The Old Kit Bag

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The Old Kit Bag
Studio album by Richard Thompson
Released February 2003
Recorded 2002
Studio Capitol Studio 'B', Hollywood
Genre Folk rock, contemporary folk
Length 58:45
Label Cooking Vinyl
Producer John Chelew
Richard Thompson chronology
Semi-Detached Mock Tudor
(2002)Semi-Detached Mock Tudor2002
The Old Kit Bag
More Guitar
(2003)More Guitar2003
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[1]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[3]

The Old Kit Bag is the tenth studio album by British singer-songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson, released in 2003.


The title refers to the World War I marching song "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag". When asked if the album had a theme, Thompson had no immediate answer, then said "I suppose the title is a theme of sorts. It's a reference to the old World War I song, 'Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag,' which is about smiling and whistling a happy tune as the Germans rain shells down on you."[4]

After years of being a prestigious but small-selling signing with a big label, Thompson signed with the small, independent and independently-minded Cooking Vinyl label in 2002. The first fruits of this new partnership was The Old Kit Bag.

Thompson had financed the recording himself and relied on his new label for marketing and distribution ("I should have started doing that years ago because it means you own your own recordings").

The album is markedly different from its predecessors, with unobtrusive production by John Chelew and a smaller set of backing musicians ("the idea was to keep it small. I did do a few overdubs – second guitar, dulcimer, single-finger keyboard parts, all the easy stuff – but other than that, everything was pretty much a live performance"). Thompson's electric guitar playing is more prominent than it had been for some time on a studio album.

Despite the stripped down arrangements and sound, the album is stylistically diverse with Thompson even making a rare excursion into the blues on "I've Got No Right To Have It All". As is often the case with Thompson, the lyrics reflect darker side of life: "Gethsemane" deals with the disillusionment and pressure that follows an idyllic childhood, and "Outside Of The Inside" (which Thompson introduced on tour as "a song about how the Taliban see the West").[5]


Ironically the move to a much smaller record label bought a bigger marketing push and healthier sales. Thompson had engineered a situation where live shows were his major revenue stream, but now The Old Kit Bag did better on release than any other Thompson album since Rumor And Sigh, entering the Billboard Top 200 and entering Billboard's "Indie" chart at number 5.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Richard Thompson

  1. "Gethsemane"
  2. "Jealous Words"
  3. "I'll Tag Along"
  4. "A Love You Can't Survive"
  5. "One Door Opens"
  6. "First Breath"
  7. "She Said It Was Destiny"
  8. "I've Got No Right To Have It All"
  9. "Pearly Jim"
  10. "Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen"
  11. "Outside Of The Inside"
  12. "Happy Days And Auld Lang Syne"



  1. ^ "The Old Kit Bag by Richard Thompson". Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Rolling Stone review
  4. ^ "Richard Thompson". Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  5. ^ "The Old Kit Bag - Richard Thompson - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". Retrieved 3 October 2016.