First Light (Richard and Linda Thompson album)

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First Light
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1978
StudioOlympic Studios, London
GenreFolk rock
ProducerRichard Thompson, John Wood
Richard and Linda Thompson chronology
Pour Down Like Silver
First Light
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB[2]

First Light is the fourth album by folk rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson. It was released in 1978 on Chrysalis Records.

Writing and recording[edit]

After the release of their third album, Pour Down Like Silver, the Thompsons took an extended break from music, they spent much of the next three years living in sufi communes in London and Norfolk.[3][4]

This prolonged sabbatical was punctuated by occasional session work by Richard Thompson and a short tour in 1977 in which the duo performed mostly new, overtly religious material and were backed by musicians who were also practitioners of the Sufi faith.[3]

In 1978 Richard Thompson accepted an invitation from Joe Boyd to play on Julie Covington's eponymous solo debut album; the musicians hired for this album included highly regarded American session players Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark and Neil Larson, who had also been working in the studio with George Harrison. According to Boyd the three Americans were hugely impressed by Thompson's playing and expressed a wish to work with him. Boyd also knew that Thompson had some new material and talked Thompson's manager Jo Lustig into taking advantage of the situation: "The material is there and these guys love Richard, they’re gonna kill to play with him, it would be great."[3]

The resulting First Light was the fourth album by Richard and Linda Thompson and marked their resumption of their recording career, it is dominated by spiritual songs, some of them direct translations of sufi and koranic texts.[4]

In later years Thompson expressed dissatisfaction with his recorded output in the late 1970s: "The regrets I would have would be career stuff, I was too flaccid in the 1970s, I just wasn’t thinking tightly enough to make a difference. Especially the later 70s, where I made really indifferent records, I just didn’t have my mind on the job."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Richard Thompson; except "Pavanne" by Richard and Linda Thompson, and "The Choice Wife" traditional, arranged by Richard Thompson

Side one
  1. "Restless Highway" -3:52
  2. "Sweet Surrender" -4:40
  3. "Don't Let a Thief Steal Into Your Heart" -4:38
  4. "The Choice Wife" -2:30
  5. "Died for Love" -6:30
Side two
  1. "Strange Affair" -3:05
  2. "Layla" -4:17
  3. "Pavanne" -5:00
  4. "House of Cards" -3:24
  5. "First Light" -4:17



  1. ^ Deming, Mark. First Light at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: T". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 16, 2019 – via
  3. ^ a b c d Humphries, Patrick, Richard Thompson - The Biography, Schirmer, 1997. ISBN 0-02-864752-1
  4. ^ a b Smith, Dave, The Great Valerio - a study of the songs of Richard Thompson, 2004