Thompson is probably one of the most famous cult favorites in popular music. With dozens of albums in his catalog (solo, with then-wife Linda, and with Fairport Convention), he's been lauded far and wide for his guitar playing and songwriting, and his songs have been the subject of two full tribute albums. His idiosyncratic convergence of British folk traditions and American rock 'n' roll has found favor among a broad audience of folk, pop, rock and country enthusiasts.
This latest volume of the "Live From Austin, TX" series captures Thompson and accompanists (Michael Jerome on drums and Danny Thompson on upright bass) as recorded for the U.S. television program "Austin City Limits." The original half-hour TV edit is extended to 79 minutes on CD, and to the entire 87-minute performance on DVD. Unlike the live discs Thompson's offered through his own website, this set captures a single performance arc, showing off not just the singer, songwriter and guitarist, but the showman.
The set kicks off with the rousing "Cooksferry" before settling in to the somber "Uninhabited Man." The trio resonates with jazz-like interplay across fifteen (sixteen on DVD) titles drawn in large part from 1999's "Mock Tudor," and dating back as early as 1982's "Shoot Out the Lights" and 1984's "She Twists the Knife Again." The quality of Thompson's songs remains uniformly high between Thompson's most well-known tunes ("1952 Vincent Black Lightning," who's introductory guitar gains a cheer from the audience) and most obscure (the soundtrack composition, "Mr. Rebound").
Neither a career overview, nor a greatest-hits volume, this is still a good place to get a sense of Thompson's art, and an enchanting opportunity for fans to spend some quality time with their hero. DVD notes: soundtrack provided in stereo, DTS and Dolby 5.1.surround, and the set's 8-minute closing track "Put it There Pal" is included on DVD but not on CD. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2005 hyperbolium dot com]