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on February 19, 2006
It goes without saying that Richard Thompson is an insanely gifted guitarist and near peerless songwriter. You would think 5 cd's of previously unreleased RT would be a cause to celebrate well into the summer. So, why the 3 stars? Even with Free Reed's exemplary reputation for conceiving and releasing astounding box sets, this feels thrown together. Factual errors abound, typos, aggravatingly snide opinions in the exhaustive essay are not the only thing that deplete the value of this collection. The song selection, obviously vetted by RT, is terribly uneven, with the sound quality at times bordering on the unlistenable. Now sometimes this makes sense given the historic significance of some of these recordings (i.e Memphis Club). But audience recordings of more recent material defies logic. Of course, there are untold treasures, but as a whole this set leaves you with a thin throat and a fat belly - in other words, hungry - but not for more of this box. Compared to the revelatory (but still flawed) Watching The Dark, this is a massive let down. Save your cash and buy the new Teddy Thompson record, the SACD of "Shoot Out The Lights" and Richard's "Semi-Detached Mock Tudor" live disc available through his web site.
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