Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
Richard Thompson is an ideal subject for a tribute album. He’s been acknowledged as the most underrated guitarist in rock for so long he’s in danger of losing the title. His songwriting is inspired, both musically and lyrically. If his singing voice is by default the weak leg in the tripod, that only means a band can put their own stamp on it with greater ease. To top it off, his cult audience would guarantee small but significant sales to people who knew music and who would be more open to a wide range of approaches to Thompson’s songs. 1994’s Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson is a gathering of some of Thompson’s best work, performed by disparate artists with devoted followers of their own, bringing all their contrasting styles to salute one man – as such, for all its flaws, it has become an archetypal tribute album.