Critic's critic

Richard Cook's review of the new Norma Waterson album (Arts, 19 July) refers to Richard Thompson as an "old rock hack". None of us can avoid growing old, but to lay the rest of Cook's charge on a musician who, in his career of over 30 years, has been referred to with almost monotonous regularity as "the guitarists' guitarist" and "a national treasure", who in 1993-94 had not one but two tribute albums dedicated to his work, starring artists as disparate as REM, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama and Beausoleil, and who has worked with a truly astonishing array of jazz, folk, rock and classical musicians, reveals an ignorance so breathtaking as to leave the reader incapable of further trust in either the reviewer or the review.

One often hears of the artist's disdain for critics and, with barbs as ignorant as this, one can feel only sympathy for them. Given that Cook's name has yet to flash up anywhere on my CD collection, I am left presuming, as is so often the case, that Thompson has more talent in the fingernails he bites than can be constituted in Cook's frame. Artists such as Thompson deserve respect, not disdain, for the contributions they make. This insult brings discredit to both Cook and the New Statesman.

Paul McNamara
St Albans

This article first appeared in the 26 July 1999 issue of the New Statesman, I took tea with Pinochet