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Chris Thompson

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Album Review

The tiny British label Village Thing put out some of the finest U.K. folk releases of the early ‘70s, with a roster including Wizz Jones, Steve Tilston, and Ian A. Anderson (not to be confused with the Jethro Tull frontman). But even for Village Thing, whose initial runs were only a couple of thousand copies per album, Chris Thompson's debut album was a little-seen obscurity. It's been estimated that only about 1,000 copies of the 1973 recording were made, and that all but 100 were destroyed as part of some kind of tax scam. This was unfortunate both for Thompson, a New Zealander whose guitar talents had made him a favorite on the London folk scene, and for fans of the music. Fortunately, the album was subsequently reissued on CD on the U.S. label Scenescof, but the later repackaging on Sunbeam went a step further by pairing the original album with a whole extra disc of bonus material. Early-‘70s London was not exactly lacking for phenomenal folk guitarists, but even amid the likes of Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, et al, Thompson must have stood out. His fretboard expertise is the most immediately striking aspect of the album: his fingerpicking technique rivals that of anyone on the scene at the time, and on stand-out tracks like "Her Hair Was Long" (which was wisely repurposed a couple of years later on Thompson's major-label debut), the New Zealander achieves an intensity of tone that only an artist like Jansch could match. Thompson is sometimes tossed under the psych-folk umbrella, and the striking opening cut, the instrumental "Hugo Spellman," certainly falls into that category, taking on a raga feel with help from members of Magic Carpet on Indian instruments. But for the most part, this is a relatively straightforward outing typical of the Village Thing catalog, incorporating some traditional blues and folk influences but mostly striking a distinctly ‘70s singer/songwriter tone. And despite the focus on Thompson's fleet-fingered instrumental capabilities, he comes off as a skilled songwriter as well, with more lyrically oriented tunes like "Don't Be Afraid" and "Dream" comparing favorably with the work of any of his aforementioned peers. ~ J. Allen, Rovi


Genre: Rock

Years Active:

Chris Thompson has been on the cutting edge of rock for nearly three decades. The lead vocalist on Manfred Mann's Earth Band's chart-topping 1976 hit version of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light," Thompson has continued to make his presence felt. His distinctive vocals can be heard on albums by Elton John, the Doobie Brothers, Ozzy Osbourne, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, John Farnham, and Jefferson Starship, who covered his tune "Blaze of Love" in 1989, as well as eight albums with Manfred Mann's...
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Chris Thompson, Chris Thompson
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