Oct 5, 11:57 AM EDT

Review: Richard Thompson digs deep for "Acoustic Rarities"



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Richard Thompson, "Acoustic Rarities" (Beeswing)

Richard Thompson's "Acoustic Rarities" complements the Englishman's two volumes of "Acoustic Classics," one from 2014 and the second released just months ago.

The album is a high-quality potpourri of new recordings representing diverse facets of his career, including solo albums, songs covered first by other artists as well as his work with folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention and ex-wife Linda Thompson.

As with Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, there's recurring disbelief that songs like the six compositions debuted here were unreleased for so long.

Among these are "They Tore the Hippodrome Down," an elderly gentleman's melancholy journey through a neighborhood that's changed at least as much as his circumstances, and "I Must Have a March," a "Threepenny Opera"-style demand by a cabaret performer who hopefully has seen better days.

"Alexander Graham Bell" resorts to a little hot jazz a la Django Reinhardt to extoll the many-sided talents of the Scottish inventor, reminding us that "Edison made cylinders but Bell made records flat," earning the gratitude of LP and CD collectors everywhere.

Mods and rockers would probably both claim "Push and Shove," where Thompson fires off some Pete Townshend strums in mid-Sixties mode.

Among the reinterpretations are the agonizing "Sloth," from Fairport Convention's "Full House" and contrasting takes on the same arc in the sky - the optimistic "Rainbow Over the Hill" and the brutal "End of the Rainbow."

The album bids thee farewell with another unreleased gem, "She Played Right Into My Hands," a much more cunning version of the Jagger-Richards "Under My Thumb" theme.

Stripped to their essence, the tunes share Thompson's dazzling guitar and his finely aged baritone vocals.

Thompson has been a fountainhead of brilliant songwriting for decades and the exquisite tunes on "Acoustic Rarities" make you yearn for much more.

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