Richard Thompson: Legendary guitarist goes live for 'Dream Attic'
Most musicians go through a regular cycle of writing songs, recording an album, touring behind it, then starting all over again.
For his latest album, “Dream Attic,” Richard Thompson, 61, decided to skip a step, recording his latest batch of songs live in front of an audience during a short tour.
The result is one of the guitar legend’s strongest collections in years.
amNewYork spoke with the musician.
Why did you choose to record the album on stage instead of in a studio?
People sometimes say they prefer the live versions of my songs to the recorded version. I thought, “Let’s test this theory out and skip the studio versions altogether.”
Was it hard to get the audience excited about hearing new songs?
The audience responded well. I explained at the beginning that we’d play 13 new songs in a row. A few people fainted and had to be carried off [laughs], but they mostly understood. Then we took a break and did more familiar material.
Do you play these songs now and think “I wish I could put that version on the album”?
One of the trade-offs of recording live is that you have to compromise on the performance you choose. Often, the best guitar solo is on night three, the best vocal is on night seven, and the best overall track is night five, and that’s the one you have to choose.
How did you develop your music style?
Growing up around London in the ‘60s, there was a lot of bad soul music and not very good blues. I consciously tried to not sound like other people and tried to expand the vocabulary of the guitar by listening to horn players or pianists instead of guitar players.
If you go: Richard Thompson is at Town Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday. 123 W. 43rd St., 212-840-2824. $36.50-$64