Small Town Romance was compiled from three warts-and-all live recordings (originally produced for radio broadcast) of Richard Thompson performing solo acoustic in New York City in 1982. The above-mentioned warts (a cough here and there, a very occasional flubbed note) are tiny and difficult to spot, but Thompson was quite aware of them -- enough so that he persuaded Hannibal Records to delete the album from their catalog, though when the out-of-print album began fetching ridiculously high prices on the collectors market, he consented to a reissue in 1997. While the album is a hardly flawless recreation of the live Richard Thompson experience (and Thompson's solo acoustic shows would be noticeably stronger a few years down the line), it does capture Thompson's estimable charm as a stage performer with commendable accuracy, and the program is superb, featuring several Fairport Convention classics, a number of outstanding numbers from the Richard & Linda Thompson catalog, and a few otherwise unrecorded songs, most notably the devastating title track, which still stands as one of Richard's finest meditations on his favorite theme, love gone wrong. Small Town Romance may not be perfect, but it preserves a handful of passionate and impressive performances from one of the most gifted guitarists and songwriters around -- which puts it far ahead of the vast majority of live albums that will cross your path. Hopefully, though, one of Richard Thompson's even more dazzling solo shows from the 1990s will find it's way onto a widely available, non-bootleg CD some time in the future.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming