Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson

Along with an upcoming tour by Bob Dylan, a visit by British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson will give Japan a chance to compare and contrast two of the 20th century' greatest folk musicians.

First gaining attention as a founding member of the '60s British folk-rock group Fairport Convention, Thompson was part of that band for five albums through the late '60s and early '70s. Launching his solo career, Thompson released Henry the Human Fly in 1972. While the album gained the dubious distinction of becoming Warner's worst-selling album in history, it marked the emergence of Thompson's idiosyncratic vision based on his superb guitar work and wistful, brooding vocals.

In 1972, Thompson married singer Linda Peters, and the pair embarked on a lengthy period of collaboration that was to see them release a number of records including Pour Down Like Silver (1975), before their final effort, Shoot Out the Lights (1982), which marked an end to their marriage as well as, ironically, their first commercial success.

Thompson reunited with former Fairport manager Joe Boyd for a succession of releases in the '80s, including Across a Crowded Room (1985). He also hooked up with avant-garde musicians John French, Fred Frith (Henry Cow) and Henry Kaiser to form French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson, for the album Live, Love, Larf and Loaf (1987).

The '90s saw Thompson come into his own as a solo act. Under the direction of noted producer Mitchell Froom, he released five records for Capitol including Rumor and Sigh (1991).

He also became a touchstone for many of the indie-rock musicians making their mark in the '80s and '90s, and became the subject of a tribute album in 1994, Beat the Retreat, which featured tracks by REM, Bob Mould, Bonnie Raitt and Dinosaur Jr. among others.

While Dylan's visionary folk, rooted in the protest music of Woody Guthrie jazzed up with a stiff dose of R&B, has brought him a worldwide audience, Thompson's darker, more intimate songwriting and penchant for traditional British instruments like the hurdy-gurdy and hammer dulcimer, has kept him more of a cult figure. Dylan and Thompson cover a vast swath of 20th century popular music. Folk fans will have a fine time of it deciding which concert - if not both - to attend.

Richard Thompson plays Shibuya Club Quattro on Feb 21. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana