Shoot Out The Lights
Sunnyvista was sub-par and unsuccessful, leaving the Thompsons without a recording deal. Gerry Rafferty offered to produce an album for them, but was unable to sell the recordings to a label, and the album was scrapped. Joe Boyd signed the pair to his new Hannibal label, and quickly recorded a new version. Shoot Out The Lights is commonly known as the Thompsons’ divorce album, although most of the songs were written for the Rafferty sessions in 1980, before any relationship difficulties. But after a couple of unfocused albums, it’s certainly more urgent – songs like ‘Don’t Renege On Our Love’ and ‘Man In Need’ are driving and fast. Despite the fact that the backing band’s similar to 1970 Fairport Convention, with Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, and Simon Pegg, there are few vestiges of folk, outside ‘Back Street Slide’, and it’s essentially a guitar driven modern rock album.
There’s a distance between the material handled by the two vocalists – Richard takes all the fast songs, while Linda handles the slow burning ballads, the pretty ‘Just A Motion’ and ‘Walking on a Wire’ and the Sandy Denny speculation of ‘Did She Jump (or Was She Pushed’. Richard fronts the pounding title track, which features some of his most memorable soloing, and the romp of ‘Back Street Slide’, while the duo harmonise on the closer ‘Wall of Death’.
Shoot Out The Lights might be the most accessible album that Thompson has released; largely discarding his British folk roots without sounding compromised, and it’s a good starting point in his sizeable discography.