13 June, 2010

1000 YEARS OF POPULAR MUSIC – Richard Thompson (2006)

In late 1999 Playboy magazine asked a whole bunch of people to list their ten greatest songs of the millennium.  Such lists were ten a penny at the turn of the century and just about all of them defined the “millennium” as the period since 1950.  Richard Thompson, bless his cotton socks, chose to take them literally and came up with a list that began with Summer Is Icumen In and finished with Oops!... I Did It Again.  This show expands on that list.

Accompanied by Judith Owen and Debra Dobkin, Richard takes us on a tour through ballads, madrigals, folk songs, gospel, music hall, comic opera, country, jazz and rock & roll, all of which was the pop music of the day.  In between, he explains some of the history behind each song.  The set-list wisely stays away from standards, for the most part choosing lesser know examples of each style.

Such an inspired premise wouldn’t go far without a performance to match but Thompson and his cohorts are more than up to the task.  It cannot be said often enough that Richard Thompson is one of the finest guitarists of this, or any other age.  This is proven again by the way he presents so many different kinds of songs on acoustic guitar without any of them sounding like anything is missing.  In the self-deprecating liner notes, he writes,
Trying to render an Arthur Sullivan orchestration with acoustic guitar and snare drum is pretty desperate stuff, but may, at a stretch, be thought “charming.”
“Charming,” is a barely adequate description, sir!  And Judith Owen’s reading of Night and Day is sublime.  However much you may know about music, you’ll come away from this concert knowing a bit more.

There are no DVD extras, but it comes with two CDs of the concert, minus the between-song banter.
Oh, and the magazine never published his list.

Highlight: There Is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast
Feature:  * * * * *
Extras: None
Audio:  Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1

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