Richard Thompson

Watching the Dark

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Watching the Dark Review

by Mark Deming

Multi-disc box-sets usually fall into two categories -- they're either overstuffed "Greatest Hits" compilations, or packed with enough rarities to ensure loyal fans will part with their money. Since Richard Thompson's career hasn't sent him perilously close to worldwide stardom, the triple-disc anthology Watching the Dark was created with the latter market in mind, and if it falls short of being the perfect overview of Thompson's wildly varied career, it's a superb set that manages the not-inconsiderable feat of drawing an accurate picture of the height and breadth of Thompson's body of work, and offers enough buried treasures to leave jaded fans chuckling with glee. Sequenced thematically rather than chronologically, Watching the Dark covers Thompson's favorite themes well enough -- there's enough spiritual mystery, mortal heartbreak, and British traditionalism to satisfy nearly anyone -- and while the first priority appears to be Thompson the songwriter, Thompson the musician is documented with a similar degree of devotion. Watching The Dark gives relatively short shrift to Thompson's work with Fairport Convention and his experimental collaborations, but as an overview of his solo work (both with and without former wife and frequent collaborator Linda Thompson), it's remarkably thorough, and packed with fascinating and illuminating rarities. There are copious concert recordings, fascinating studio outtakes, and a handful of otherwise unavailable songs, along with an intelligently chosen selection of highlights from the first 25 years of his career in music. The sheer bulk of Watching the Dark (over three and a half hours of music) makes this a difficult introduction to Richard Thompson's work, but anyone with more than a passing familiarity with his music will be dazzled by it -- few box sets honor their subject with as much intelligence and depth as Watching the Dark.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Richard Thompson feat: Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Dave Pegg / The Watersons 03:33 Amazon
2 Richard Thompson feat: Kenny Aronoff / Christine Collister / Pat Donaldson / Clive Gregson / John Kirkpatrick 09:11 Amazon
3 Richard Thompson feat: Aly Bain / Mitchell Froom 04:05 Amazon
4 Richard Thompson feat: Kenny Aronoff / Christine Collister / Pat Donaldson / Clive Gregson / John Kirkpatrick 05:33 Amazon
5 Richard Thompson feat: Tony Goddard / David Horn / Frances Kelly / John Kirkpatrick / Ian Peters / Brian Taylor 05:06 Amazon
6 Richard Thompson feat: French Frith Kaiser Thompson 05:41 Amazon
7 Richard Thompson feat: Fairport Convention 02:24 Amazon
8 Richard Thompson feat: Fairport Convention 11:22 Amazon
9 Richard Thompson feat: Fairport Convention 03:38 Amazon
10 Richard Thompson feat: Dave Mattacks 05:29 Amazon
11 Richard Thompson feat: Clive Gregson / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Linda Thompson / Pete Zorn 05:26 Amazon
12 Richard Thompson 03:40 Amazon
13 Richard Thompson 04:57 Amazon
14 Richard Thompson feat: Clive Gregson / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Dave Pegg / Linda Thompson / Pete Zorn 03:42 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Richard Thompson feat: Betsy Cook / Liam Genockey / John Kirkpatrick / Simon Nicol / Philip Pickett / Linda Thompson / Pete Zorn 04:27 Amazon
2 Richard Thompson feat: Betsy Cook / John Kirkpatrick / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Philip Pickett / Linda Thompson / Pete Zorn 04:23 Amazon
3 Richard Thompson feat: Neil Larsen / Andy Newmark / Simon Nicol / Linda Thompson / Willie Weeks 03:06 Amazon
4 Richard Thompson feat: Betsy Cook / Liam Genockey / Simon Nicol / Frank Ricotti / Linda Thompson / Pete Zorn 03:08 Amazon
5 Richard Thompson feat: Lit / Simon Nicol / Dave Pegg / Michael Spencer-Arscott / Linda Thompson / Glenn Tilbrook / Pete Wingfield 05:33 Amazon
6 Richard Thompson 04:45 Amazon
7 Richard Thompson feat: Shawn Colvin / David Derge / Pat Donaldson / John Sherman / Pete Zorn 06:51 Amazon
8 Richard Thompson feat: Christine Collister / Mickey Curry / Mitchell Froom / Clive Gregson / Simon Nicol / Jerry Scheff 04:11 Amazon
9 Richard Thompson 03:49 Amazon
10 Richard Thompson 02:29 Amazon
11 Richard Thompson feat: Aly Bain / Nic Jones / John Kirkpatrick / Clare Lowther / Henry Lowther / Linda Thompson / Ian Whiteman 02:46 Amazon
12 Richard Thompson feat: Jack Brymer / Pat Donaldson / Linda Thompson 03:50 Amazon
13 Richard Thompson feat: Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / Simon Nicol / Linda Thompson 04:25 Amazon
14 Richard Thompson feat: Simon Nicol / Linda Thompson 03:06 Amazon
15 Richard Thompson feat: Aly Bain / Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / Simon Nicol / Linda Thompson 03:19 Amazon
16 Richard Thompson feat: Linda Thompson 03:58 Amazon
17 Richard Thompson feat: Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / Ian Whiteman 05:50 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Richard Thompson feat: Christine Collister / Gerry Conway / Clive Gregson / John Kirkpatrick / Ruari McFarlane 05:10 Amazon
2 Richard Thompson feat: David Bitelli / Christine Collister / Alan Dunn / Bruce Lynch / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Pete Thomas 04:00 Amazon
3 Richard Thompson feat: Christine Collister / Gerry Conway / Clive Gregson / John Kirkpatrick / Ruari McFarlane 06:52 Amazon
4 Richard Thompson 03:52 Amazon
5 Richard Thompson feat: Gerry Conway / Clive Gregson / Ruari McFarlane 02:52 Amazon
6 Richard Thompson feat: Christine Collister / Gerry Conway / Clive Gregson / Ruari McFarlane 05:09 Amazon
7 Richard Thompson feat: Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / John Kirkpatrick / Linda Thompson 03:25 Amazon
8 Richard Thompson feat: Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / Sue Draheim / Barry Dransfield / John Kirkpatrick 03:12 Amazon
9 Richard Thompson feat: Sue Draheim / Andy Roberts 03:01 Amazon
10 Richard Thompson feat: Pat Donaldson / Linda Thompson 05:21 Amazon
11 Richard Thompson feat: Timi Donald / Pat Donaldson / David Snell 01:57 Amazon
12 Richard Thompson feat: Gerry Conway / Pat Donaldson / Simon Nicol 07:09 Amazon
13 Richard Thompson 04:01 Amazon
14 Richard Thompson feat: John Hiatt / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Dave Pegg 06:01 Amazon
15 Richard Thompson feat: John Hiatt / John Kirkpatrick / Dave Mattacks / Simon Nicol / Dave Pegg / Pete Thomas / Pete Zorn 03:52 Amazon
16 Richard Thompson feat: Gerry Conway / Pat Donaldson / Alan Dunn / Simon Nicol 05:32 Amazon
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