Vinyl Corner : Richard Thompson ‘Electric’

Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Following on from the last Vinyl Corner’s look at Richard Thompson’s 2001 Austin, TX live set, this time we’re looking at his 2013 solo album ‘Electric’ released through New West Records.

The Music:

By the time of 2013’s ‘Electric’, Richard Thompson already had one of the longest running discographies in folk rock, with an eclectic back catalogue including plenty of highs and lows (although, to be fair, the former are in far higher supply than the latter). The ambitious, varied ‘Electric’ managed to offer both more of the same potent acoustic melancholia which made Thompson’s name, whilst still covering new ground. With a runtime the best part of 70 minutes, it’s arguably a tad overlong, but there’s no denying the album is a consistent effort and has a good pacing that keeps things varied throughout. The record sees Thompson flit between mournful folk-rock balladry, executed with the gritty edge that’s long been his signature, and rockier pieces that often feel like a throwback to the twanging rock ‘n’ roll Thompson would have likely heard in his youth. It’s a rock-solid collection and offers some great material to those looking to familiarise themselves with some of Thompson’s discography outside of accepted classics such as ‘Leige & Lief’ or ‘I Want To See Bright Lights Tonight’.

The Pressing:

Spread as a matter of necessity over two heavy weight LPs, this is a great pressing that sounds really nice. Manufactured by Nashville’s United Records, the records do have some light marking from factory handling but none of that produces audible noise and, in fact, playback is very quiet with a very minimal noise floor and no noticeable surface noise at any point on our copy. Sonically the album has a solid body and presence to it, with a clear mix and a nice oomph to Thompson’s vocals and guitar in particular. With three or four decently lengthy songs per side, none of the album’s four sides suffer from overcrowding and associated groove distortion but likewise they manage to avoid feeling fleeting, as playback still lasts around 15 – 20 minutes per side.

The Packaging:

Housed in a very attractive gatefold sleeve, presentation shines on this release. The thick-spined gatefold stands out well on the shelf with an eye-catching colour scheme, and the print quality is excellent throughout with sharp definition. Excellent use is made of the inner gatefold spread, with lyrics to the full core album (side four consists of bonus material) as well as credits for all involved with the project. The provided inner sleeves could have been better, as the generic non-polylined ones that come with the release from new are best swapped for more protective sleeves, however this easy to do so no concerns there. Label design is very attractive and boasts not only a fetchingly old-school layout but also a sharp, eye-catching red and white colour scheme that certainly doesn’t lack impact.

Final Thoughts:

An excellent release throughout, ‘Electric’ finds Thompson in fine form musically-speaking and the pressing reflects that well, with low surface noise and good dynamics making for an easy listen. Packaging is likewise excellent and overall this is a great release.