Cookin Vinyl 74651 CD / Diverse DIV 004 LP
When is Richard Thompson going to receive the acclaim that he deserves? I must confess that while I don't know a lot about the background politics of the music business, I do know a good thing when I hear it. There is something really wrong with an industry that puts all of its eggs in one basket and goes crazy over a collection of boy bands or infantile pop drama queens. Yes, I saw the kiss; it really was not all that sexy. If the music industry wanted to really shock me, it would spend some money promoting Richard Thompson, Gillian Welch, or Ry Cooder. Granted, the last time he was associated with a major label, the music quality dropped a few notches and fans wished that he would disappear and write something worthy of a "Richard Thompson" album. Thompson's past few albums, especially Mock Tudor has been above average but rather overdone in the mixing department and less enjoyable as a result. Thompson's guitar playing is one of his numerous strengths but it often gets lost in the shuffle. Having heard Richard Thompson perform live on more than one occasion, I am confused as to why anyone would want to hide such interesting licks.
Some genius upstairs decided to give Sir Richard the boot and I would like to send that individual a wonderful fruit basket, especially with one of those fruit cakes they only make at Christmas (in my case it would be a plate of greasy Chanukah latkes, but you get the idea). Needless to say, Thomson's return to an indie label has been rewarded with his best solo work in close to twenty years. The Old Kit Bag is a return to simplicity with a stripped down sound, wonderful lyrics, excellent sonics, and a collection of provocative and bold songs. The opening track "Gethsemane" is quintessential Thompson; bold, emotional, in your bloody face. The passion of the album builds with each track and it reaches a climax with the rather bold "Outside of the Inside", where Thompson (who is a devout Muslim) rather heroically takes the Taliban in Afghanistan to task for its archaic views of the western world and its refusal to evolve out of the dark ages. The Old Kit Bag is a very solid piece of work, one that should be spinning on more than just a few turntables this year.
Sound Quality: 90