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Album Review: Hard Luck Stories: 1972-1982 [Box Set] by Richard & Linda Thompson
Exceptionally Good, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 84 Based on rating 8.4/10
Hard-luck stories are one of Richard Thompson's specialties. He honed the skill in the 1970s, writing songs with the knowledge that his wife Linda would provide the sugar to sweeten his salt. From a certain perspective, the tale of Richard and Linda Thompson--a partnership that intertwined romance and creativity--is itself a hard-luck story, one plagued by missed opportunities and bad breaks, and culminating in a public divorce.
Across six albums in less than a decade, Richard and Linda Thompson may not have entirely rewritten the folk handbook but they left some intriguing scrawls in the margins. There's even more to study in this long-in-the-making, elegantly packaged set, with the inclusion of 31 tracks never before offered up for public consumption.
It is, however, a slight compromise, due not only to the players' own power of veto; the end of Universal's hitherto long-standing licensing agreement with the BBC means none of the duo's radio or TV sessions can be included.
B ox sets often exist merely to evacuate the wallets of the faithful. Here, though, over eight CDs (or a big download) is the story of one of the most intriguing partnerships in British music: the silvery folk-rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson. It is a tale worth retelling - and shelling out for. As vocalists, the Thompsons shared a startling contralto directness that, squared, offered up a vision of often spare, unfussy beauty at one remove from convention or theatricality.