In 1982 Dharmonia and I were living in
We were already well-aware of the Anglo-Celtic folk revivalists, were already playing that music with Reynardine (a great band conceptually, but we were too late for the 60s-70s folk scare and too early for the ‘80s Celtic revival), and already knew Thompson’s music, mostly through his fantastic writing and guitar-playing with Fairport Convention. We also had a rare double-LP set of live stuff and outtakes called Live (more or less), which had some fantastic extended guitar solos and a beautiful version, by Richard and wife Linda, of Dan Penn’s Dark End of the Street. Linda had sung lead or backup vocals on some of Richard’s most intense and personal stuff, including the magnificent Pour Down Like Silver (topic of a future “100 Greats” post), and we were eagerly awaiting the new R&L duo disc.
Can’t remember where we bought it, or even if maybe we ordered it through one of the
The shows on that tour were titanic but not enjoyable—more like watching a rock ‘n’ roll version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?--though I did have a remarkable close-encounter with Linda (a story for another day). It’s only with years of hindsight that we’ve learned to recognize the other, less stark beauties of this record: the sighing heartbreak of Walking on a Wire, the raging transcendence of the guitar solos on Shoot Out the Lights, and the fierce, hell-or-breakfast, Tilt-a-Whirling, Dervishtic jubilation of Wall of Death (“Let me ride on the Wall of Death/One more time/You can waste your time on the other lines/This is the nearest to being alive/O Let me take my chances on the Wall of Death”).
This is a great, very angry, very brave record.