Richard & Linda Thompson – Sunnyvista – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

It took two copies, each with a single White Hot Stamper side, to create the All Time Best Sounding version of Sunnyvista, an album AMG calls “…the wittiest and most joyous album Richard & Linda made together.”

None of the domestic copies we played were more than passable, and even worse, most of the Brit originals we played were almost as smeary, veiled and opaque. There was only one way to get top sound on both sides, and that was to make a Two Pack with the best two sides of the best two copies. The two good sides here just KILL the competition in every way.

They’re bigger, more present, more energetic and just plain more FUN than any other sides we played. If you’re a fan this is the only way we know of to hear this album sound the way it should.

Just in case you don’t care to take our word for how mediocre the average side is, play the “bad” sides of the two records, both of which earned a single plus grade (A+) — they were doing some things right, but for the most part left a lot to be desired. When you play them you will no doubt hear what we mean.

Side One – Record One

A+++, the clear winner! Bigger, more clear and clean, yet richer and fuller, with real Tubey Magic, this is our idea of Top Quality Sound!

Side Two – Record Two

A+++, again, the clear winner! Richer, tubier, smoother, sweeter, never edgy or phony, this side had it all!

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Civilisation
Borrowed Time
Saturday Rolling Around
You’re Going to Need Somebody
Why Do You Turn Your Back?

Side Two

Sunnyvista
Lonely Hearts
Sisters
Justice in the Streets
Traces of My Love

AMG Review

1978’s First Light marked Richard & Linda Thompson’s first time in a recording studio after three years away from music, and it suggested they were still getting warmed up as performers; a year later, Sunnyvista found them in much stronger form and a significantly more upbeat frame of mind.

Sunnyvista is the wittiest and most joyous album Richard & Linda made together; while several of Richard Thompson’s trademark meditations on romance at its least successful are on hand, “Why Do You Turn Your Back” manages to generate an unusually soulful groove, “Lonely Hearts” captures the melancholy country feel that First Light never quite caught, and “Traces of My Love” finds a winning warmth in its sadness.

Richard Thompson’s satirical eye gets an airing on the darkly witty title cut, and he displays his rarely aired politically conscious streak on the rabble-rousing “Borrowed Time” and “Justice in the Streets.” Linda Thompson’s vocals are in superb form on “Sisters,” a lovely duet with Anna McGarrigle. And you’d have to go back to Hokey Pokey to hear the Thompsons having as much fun as they do on the rollicking “Saturday Rolling Around” and the wildly passionate “You’re Going to Need Somebody.”

With a big band of Fairport Convention and Albion Band associates and top UK session players on board, and Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Gerry Rafferty, and Glenn Tilbrook contributing vocals, Sunnyvista boasts the stylistic eclecticism of the Thompsons’ best work, with a healthy dose of added enthusiasm.

Anyone who thinks Richard & Linda Thompson’s records are always depressing have obviously never heard Sunnyvista; if it isn’t quite as resonant as I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Pour Down Like Silver, it still boasts great songs, great singing, and you can play it at a party.

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