In Review

Beeswing by Richard Thompson

A lively memoir by Richard Thompson, the lead guitarist of Fairport Convention, who was pivotal to Britain’s ‘folk-rock boom’

For a brief moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “British folk collided with rock and audiences did not run screaming in the opposite direction”, said Will Hodgkinson in The Times. As the lead guitarist of Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson was pivotal to Britain’s “folk-rock boom”. And in Beeswing, his lively memoir, he revisits this “exciting time”.

Fairport Convention started out “doing Dylan covers”, but “everything changed” one night in 1969, when the band’s minibus crashed on the way back from a gig, killing two members. After that, the remaining bandmates decided they couldn’t go back to their former style. The result was their “masterpiece”, Liege & Lief, an album “reconfiguring Britain’s folk traditions”.

Beeswing is “tastefully slim”, witty, and structurally adventurous, said Wesley Stace in The Wall Street Journal – in short, it is “everything you’d hope a Richard Thompson autobiography would be”. The book’s strength lies in its modesty and restraint – not qualities normally associated with rock memoirs, said Richard Williams in The Guardian. Marked by the same “gift for description” that made its author such a fine songwriter, this is a “quiet joy of a memoir”.

Faber 272pp £20; The Week bookshop £15.99

Beeswing book
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To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

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