Friday, 5 September 2014

50 songs to take to my grave #14: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Truth is, I'm not really a big fan of Richard Thompson although I can't say I know a great deal about his solo work to form much of an opinion. What I do know is I heard Gideon Coe play 1952 Vincent Black Lightning on his 6Music show one night and it stopped me in my tracks.

It's a story of a rebellious bad boy who owns a classic motorcycle and falls in love with a red-headed biker chick. It ends tragically when he gets shot in a bungled robbery and hands over the keys of his prized machine to his girl as he takes his final breath. Thompson tells the story in fine English folk tradition, and his guitar playing is incredible. Watch this clip to see how effortless he makes it look.

The song is taken from 1991's 'Rumour And Sigh' (remarkably his first Top 40 solo album in 20 years) and wasn't released as a single. However it remains one of his most popular songs among fans and has been covered numerous times since. It's one of those I can't really put my finger on when it comes to describing what I like so much about it. All I know is, when I heard it the first time on the radio, I stopped tackling the pile of washing up I was engaged in at the time and just listened. I then instantly downloaded the song and listened again.

The best surprises often lie in the most unexpected places. Admittedly, English folk is not a genre I know much about, but it proves that you cannot dismiss any genre out of hand. Whatever your taste, something lurks way off your radar that could just make you go 'wow!' when you least expect it. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning was one of my 'wow!' moments.


  1. Supern track. I think you might want to listen to I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, it's a tremendous record. One of The Ten Best Of All Time, you know.