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Acoustic Rarities follows Richard Thompson’s Acoustic Classics Vol.11 as he performs an eclectic selection of songs. Some of the material originally featured on albums when he was with Fairport Convention (1970) or recorded with Linda Thompson (1974 –1975).


Others are previously unreleased tunes, not only by Thompson but anyone else. The collection starts with Thompson in commanding mood, and something of a hurry in the form of the unreleased “What If”; and with it soon followed by a dark, evocative tale previously recorded by Blair Dunlop, “Seven Brothers” that offers a power and clarity (both lyrically, and regards his forceful playing) that's long been a trademark of the folk master. Easing his foot off the pedal he follows it with “Rainbow Over The Hill” (Albion Band), and on placing a dark sombre edge to the music Linda and his “Never Again” enjoys some additional box playing. Of a stripped-down presentation “I Must Have A March” weaves effortlessly in and out of moods as folk of old (and cabaret stage show) is revisited.


Better still he revisits a song from his 1972 album, Henry The Human Fly by way of the roving “Poor Ditching Boy”; warmed in accordion etc and with an adventuress edge it lifts the album! “Alexander Graham Bell” not surprisingly contains more of the cabaret stage show mentioned above, and I hasten to add some classy jazz swing guitar. Tasty.


Accompanied and not for the one and only occasion Thompson has some help on vocals on “Sloth”, and it works perfectly. For it cushions his earthy / sometimes abrasive leaning tones. It features some picking too. A previously unreleased “Push And Shove” comes out the traps in explosive fashion, and though lacking the finesse and beauty of “End Of The Rainbow” (originally on Richard & Linda Thompson album I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight) it is the business. While the wondrous, and most soothing in every department “She Played Right Into My Hands” is a (previously unreleased) treasure if ever was one! For a song stout as an old English oak he tenders a cover of “Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman”, and though it isn’t a happy song the playing warms the heart.  


                                                            Maurice Hope   


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