Monday 21 September 2015

Underrated? Are you sure about that?

The OBE. How more rated can you get?
Richard Thompson, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and owner of many fine berets, is back on the road (when is he not?) and, once again, every journalist who writes a review or interviews him is reaching for the u word: underrated. And nobody breaks rank. Some even go the whole hog and prefix it with another word: criminally. Criminally underrated? By who exactly?

His fans? I don't think so. Thompson sells out wherever he plays. And he plays on most continents at sometime during the year. Has done for years - to a fan base most artists can only dream about.

His peers? Hardly - take a look at who covers his songs: Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, REM, Loudon Wainwright, David Gilmour, Graham Parker; the list is endless.

The critics? If you rounded up all the scribes writing for the music press, broadsheets, blogs and fanzines who have ever given Thompson anything less than a 4 star rating and then add to them all the movers and shakers in radio and music television who don't speak about him in gushing terms, you'll probably fit them all on the back seat of a taxi. With room to spare.

Another award for the criminally underrated Richard Thompson
Then there's the Ivor Novello awards, and the BBC Folk Awards: Thompson's part of the furniture at most of these shindigs. Oh, and don't forget all the guitar magazine polls he cleans up at. Nearly forgot the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting by the Americana Music Association.

And if all that adulation and mantelpiece full of trinkets still isn't enough, there's always the OBE he was given by the Queen of England. That must count for something, surely?


  1. Joe Public. The Ipswich Regent was half empty on Friday evening, though this was a distinct improvement on the last time I saw him there on the 'Rumour & Sigh' tour in 1991, when there were an embarrassing 100 punters in a venue with a 1500 capacity.
    Perhaps undervalued would be a better term, or under the radar. The same applies to Martin Carthy.

  2. You can only blame his management and PR people if he's playing venues 'above his station.' I'm a huge fan and know that Thompson performs better, much better, in front of intimate audiences. His people should plan his itinerary better. However, I take your point. Though if Joe Public haven't worked him out by now, they're never going to.

  3. Okay, John, you've convinced me that I've been remiss. I like to start exploring from the beginning of someone's career - can you recommend a couple of early discs that you rate highly?

    1. If you park up Fairport and the Linda Thompson years, then the three standout solo albums, for me, are Across a Crowded Room, Amnesia and Mock Tudor. A full refund coming your way if these don't hit the N on the H.