Richard and Linda Thompson: Hard Luck Stories 1972–1982 review – a tempestuous tale worth retelling

(UMC/Universal)
This eight-CD box set includes 31 previously unreleased tracks, not to mention every twist and turn of this most compelling of double acts

Box sets often exist merely to evacuate the wallets of the faithful. Here, though, over eight CDs (or a big download) is the story of one of the most intriguing partnerships in British music: the silvery folk-rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson. It is a tale worth retelling – and shelling out for.

As vocalists, the Thompsons shared a startling contralto directness that, squared, offered up a vision of often spare, unfussy beauty at one remove from convention or theatricality. This chronology kicks off with the pair’s first casual rock’n’roll experiments for a low-key ensemble project. It ends with the duo’s live immolation, when the Thompsons fulfilled lucrative 1982 tour dates despite their relationship having, as one of their most famous songs goes, “withered and died”.

Related: Richard Thompson at 70: on love, loss and being a Muslim in Trump’s US

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