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Richard Thompson Richard Thompson
Album: Acoustic Classics II
Label: Beeswing
Tracks: 14

This collection of 14 original Richard Thompson songs follows on from the release of the first Acoustic Classics album in 2014.

Now with a back catalogue as extensive as his, Mr Thompson was never going to squeeze it all into a single album and so Acoustic Classics II is the result.

And what a treat it is for anyone who loves acoustic music, expertly played and with such a rich collection of fine songs.

The spiky opener She Twists The Knife Again, from his 1985 album Across A Crowded Room, sets the standard from the off. It is superb, a marvellously intricate guitar arrangement with impassionate vocals. Wow.

There are so many jewels to be found here. The Ghost Of You Walks is another sparkling arrangement. You'll find Genesis Hall from Fairport Convention's 1969 Unhalfbricking album. There's Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair from the Richard and Linda Thompson days.

A Heart Needs A Home, from the duo's 1975 Hokey Pokey album gets a lovely sympathetic treatment as it befits.

You'll find Pharaoh from the 1988 album Amnesia. It's stark setting matching the stark lyrics perfectly.

One of the many highlights to be found here is Gethsemane from the 2003 album, The Old Kit Bag. Its punchy, stripped back approach allowing the lyrics to flourish. But the guitar is allowed to flourish also! Wonderful.

You'll find the traditional-sounding Devonside from the Hand of Kindess album of 1983 and the great breakup song Keep Your Distance, from Rumour and Sigh of 1991.

But the song many will recognise here is the Fairport anthem, Meet On The Ledge, written by Thompson, and performed at the Cropredy festival each year to bring the event to an end. This is a powerful arrangement, with sparkling guitar and solo voice. Sublime.

The frantically insistent Bathsheba Smiles from his marvellous Mock Tudor album is followed by another Fairport song, Crazy Man Michael, from the legendary Liege and Lief album of 1968, with its delicate guitar arrangement.

The longest track here is the powerful Guns Are Tongues from the 2007 album Street Warrior with the epic tale of Little Joe.

The album is drawn to a close with another fine love song, Why Must I Plead, also from Rumour and Sigh - the rippling guitar accompaniment is just lovely.

This entire album is so good I just popped it on again for another listen - just to be sure.

Richard Thompson is touring this autumn and there is another album of "acoustic rarities" in the pipeline before the year's end.

Oh yes, more please!

John Knighton