Details are finally coming to light about “RT – The Life and Music of Richard Thompson,” which has been in the works for several months. Due Feb. 7 through the U.K.-based independent Free Reed Records and Music label, the five-disc collection set will trace the troubadour’s career as a solo artist, with seminal U.K. folk act Fairport Convention, in partnership with ex-wife Linda and in other settings.
Disc one, “Walking the Long Miles Home — Muswell Hill to L.A.,” boasts songs based in reality, while the second, “Finding Better Words — The Essential Richard Thompson,” was compiled via fan polls, but represents those favorites through previously unheard recordings.
“Shine in the Dark — Epic Live Workouts,” the third disc, focuses on the revered guitarist’s instrumental improvisation. A fourth disc pulls together nearly 20 covers — everything from Thompson’s version of the Who’s “Substitute” to the traditional “Danny Boy” — all in a concert setting. Also featured are Thompson’s contributions to covers of his songs by Norma Waterson, Dave Burland and Judith Owen.
The final disc, “Something Here Worth More Than Gold– Real Rarities” is a must for hardcore fans, with rare demos, outtakes and live versions of songs all new to a Thompson release.
Expanding the set further is a limited edition sixth disc, “RT on FR,” that will be distributed to the first 5,000 buyers who send an included voucher to Free Reed. Thirteen of the disc’s 17 tracks are drawn from earlier releases by the label that concentrated on Fairport Convention or his Albion Country Band.
The balance is songs written by Thompson donated for this collection. Two are previously released — Elvis Costello’s “End of the Rainbow” from 1986’s “King of America” and Grace Notes’ “Withered & Died” from 1998’s “Red Wine & Promises.” Exclusive to this bonus disc are John Clough’s “Beeswing” and Deborah Cowan’s “Has He Got a Friend for Me?”
Completing the package is a 172-page book detailing Thompson’s life and career, with a discography and notes on every track compiled by Nigel Schofield. An extensive interview with the artist is also included.