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I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Remastered)

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iTunes Review

Recorded on s shoestring budget over the course of a few days in May 1973, I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight sat on the shelf for one year. But when it was released it immediately changed the course of Richard Thompson’s career. It was his first proper album since leaving Fairport Convention, and his first album with his new wife Linda. Few husband-and-wife teams have burned as intensely. Infused with the folk sensibility of his early career but ignited by a renewed love for rock music, Bright Lights hews to a singular vision that is mournful, but elegant. Collectively, the songs form a portrait of luckless tavern life, but the Thompsons treat the material with such warmth and grace that even the most doomed scenes are lit as if by candelabra. The three live bonus tracks — taken from a show at London’s Roundhouse in September 1975 — show the couple bringing a few of these singular barroom ballads back to their natural element.

Customer Reviews

Songwriting, guitar work of the highest order. A simply indispensable album.

Beautiful from start to finish, lyrically as well as well as musically. "See that lover standing, staring at the ground / He was looking for the real thing, lies were all he found / You can have the real thing, it will only cost a pound / Down where the drunkards roll." Linda sings these words with such heartfelt emotion it floors me to listen to her over thirty years after first having heard it. Richard's guitar work is fabulous, as always, On this album, however, it's the quality of the songwriting that shines through. Just a great, great album. Nobody ever regrets buying this.

one of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of the 20th Century...

Richard and Linda Thompson are the only artist(s) who had two albums land in Rolling Stone Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of the 20th Century. Seriously. Not even the Rolling Stones, the Beatles or Jacko can claim that honor. This album, and their later release, "Shoot Out the Lights." They're both magnificent, and the review quoted above pretty much says it all (although I do disagree that "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" is their darkest - I think "Shoot Out the Lights" is a bit darker, actually).

"I'll hurt you until you need me..."

A great, great album. I had this on vinyl and re-purchased it on iTunes, and I don't regret it a bit. The bleakness of the album is not artificial, but refracted from humanity's unkindness onto an uncertain future. Linda Thompson said in an interview that Richard wrote "End of the Rainbow" right after the birth of one of their children. Her friends thought it was an awful song to write to a newborn but she thought it was tremendous, that there is no greater gift than the truth. And that is what this album is - a series of truths, whether lighthearted (the title track) or dispiriting ("Down Where the Drunkards Roll", "The End of the Rainbow"). For all the truth-telling, some songs ("The Great Valerio", "The Cavalry Cross") are shrouded in metaphors. It takes several listens to "Cavalry Cross" before you realize the cross the singer is carrying: his own talent and need to create and make music. The very thing that ties him to this ascetic life is what is allowing him to carry on; it is his art and his craft telling him "I'll hurt you until you need me."


Born: April 3, 1949 in Notting Hill, London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For years, Richard Thompson resided in relative obscurity, while at the same time garnering vast critical praise for his magnificent guitar work and the dark wit and richness of his extraordinary songwriting. A founding member of the seminal British folk-rock group Fairport Convention, he remained with the band for five studio albums -- Fairport Convention (1968), What We Did on Our Holiday (released as Fairport Convention in the U.S.) (1968), Unhalfbricking (1969), Liege and Lief (1969), and Full...
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