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The Calvary Cross – Richard Thompson / The Stars of Heaven

by LoganX78
I’ll hurt you ’till you need me
For some reason, we’ve been listening to the wonderful The Calvary Cross a lot this week.

Not the original version from the wonderful British songwriter Richard Thompson, although we do really love the original version. And the amazing album from whence it came, the mould-breaking and momentous I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight! A truly stupendous album! Beautiful, bleak, real, poetic, powerful, timeless, dark!! Magnificent!

No – actually instead an excellent cover from back in 1987 by the short-lived but sublimely magnificent Irish group The Stars of Heaven.

We’ve written about the sublime Stars of Heaven – a band decades ahead of their time and who pioneered the alt-country genre – in the most glowing manner a few times before and posted some of their great albums.

Along with Alex Chilton and Gram Parsons, Richard Thompson was one of the fixed stars in our firmament.

– Stan Erraught

The fine, restrained Stars’ interpretation of The Calvary Cross comes from the collection “Unfinished Dreaming” released in 1999, long after the group had unfortunately split .

This album collected their first single, some rare tracks from BBC and RTE radio sessions and best of all, tracks from their unreleased fourth LP tracks recorded for Mother Records with Mitch Easter.

In the liner notes, Stan Erraught speaks about the band’s great admiration for Richard Thompson and how when he and Stephen Ryan used to share a house, the Thompson album I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was on constant rotation on their record player for months!

Their cover of The Calvary Cross was a favourite at the band’s live shows. They also often covered other Thompson tracks live.

This recording comes from a BBC Session recorded for the late great John Peel‘s show on 7 February 1987.

The Calvary Cross is a beautiful and powerful song from the brilliant first Richard and Linda Thompson album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, recorded in May 1973.

This great LP was recorded in double-quick time and on a small budget.

With it’s cinema-verite feel and poetic, yet unflinching, view of life right then, the album was a magnificent oeuvre that stood in stark contrast to the slew of musical drivel generally emanating at that time!

After the marked lack of success achieved by his first album, Henry The Human Fly, Thompson had struck up a personal and professional relationship with Linda Peters, a session singer. I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight was the first album by the duo of Richard and Linda Thompson.

Largely because of the then petrol shortage in Britain and its impact on the availability of vinyl for records, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight was held back by Island Records for nearly a year before being released in April 1974.

The album was very well received by the critics, though sales were less than stellar.

Thompson’s dark poetic lyrics expressed a real world view – one that many considered rather dismal – and it has been suggested that the bleak subject matter of his songs helped to keep his recordings off the hit parade. Another explanation was given by ex-Island A&R man Richard Williams in the BBC TV documentary Solitary Life to the effect that Thompson was just not interested in fame and its trappings!

Whereas his first album had been treated harshly by the critics, this one was correctly hailed as a masterpiece.

Recorded on a shoestring budget in a matter of days (and sitting unreleased for nearly 8 months while Island was trying to decide what to do with it!), the LP is now regarded as a classic of English folk-rock and one of Thompson’s finest achievements.

I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight is indeed a magnificent work. As good as, if not better, than anything released in that period.

Over time, it has properly attained the recognition it deserved. Many great artists have covered songs from the album – a real array of quality artists from Elvis Costello to Fatima Mansions to countless others.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 479 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

I’ll Be Your Light ‘Till Doomsday

The Calvary Cross is a complex, beautiful, dark, ambiguous song speaking of an array of themes such as love, devotion, lust, power, cruelty, desperation and abuse in a sublime lyric which bleeds religion through every pore!

There are some wonderful quirky British references/ phrases in there too, which we love!

All of this below a delicious melody which starts with a rather intricate but brief electric guitar phrase followed by simple acoustic instrumentation with subtle, sublime choral contributions.

Cohen-like (the unrivalled master of this genre) is how we’d describe this wonderful song – and there is no higher praise possible!

A stone cold classic!

The Calvary Cross

I was under the Calvary Cross

The pale-faced lady she said to me

I’ve watched you with my one green eye.

And I’ll hurt you ’till you need me.

You scuff your heels and you spit on your shoes.

You do nothing with reason

One day you catch a train

Never leaves the station.

Everything you do

Everything you do

You do for me

Now you can make believe on your tin whistle

Ah, you can be my broom boy

Scrub me ’till I shine in the dark

I’ll be your light ’till doomsday

Oh, it’s a black cat crosses your path.

And why don’t you follow

My claw’s in you and my light’s in you

This is your first day of sorrow

Everything you do

Everything you do

You do for me

A great video here which rather surreally, but excellently, transposes images from the silent classic Metropolis to Richard’s great song!

All thanks for this lovely piece goes to meta bob who says;

This video is my peculiar response to a request I got from my YouTube pal, choreographer AsertyDances:…

“I am writing to a number of my favorite youtubers for a request! I am in the process of choreographing my first evening-length work here in NY and part of the concept is communication. So I thought… eventually… youtube videos projected! But, I really want the concept to go with my other concept… Dance!

“So, if you could make a short video on your thoughts and experiences regarding dance that would make my day! It’s more questions like, what is your personal history with dance… your relationship with dance… with your body? Have you viewed concert dance, dance on television, at a club, a wedding, what is dance to you culturally? And wherever these thoughts take you… go with it. If they lead you into sports or your personal relationship with writing or film or horror or money or a job, then go there too.”

Well, this is where I went. Read into it what you will!

Richard Thompson – The Calvary Cross

The Stars of Heaven – The Calvary Cross
John Peel Session
17 February 1987

Mp3 @ 320/ RS



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December 27, 2008 Posted by | Richard Thompson, Stars of Heaven, _MUSIC, _PHOTOGRAPHY, _POETRY | Leave a comment

T-Bone Burnett : Proof Trough The Night (1983) @320

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T-Bone Burnett : Proof Trough The Night (1983)

Review by Brett Hartenbach;

Proof Through the Night, T-Bone Burnett’s first, and last, full-length release for Warner Bros., is an ambitious take on the state of the union and times, personified by various fallen characters. To some, his persistent morality may come across as being a bit cold or even self-righteous, but further investigation reveals an underlying empathy for the individuals, even if a cynicism for the times in which they live is expressed.

And if Burnett may seem tough, don’t think he excludes himself from the same scrutiny. In cuts such as “Pressure” and the record’s best song, “Shut It Tight,” he sees himself as “just an ordinary man,” struggling with the same sorts of questions, temptations, and contradictions as, for instance, those of the protagonist in the record’s centerpiece, “The Sixties.”

Musically, he serves his tales of “beautiful, wealthy, young divorcees,” fallen women, and victims of times where we “keep all the bad, destroy all the good” on a bed of vibrant, guitar-driven rock & roll and folk, even lacing spoken parables such as “Fatally Beautiful,” “The Sixties,” and “Hefner and Disney” with subtle hooks and enticing nuances and choruses.

Like T-Bone Burnett’s other Warner Bros. release, Trap Door, Proof Through the Night is smart, tight, insightful, and unfortunately not yet available on CD.

Guests include Pete Townsend, Mick Ronson, Richard Thompson, the Williams Brothers, and Ry Cooder.


01.The Murder Weapon
02.Fatally Beautiful
03.After All These Years
04.Baby Fall Down
05.The Sixties
08.Hula Hoop
09.When the Night Falls
10.Hefner and Disney
11.Shut It Tight


T Bone Burnett/ Guitar, Vocals
Ry Cooder/ Guitar
Jeff Eyrich/ Producer
Dennis Kirk/ Engineer
Stan Lynch/ Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals
David Mansfield/ Guitar
Jerry Marotta/ Drums
David Miner/ Bass
Mick Ronson/ Guitar
Steven Soles/ Vocals
Richard Thompson/ Guitar
Pete Townshend/ Guitar
The Williams Brothers/ Vocals
Andrew Williams/ Guitar, Vocals
Masakazu Yoshizawa

Here she be:

PW : vVv

Big thanks to vinchrane

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September 10, 2008 Posted by | Mick Ronson, Music_ClassicRock, Pete Townsend, Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder, T-Bone Burnett, the Williams Brothers, _MUSIC | 3 Comments