Oops! Folk-rock veteran Richard Thompson has done it again

Richard Thompson is returning to the Sage Gateshead.
Richard Thompson is returning to the Sage Gateshead.

Oops! Richard Thompson has done it again.

The folk-rock veteran hasn’t released a follow-up to his 1,000 Years of Popular Music, a history of pop songs he put out in 2003 made up of covers ranging from Sumer is Icumen In, a medieval English round believed to have been composed in the mid-13th century by a Herefordshire monk, to Oops! I Did It Again, a chart-topper in 2000 for US singer Britney Spears written by Max Martin and Rami Yacoub.

That would require another near-millennium to elapse, and by then the 68-year-old Londoner would either be dead, that being by far the likelier option, or have broken the world record for longevity several times over.

What he has done, rather, is come up with a sequel to his 2014 album Acoustic Classics, a No 16 hit made up of 14 old songs of his including When the Spell is Broken, I Misunderstood and Wall of Death performed, as the title suggests, acoustically.

Acoustic Classics II, his 17th solo LP, is also 14 tracks long but it casts its net further back into the past than its predecessor’s 1972 starting point to take in his four years with Fairport Convention beginning in 1967 – namely the 1968 single Meet on the Ledge, 1969’s Genesis Hall and 1969’s Crazy Man Michael – and more recent tunes such as 1985’s She Twists the Knife Again, 1996’s The Ghost of You Walks, 1998’s Pharaoh and 2003’s Gethsemane.

Meet on the Ledge aside, this is not as obvious a round-up of fan favourites as its predecessor, opting instead for more obscure choices, possibly explaining its lower chart placing of 24, but is no less rewarding a listen for that.

Even more obscure selections from Thompson’s back catalogue will follow in the form of a fan-funded collection called Acoustic Rarities due out on Friday, October 6.

Its 14 songs include two more from his Fairport Convention days, Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman and Sloth, both from the 1970 LP Full House, and six hitherto-unreleased songs – What If, Push and Shove, They Tore the Hippodrome Down, I Must Have a March, She Played Right Into My Hands and Alexander Graham Bell.

A tour will follow its release, and it includes a date in the north east, at the Sage Gateshead, on Wednesday, October 18. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker will be supporting Thompson, awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2011 for services to music. Tickets cost £27.30 to £38.20. For details, go to www.sagegateshead.com or www.richardthompson-music.com