Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Richard Thompson: Live (More or Less) [Island, 1977]
This is Linda's album too no matter what the cover says--one disc is the duo's 1974 English debut, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, and while the collection of previously unavailable live material emphasizes Richard's modal guitar, you should hear them team up on "Dark End of the Street." Most folk-rock succeeds only in accentuating the irretrievability of the past, but the Thompsons' hard-nosed Sufi fatalism delivers them from nostalgia. When they sing about getting "to the border," they're talking about dying, not smuggling weed from Mexico, and they make the crossing sound like an earthly triumph ("drowned in a barrel of wine" indeed). Because they believe in eternity, the Thompsons don't sentimentalize about time gone--they simply encompass it in an endless present. A-