Hokey Pokey (album)

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Hokey Pokey
Studio album by Richard and Linda Thompson
Released April 1975
Recorded September - October 1974 at Sound Techniques, London
Genre Folk rock
Length 36:02 (original)
52:36 (2004 reissue)
Label Island
Producer Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol
Richard and Linda Thompson chronology
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Hokey Pokey
Pour Down Like Silver
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Hokey Pokey is the second album by the British duo of singer Linda and singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson. It was recorded in the autumn of 1974 and released in 1975.

Listeners keen to try to find connections between the albums by the Thompsons and their personal lives may be confused by the delays between writing, recording and release of the early albums. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was conceived and recorded prior to the Thompsons' embracing of Islam, but the album's release was substantially delayed. By the time that album was released the Thompsons were living in an Islamic commune in London.

In the meantime the Thompsons had toured as a trio with Fairport Convention guitarist Simon Nicol. Nicol recalls that period: (in Patrick Humphries' biography of Richard Thompson)

we did the folk clubs as a trio ... It was just after they got married, and it was lovely. I look back on that period with great affection ... It was really powerful. You could hear a pin drop at most of those gigs. Rapt attention. Two acoustic guitars, and the bass pedals went through a little backline combo amp, we’d use house microphones ... It was stuff from Bright Lights ... and Hokey Pokey, in the process of creation, Hank Williams’ songs ...[citation needed]

So much of the material on the Hokey Pokey album was written sometime before the album was recorded and even predates the conversion to Islam. To add to the confusion the release of the eventual album was again delayed and so the song and the themes of the album lagged behind the development of the Thompsons's personal lives.

The album is thematically cohesive for the most part. The first eight songs present a bleak world view with constant images of people living a shallow existence and seeking some kind of gratification - often in drugs or sexual encounters ("Hokey Pokey", "I'll Regret It All in the Morning", "Old Man Inside a Young Man", "Georgie on a Spree"), or experiencing a hard and cruel life with the cruelty often being dealt out by their fellow humans ("Smiffy's Glass Eye", "The Sun Never Shines on the Poor", "I'll Regret It All in the Morning", "Old Man Inside a Young Man"). "Never Again" (originally written in the aftermath of Fairport Convention's devastating tour bus crash in 1969) portrays an old man looking back on a life devastated by the unexpected loss of loved ones.

"A Heart Needs a Home", the ninth song, serves as Richard Thompson's declaration of faith whilst also harking back to the unfulfilling existence portrayed in the preceding songs:

...I came to you when
No one could hear me
I’m sick and weary
Of being alone
Empty streets and
Hungry faces
The world’s no place when
You’re on your own
A heart needs a home.

In terms of musical style Thompson's songwriting on this album reflects a number of British styles despite not being in the English folk-rock style of "Bright Lights": Music Hall, English hymns, traditional brass bands, pub sing-alongs and even the double entendres of George Formby are all discernible. In many cases Thompson juxtaposes an upbeat tune with a bleak lyric.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Richard Thompson except as noted.

  1. "Hokey Pokey"
  2. "I'll Regret It All in the Morning"
  3. "Smiffy's Glass Eye"
  4. "The Egypt Room"
  5. "Never Again"
  6. "Georgie on a Spree"
  7. "Old Man Inside a Young Man"
  8. "The Sun Never Shines on the Poor"
  9. "A Heart Needs a Home"
  10. "Mole in a Hole" (Mike Waterson)

2004 Island CD reissue[edit]

  1. "Wishing" (Buddy Holly, Bobby Montgomery)
  2. "I'm Turning Off a Memory" (Merle Haggard)
  3. "A Heart Needs a Home"
  4. "Hokey Pokey"
  5. "It'll Be Me" (Jack Clement)

All extra tracks are live and previously unreleased.



  1. ^ Hartenbach, Brett (2011). "Hokey Pokey - Richard & Linda Thompson | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  • Richard Thompson - The Biography by Patrick Humphries. Schirmer Books. 0-02-864752-1
  • The Great Valerio - A Study of the Songs of Richard Thompson by Dave Smith.