Review Revue: Richard Thompson - Hand of Kindness

As we come to the end of this pledge week, the phrase “Hand of Kindness” seems to have particular resonance. As KEXP extends its kindly musical hand to you, we hope you will extend your hand into your wallet, and then kindly extend said money-filled hand in our direction.

Richard Thompson is one of my favorite artists about whom I know very little, beyond really enjoying pretty much everything I’ve heard from him. He got his start with the British folk group Fairport Convention in the ’60s before going on to release several albums with his wife (at the time), Linda Thompson. The last of those, Shoot out the Lights, received great critical and commercial success, but unfortunately the couple was no more. Hand of Kindness is the first solo album Richard released after splitting (both professionally and personally) with Linda. Surprisingly - though hinted at by the album title - it has a much more uplifting, positive sound than he had been known for previously. The Thompsons made gorgeous, but very dark, music together, and here Richard seems to be stretching his legs a bit and craning his neck for the sunlight. A few years later a cover of the lead-off track was a top ten hit on the country charts, which I imagine would have surprised the heck out of the Richard Thompson of a few years earlier.

The KCMU gang certainly dug this record. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the kind of consistent checking in on an album’s greatness, including a countdown to the release of the artist’s next album. Good stuff, I tell ya.

“Sort of umm... new waveish folk. Dig the crazy concertina! Give this a shot.”

“Some of these cuts really rock! Some similar in style to Joan Armatrading. 1-1 is a killer. 2-4 = Dancemania.”

“Hooray!”

“Amen! This guy can do no wrong.”

“Hooray again!”

“‘Devon Side’ - Gorgeous, slow song.”

“N, please!” [Hmmm, "N" is new to me.]

“More!”

“N for me, too.”

“‘Moe Me Up!’”

“Scotty must be on his break...”

“‘Tear Stained Letter’ rocks!”

“Yah! Why not?”

“This is great.”

“Okay, we got it in N, now... how ‘bout H?”

“That’s pushin it!”

“Wonderful music for bored people in bars...”

“Still Hot!”

“H me.”

” H H H H H H H H H H H H H
+ H H H H H H H H H H H H H”

“Still rocks on 4/24/84...”

“And 8/24/84...”

“And 11/24/84...”

“And 3/20/85″

“New record due out any day - Yay!”

“And 3/29/85″

The new LP IS out, but Shirley”

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3 Comments

  1. Chris Estey
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I bought this album the same night I bought REM’s Murmur -- they had just come out -- after quitting a phone solicitor’s job and buying two 40 ouncers along with them on the way home with my pay out check. The next week I was pretty broke but loving both records; and I still play songs off the above LP maybe even once a week (“Devon Side,” “Twisted Heart and A Poisoned Memory,” especially). Great write up, Levi! Um, ‘N’ or ‘H’ ... ?!

  2. Levi
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Hey, thanks for the memories Chris!

  3. Scott Wittet
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I never hear Richard Thompson on KEXP. Am I listening at the wrong time?

    Sweet Warrior is a tremendous, recent album. The live version is great too.

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