Richard and Linda Thompson “Shoot Out The Lights”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#671 in the Series) is Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights.

I love year-end “best of” write-ups.  I don’t know why, since like we’ve talked about before, music isn’t a competition unless you’re in high school and playing in a “Battle of the Bands” contest.  I guess you could say that all bands are in competition for airplay and sales, but I think you know what I mean.

I remember when Shoot Out the Lights was released in 1982. This album was on just about every list I read.  I knew of them, but hadn’t heard much of this record.  The same can be said for their previous band, Fairport Convention.  I knew more “of them” than I did actually know “about them.”

After reading so much about this album I had to get it.  I quickly heard what the pundits were raving about.  This was a pretty impressive album. Duh. Yes it was depressing in many ways. You’re actually witnessing a break-up right before your ears but tough times can be great musical inspirations I guess. It definitely was in this case as Richard and Linda share with the listener what they were going through as their semi-high profile marriage was ending.

The two songs that received the most play were the title cut and “Walking on a Wire.” “Wall of Death” is also easily a song that should receive more than just a mention.

Richard’s gifted guitar playing here was produced by Joe Boyd.  We’ve written about him when discussing R.E.M. and 10K Maniacs.

Shoot Out the Lights was ranked #24 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years. It was ranked #9 on Rolling Stone’s list of the The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80’s. It was also ranked # 333 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest of all time.

— Larry Carta 

Track listing

All songs written by Richard Thompson except as noted.

Side one

  1. “Don’t Renege on Our Love” – 4:19
  2. “Walking on a Wire” – 5:29
  3. “Man in Need” – 3:36
  4. “Just the Motion” – 6:19

Side two

  1. “Shoot Out the Lights” – 5:24
  2. “Back Street Slide” – 4:33
  3. “Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?” (Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson) – 4:52
  4. “Wall of Death” – 3:43


  • Richard Thompson – vocals, lead guitar, accordion, hammered dulcimer
  • Linda Thompson – vocals
  • Simon Nicol – rhythm guitar
  • Dave Pegg – bass on 3 6 7 8
  • Pete Zorn – bass on 1 2 4 5, backing vocals
  • David Mattacks – drums

Additional personnel

  • The Watersons (Norma, Mike, Lal, and Martin Carthy) – backing vocals
  • Clive Gregson – backing vocals
  • Stephen Corbett – cornet
  • Brian Jones – cornet
  • Phil Goodwin – tuba
  • Stephen Barnett – trombone
  • Mark Cutts – trombone

Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. coachmaddog (05 Apr 2012, 9:11)

    Brilliant album. Richard is a great slinger and Linda’s voice is wonderful. Walking on a Wire is breath taking.

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