Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright…

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Richard (and Linda) Thompson

The first White Hot Stamper of this 1974 classic to make it to the site, and it’s wonderful on both sides. Rich, full-bodied, with big bass and gobs of studio ambience, this is the way this music was meant to be heard. Kurt Loder writing in Rolling Stone noted that there’s “not a single track that’s less than luminous.” 

This is one of my favorite Thompson albums from the old days. In my opinion, and in the opinion of practically every serious critic around the world, this is some of their very best work.

What to Listen For

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Folk Rock record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this simple but sophisticated recording.


Side One

When I Get To The Border
The Calvary Cross
Withered And Died
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Down Where The Drunkards Roll

Side Two

We Sing Hallelujah
Has He Got A Friend For Me
The Little Beggar Girl
The End Of The Rainbow
The Great Valerio

AMG Review

In 1974, Richard Thompson and the former Linda Peters released their first album together, and I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight was nothing short of a masterpiece, the starkly beautiful refinement of the promise of Thompson’s solo debut, Henry The Human Fly. In Linda Thompson, Richard found a superb collaborator and a world-class vocalist; Linda possessed a voice as clear and rich as Sandy Denny’s, but with a strength that could easily support Richard’s often weighty material, and she proved capable of tackling anything presented to her, from the delicately mournful “Has He Got A Friend For Me” to the gleeful cynicism of “The Little Beggar Girl.”

Background / More Reviews

I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight is the second album released by Richard Thompson and the first including and credited with his then wife, Linda Thompson as Richard and Linda Thompson. It was released by Island Records in the UK in 1974. Although never commercially successful and critically ignored on its release, it is now considered to be a masterpiece and one of the finest works of both Richard and Linda singularly or together.

After the marked lack of success achieved by his first album, Henry the Human Fly, British singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson started a personal and professional relationship with Linda Peters, a session singer. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was the first album by the duo of Richard and Linda Thompson.

Where his first album was treated harshly by the critics, the second was eventually hailed as a masterpiece. Recorded on a shoestring budget in a matter of days (but sitting unreleased for nearly 8 months while the record label tried to decide what to do with it), it is now regarded as a classic of English folk rock and one of the Thompsons’ finest achievements.

Initially ignored by reviewers, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight later came to be highly regarded. Robert Christgau rated it highly when it was re-released as one half of Live! (More or Less) noting that “[they] don’t sentimentalize about time gone—they simply encompass it in an endless present.” When it was re-released in 1984, along with other albums in the Thompsons’ catalog, Kurt Loder writing in Rolling Stone described it as a “timeless masterpiece” with “not a single track that’s less than luminous”.

More recent reviews are equally complimentary. Q (May 2007, p. 135): “After his 1971 departure from Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson found his ideal foil in recent bride Linda. A hugely inventive guitarist, he gives full vent to his talent on this dark, brooding album. Indeed, he never quite recaptured the murky demons inside the likes of ‘Withered and Died’ ever again.”

The album has been included on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


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