Monday, January 12, 2009

Richard Thompson - Henry The Human Fly (1972)
"Fans and critics alike seemed to have a difficult time getting a handle on Thompson's new direction, which, for the most part, eschews the electric guitar that had been an integral part of the British folk-rock he had helped forge with his former band Fairport Convention. With the exception of a couple of short instrumental breaks and various electric shadings, Thompson's Stratocaster defers to accordions, fiddles, whistles, dulcimers, harps, and his own acoustic guitar. The songs, which are more idiosyncratic than his Fairport output, are the primary focus. Cuts such as "The Poor Ditching Boy," "The New St. George," and "The Old Changing Way" have the timelessness of the best traditional material Fairport had been mining in the past, while "Roll Over Vaughn Williams," with its swirling electric guitar, and the accordion and electric guitar interplay of the folk-rocker "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away" are prime examples of Thompson's vision of fusing the old and the new. At the time of its release, Henry the Human Fly, with its fresh, yet eccentric take on folk and rock, along with tales of "poor ditching boys," racehorses, tinkers, "painted ladies," and weddings where "nobody's wed" was not a fashionable record, but like the bulk of Richard Thompson's work, it transcends times and trends. Linda Peters (Thompson), Sandy Denny, Ashley Hutchings, and John Kirkpatrick guest." (Brett Hartenbach, All Music Guide)
"It's not often the UK produces an artist of such calibre. Obviously, these days, we can look back at the career of Richard Thompson and trace it through classic albums, both solo and with Linda/Fairport. ‘Henry The Human Fly’ isn’t quite where it all started, that would be Fairport, yet this is indeed the solo debut by Richard Thompson, guitar player extraordinaire. The vocals of Richard Thompson are fairly tentative across the LP, it seems like he knows what he needs to do vocally but doesn’t have the confidence or assurance to pull it off. Still, although the sound of the LP is fairly low-key and Thompson’s own performances hardly place him in the ranks of ‘entertainer’, actor, dancer or comedian…. even at this early stage in his career, he was already an artiste. The songs are great, the songs are key. ‘Henry The Human Fly’, doesn’t quite maintain it’s quality throughout, but there are certainly choice cuts dotted around the LP. Three or four tunes which appear towards the start of the LP are actually among the finest things the man has ever written/recorded. The ‘loss’ of this album over the years, now finally re-mastered and reissued, contributed towards it’s often overlooked status in the Richard Thompson discography. The deeply strange title and artwork would have hardly helped either, Richard stood up wearing a giant fly head. Still, let’s assume for a moment you know absolutely nothing about Richard Thompson. I’ll explain very simply what he’s like, sounds like. I’ll do all of this assuming this is his only album. I’m not about to produce a biography for him, you see.

I’ve already mentioned his slightly nervous/tentative vocals here. That’s certainly true, yet paying attention you can hear things almost falling into place and Richard almost coming across as a very emotive singer. His voice sounds like a folk singers voice, I guess. Not especially like Bob Dylan’s, yet slightly rough around the edges and sounding slightly lived in, despite his young years at the time. Musically, Richard’s guitar parts are always going beyond the minimum the songs generally require, but he never self-indulgently goes off on a needless solo. He never show-boats here, the parts simply fit the songs and they’ve been played extremely well. In addition to guitar, we’ve a solid if unspectacular rhythm section and other instrumentation such as piano, flute and accordion. Overall, the album fits more into the singer/songwriter mode than it does folk/rock and we’ve actually got a pretty varied set of tunes.

Folk and folk/rock? One of the folkiest moments here is certainly the marvellous ‘Nobody's Wedding’, the little accordion break in the middle gives the tune a happy blast, it’s also a lyrically clever song. Elsewhere, we’ve a couple of traditional interpretations, yet the main thrust of the record is Thompson’s own compositions. ‘Roll Over Vaughn Williams’, ‘Shaky Nancy’, ‘Nobody’s Wedding and ‘Angels Took My Racehorse Away’ are all particularly excellent tunes. ‘Roll Over Vaughn Williams’ showcases the Thompson guitar very well, ‘Shaky Nancy’ is an unassuming, seemingly repetitive song, yet has an addictive allure. ‘Angels Took My Racehorse Away’ is just hugely entertaining and accomplished pop/rock. Pop music in an alternate universe, where talent such as Thompson’s is rewarded with both sales and acclaim. Yeah, ‘Henry The Human Fly’ tails off a little towards the end, although 'Painted Ladies' and 'Wheely Down' are both excellent. No, it’s not quite a masterpiece, but as a debut LP, works extremely well and deserves more attention than it gets." (

1. "Roll Over Vaughan Williams" – 4:09
2. "Nobody’s Wedding" – 3:13
3. "The Poor Ditching Boy" – 3:01
4. "Shaky Nancy" – 3:26
5. "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away" – 4:01
6. "Wheely Down" – 3:00
7. "The New St. George" – 2:08
8. "Painted Ladies" – 3:31
9. "Cold Feet" – 2:26
10. "Mary and Joseph" – 1:38
11. "The Old Changing Way" – 3:55
12. "Twisted" – 1:58

Richard Thompson – guitar, vocals, accordion, mandolin
Timi Donald – drums, vocals
Pat Donaldson – bass guitar, vocals
David Snell – harp
Jeff Cole – trombone
John Defereri – tenor saxophone
Clay Toyani – trumpet
Sue Draheim – fiddle
Barry Dransfield – fiddle
John Kirkpatrick – accordion
Andy Roberts – dulcimer
Sandy Denny – piano, vocals
Linda Peters – vocals
Ashley Hutchings – vocals


Part 1__Part 2__Part 3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am getting an error in the cue file when I try to burn this; anyone else notice this?

8:57 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger GarColga said...

Hi anon - I just checked and the .cue file works with Nero & Burrrn, but with ONES I received a warning "The image does not seem to fit the selected blocking". I have no idea what that means! You might try a different burner or just split the .cue file.

9:21 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger GarColga said...

By the way, would it kill some of you assholes to leave a comment even when there's not a problem?

9:53 PM, January 15, 2009  
Blogger ribeirorock said...

hola amigos , por razones ajenas el camaleon cambia la url.

anotar la nueva url por favor .

un abrazo a todos

hello friends, for reasons beyond the chameleon change the url.

note the new url please.

a hug to all

10:14 AM, January 16, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again Folk!...Sandy Denny...Richard Thompson Thanks !!!Mat

7:53 AM, January 21, 2009  
Blogger hebronbear said...

Thanks for sharing one of the most obscure albums by one of the most criminally underappreciated people out there. I've been a huge Thompson fan since 1979, and it does my heart good to see people spreading the word!

7:54 PM, January 26, 2009  
Blogger vanDiemerbroucke said...

Yeah, this one is special. He was just ahead of his time. Thanks for the up.

2:21 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger charles said...

You have a great blog, lots of very interesting bands . I like the fact that you spend so much time with each post to give a deneral orverview and then the members of the band. But back to this post, thanks so much this RT post. I appreciate all your hard work thanks

7:06 AM, February 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! Just another asshole saying thanks.

8:33 PM, March 04, 2009  
Blogger GarColga said...

You're welcome & thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

8:47 PM, March 04, 2009  
Anonymous Scion said...

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2:57 AM, April 04, 2018  

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