Richard Thompson Amnesia (Capitol) Richard Thompson's first album for Capitol, and second with Mitchell Froom in the producer's chair, was not the commercial success both men were under pressure to deliver at the time. It should have been. Thompson (right) has never made a solo album that could be described as a hit, but he came as close as he ever has to making the jump from cult figure to mainstream success with Amnesia's sequel, 1991's Rumour and Sigh. That is a fine CD, but for my money the most satisfying balance he ever struck between the English and the American elements that still jostle each other for room in his music was achieved here. There is, to be sure, a characteristic polish to Froom's production, but it does not compromise the grittiness of Thompson's singing or guitar work, featured on a consistently fine set of songs, which complement and contrast with each other. There are rockers - Turning of the Tide, Jerusalem on the Jukebox, Don't Tempt Me, and Yankee Go Home - medium paced songs which build tension highly effectively - Can't Win and Gypsy Love Songs - and two achingly lovely ballads which are among the very best in his repertoire - I Still Dream and Waltzing's For Dreamers. Dream is a slow burner, with the magnificent American rhythm section of Jim Keltner on drums and Jerry Scheff on bass, set off by a gorgeous colliery brass arrangement performed by the Fairey Engineering Band. Waltzing is the only folk club style all acoustic inclusion, but elsewhere the cool slickness of the LA session team is set off by the unruly exuberance of the folky Brit participants, including accordionist John Kirkpatrick and Northumbrian Piper Alistair Anderson, who gives the closing Pharaoh much of its haunting exotic quality. Lyrically, the quality of the songs, some personal, some political, others character sketches, is consistently high. Amnesia should have been a breakthrough album, but it wasn't to be. Nearly 20 years later, he's still making records that are of or near this quality, and still routinely being described as 'underrated'. He probably always will be.