English folk rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson had a career that resembled a soap opera between 1974 and 1982. They married, released three albums in quick succession, then spent three years in a Sufi Muslim commune where Richard’s religious leader forbade him from playing music. Leaving the commune, their career faded and they were dropped from their record deal. 1982’s Shoot Out The Lights was a breakthrough and reignited their career, but the couple had already split up, and their subsequent tour of North America was tense and difficult. The coupling of Richard’s sharp Stratocaster work and songcraft and Linda’s clear contralto left some great songs behind. Here are their albums, from worst to best.
(6) Sunnyvista (1979)
Happy Richard and Linda Thompson doesn’t work for me – this unusually perky album often feels forced and hollow.
(5) First Light (1978)
My theory is that a creative record executive envied the commercial behemoth of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and decided that the closest British substitute would be to marry Richard and Linda Thompson to a slick and incongruous Californian rhythm section.
(4) Hokey Pokey (1975)
A lot of these character studies of disturbed people are second tier, but there’s one superlative song in the gorgeous ‘A Heart Needs A Home’.
(3) Pour Down Like Silver (1975)
Their third album finds this often dour couple at their dourest, with sparse arrangements and songs based on Sufi scriptures.
(2) Shoot Out The Lights (1982)
There’s little folk music on the duo’s final album, with Richard rocking through the title track, and Linda singing torch songs like the Sandy Denny speculation of ‘Did She Jump (Or Was She Pushed)?’
(1) I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
The Thompsons’ debut album is full of engaging folk rock, like the joyous title track and the depressing child advice of ‘End of the Rainbow’.
For full reviews of Richard and Linda Thompson’s albums, https://albumreviews.blog/reviews/richard-and-linda-thompson/