Like I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey was recorded about a year before it was released. It’s quite a different album to its predecessor, there’s less folk influence and as a result it’s less unified. A lot of the songs are character studies of struggling or disturbing people, and after the sharp Bright Lights, it feels much more disengaged.
As a result, many of these songs are second tier in Richard Thompson’s catalogue, but there’s one glowing highlight in the form of the elegant, sparse ‘A Heart Needs A Home’, with a warm Linda Thompson vocal – maybe the one point in the album where the writing is personal rather than detached. The title track is as close as the perennially dour couple come to sounding like they’re having fun, while ‘Georgie On a Spree’ effectively matches pessimistic lyrics to jaunty music. I’m less convinced by the closing cover of Mike Waterson’s ‘Mole in a Hole’, while my mind finds it hard to do much beyond snigger at ‘Old Man Inside A Young Man’.
After the superlative I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey is often good, but only occasionally great.