompson fan. I had the good luck of picking this one up in England when it was released at the beginning of February, and I can say conclusively that The Old Kit Bag truly stands with Thompson's best albums (e.g. Bright Lights, Shoot Out the Lights, Rumor and Sigh). It is a very stripped down work--just a trio, with the occasional backing vocals--but with all of the intensity of the aforementioned albums. "A Love You Can't Survive" is my favorite track--RT howls in despair while cutting you to the marrow with his stinging Strat leads. While I understand the American version and the Japanese release contain (or will contain) bonus tracks, I can't imagine what else would be necessary to make this album worth every penny you pay for it. Get it *yesterday*.
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