Articles

  • Kill to Get Crimson Review

    2 jui. 2011, 8h25m

    Mark Knopfler's 5th solo was released after he went on a detour with a solo album with Emmylou Harris, which was released in 2006 (unfortunately I don't own that album, but when I do get around to buying I will review it). Kill to Get Crimson is a modest, murky, and mature. It was beautifully produced album that was the first of Mark's to be created at his British Grove Studios in London. It had a slightly altered band, with only bassist Glen Worf returning from the band Mark assembled in Nashville circa 96. Dire Straits wing men Guy Fletcher and Danny Cummings fill out the rest of the band. The album is shorter than mark's previous solo outings, featuring only 12 tracks.

    The first track was released in the UK as the single. True Love Will Never Fade immediately showcases the brilliant 60's sounding production of the album, folky as hell. The song tells the story of a tattoo artist who meets his true love(and then loses her) as one of his clients. Mark's lyrics are effective and the overall message of the song is beautiful. Mark's signature clean strat tone is showcased on the song, albeit much more laid back than earlier appearances. The drumming is straight up and less powerful than Chad Cromwell, but all is well. The song is an excellent track to start off on.

    Track number two is entitled The Scaffolder's Wife. It is a dark and almost eery song, and as the title suggests it is a character piece about an always worrying "scaffolder's wife." The chorus is above average and the track features some fine flute and (scarce) guitar work, but overall it is a disengaging track that loses focus and goes on for far too long at the end.

    This is followed by The Fizzy and the Still, which sounds very similar to the first two tracks(one of the biggest problems this album has is that every song sounds alike.) Mark purges along with "proper" singing, whilst the music keeps moving along predictably. A boring track.

    Heart Full of Holes is a wonderful song, that features some lovely resonator playing. And some, finally, un-dull lyrics and singing. I'm not that keen on the arrangement, but it's a pleasant song to listen to, with some fine dynamics. Despite its' relatively long length, it seems to whisk along at a fine pace.

    Standout track, We Can Get Wild, is my second favourite song on the record. Its' one of those songs, where I just felt it was written just for me. The lyrics are beautiful and speak right to the heart and describe perfectly how I feel about my life "They're calling it a teenage scene/yes and i have a dream/don't know if i'll be a star/but i'm gonna play guitar/i've seen this rocking cat/i wanna be just like that/listen up right here/it's gonna be a beautiful year." The rocking cat in my case is Mark Knopfler, those lyrics mean a lot to me and the song is very special to me, personally. As for the instrumentation in the song, the organ is excellent, the guitar is biting, and the bass and drums hit the mark, spot on.

    Secondary Waltz was a song Mark originally put down as a demo in 1995, it tells a story about his childhood, told from his point of view as a youngster. The memories of the gym teacher he refers to in the song, Macintyre, obviously stuck with him through life. The song is indeed in waltz form. The panic of youth is perfectly captured in the lyrics(some of the them incredibly funny.) Guitar and Accordian work is top notch, a good track.

    The American single, Punish the Monkey, takes me back to Ride Across the River, with its' off beat rhythm and atmospheric synth work. The lyrics are good and the chorus is catchy. It's good to see Marks' bridges are getting less awkward as well, though there's still room for improvement.

    The line 'Kill to Get Crimson' comes from the song Let It All Go, which is sung from the point of view of a painter. It is a good-not great song, the chorus is touching. The lyrics are indeed, heartbreaking, showing just how attached people can get to their passions in life.

    Beautiful organ and guitar open Behind with the Rent. It then launches into a gospel-y rhythm, with Mark darkly singing the lyrics. The chorus is solid, and so is the song. It will never be a favourite of mine, though, as it starts to become repetitive by the end.

    The incredibly folky The Fish and the Bird is driven by quiet resonator pick and electric out-of-your-face notes, side by side with sparse brush hit drums. As always with straight up folk songs that Mark tries to pull off(Je Suis Desole immediately comes to mind), this is an almost boring song, that I would really have no interest in, if it weren't by Mark.

    Madame Geneva's keeps in tradition with a lot of the other songs on the album, eery and almost grim, with acoustic guitar at the heart. This one's lyrics are a lot stronger than tracks two and three however, going to a ballad writers' drinking problems, and is actually enjoyable to listen to.

    The absolute best track on the record comes with album closer In the Sky. The melody is just beautiful. Mark's lyrics are well inspired and the song is best heard with your eyes closed. Chris White's(formerly of dire straits) saxophone really is stunning. This track alone is worth the album price.

    Although some tracks really just fell on their face(Scaffolder's wife, Fizzy and The Still and Fish and the Bird) the fantastic tracks make up for them. An uneven album, that features some of Mark's worst work and easily some of his best.

    B
  • Shangri-La Review

    5 juin 2011, 11h48m

    Sup - been busy - I'm back.

    So Mark Knopfler's fourth studio album Shangri-La was released 2 years after Ragpicker's. This 2004 effort is filled with 14 tunes.

    It starts with the atmospheric 5.15 AM which immediately showcases the amazing sound quality of this album, Mark's singing is brilliant over clean guitar, drums and bass. It tells the story of the one armed bandit murder. The sound is wonderful to listen to - however one of my complaints about the track is that the lyrics are bit difficult to follow, causing the song to lose focus.

    The single from the album, Boom, Like That is track number 2 and sounds wonderful, the stinging, delayed guitar work accompanied by the solid rock rhythm(sadly this was Chad Cromwell's last album with Knopfler - this is perhaps his finest drumming) is what many people who missed the rocky Knopfler wanted. The song tells the story of Ray Kroc, the entrepreneur who made MacDonald''s what it is. Mark got the idea for it, from reading, Kroc's autobiography, "Grinding it Out," which I have since read, and I can say it's a fabulous read that I can recommend to anybody. This song hit the top forty in the UK and it's not hard to see why. Also the song kept getting better in live performances(check this one out for instance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuH3taDJkNU.) Great song, that I have covered many times.

    Track 3 is entitled Sucker Row." Mark sings with a grimace on this song, over the equally menacing instruments. I must admit I haven't paid much attention to this song in the past, however on what must be my umpteenth listen, I'm really being sucked in by this song, which I feel might have fit in very well on the Sailing to Philadelphia album. Again, what really is amazing is the drum work, I would give up many things if I could find a drummer as brilliant as Cromwell. Nothing more than a very good bluesy track.

    Next up comes The Trawlerman's Song, which has a very nice electric lead open it up. Mark's new found singing features again here(I must admit I like his rougher, talk sing better). The song of course tells the story of *the* Trawlerman moving out to sea. The lyrics are wonderful, the electric guitar's tone superb, the rhythm as tight as ever, all though one thing I can say is that I enjoyed the "live" version found on the One Take Radio Sessions EP better. One of my favourite off the album though.

    Knopfler's second composition concerning Elvis Presley (after Calling Elvis that is) comes next. The track entitled Back to Tupelo concerns Elvis's acting career and his manager. The song is one of my favourite tracks from the record. The lyrics are some of Knopfler's best - You'll Soon Be Back in Memphis Baby then You'll Know What to Do/The Story lines They're Giving You Are Just Not Ringing True and You Can Still Be Marlon Brando and the King of Rock and Roll. The gentle kick in of the drums during the chorus is touching, the whole song is uplifting/gentle/depressed all at the same time. Perhaps one of my favourite all time Knopfler songs.

    The kind-of title track Our Shangri-La is track number 6. I think it may be written about(/a tribute) the couple that own Shangri-La studios - where Knopfler recorded the album. It's a beautiful melody. A solid track, a tad overlong, and perhaps it wouldn't kill me if I never heard it again, but it's still beautiful.

    My personal favourite off the album comes with Everybody Pays, from the beautiful organ intro to the wistful guitar solo the track is spectacular. Opening with the astonishing "I Got Shot off My Horse So What I'm Up Again/Playing On One of these Big Saloons on Main," the song tells the story of a dangerous wild west gambler who keeps getting up again. The chorus is true in so many ways "Everybody Pays/Everybody Pays to Play." My favourite moment of the album comes when after the guitar solo Mark sings the lines "Curl Up Inside A Boxcar Dream and Disappear/With A Couple Low Roller Friends/You Were Never One For Trouble/So Get Out of Here/I Knew the Game Was Dangerous Back Then." Some of the greatest lyrics of all time, really Mark just hit it on the head with this one.

    Song for Sonny Liston is a song featuring the trio of Vocals Guitar/Bass/Drums in true blues fashion, with a recurring riff slurring along throughout, the song is nakedly produced and sounds RAW. It tells the intriguing, lonely story of down-on-his-luck legend of a boxer, Sonny Liston. The song is a fine tribute to him, the only complaint about this song from me was that there was no blistering solo, as if Mark didn't want to go past the clock or something, he's since added one live though. Fantastic beat/groove.

    Track 9: Whoop De Doo. One reviewer called this song cringe-worthy, i say he's a douche bag. The song is a lonesome song and a brilliant song to listen to when you're upset. The lyrics are sweet and the whole mood of the song is perfect for post-breakup. The subtle organ in the background is perfection.

    The upbeat(latiny?) Postcards from Paraguay is track number 10, the beat is OK, and shows yet another style MK can pull off(latiny?) but the track is slightly dull, the chorus is prettay good. Also, Mark does a very cool vocal thing towards the end.

    All That Matters is probably the worst song off the album, it seems to be perhaps a tribute to Mark's kids. Not to say it's un-listenable-it's quite all right-it probably just didn't need to be included on the album, it's fine though, since it's a quick track, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. The slide is a fine trait of the track.

    Stand Up Guy is a song I haven't listened to since Christmas Eve, which seems like forever ago. It's a nice laidback, easy going song, featuring again, some nice slide. It's a track I enjoy when I hear it, but I never really crave it. I can't really say much more about it, mark sweetly sings the song, accompanied by slide and acoustic guitar, as well as keys, and you begin to feel for the character. A very nice track.

    The brilliant tribute to Lonnie Donegan, Donegan's Gone, is driven by slide on a Dan Electro, in the key of G. The beat is brilliant, instead of writing an sad, mopey song about the passing of one of heroes, he honors him with this. The mumbling, electric slide interplay is fantastic. The track is short and to the point, one i want to listen to over and over.

    Album closer Don't Crash the Ambulance is rumored to be about George Bush handing over the presidency to Junior. The song is filled with double entrende lyrics and cuss words. It's all tongue in cheek of course. Listening to it now, I'm completely convinced it is indeed about the Bush's. It's a nice song to close on.

    All up, a couple of tracks could've easily been cut(Paraguay, all the matters). but overall it's a very well written, well performed, well produced album.

    A--
  • The Ragpicker's Dream Review

    13 avr. 2011, 0h20m

    The Ragpicker's Dream is the third solo album in Mark Knopfler's career and is a solid well produced, well written entry in his overall discography. It has a more subdued, acoustic feel than his previous two albums, but is still a good listen. The album came just two years after Sailing to Philadelphia which is a trend Knopfler has been following since.

    The incredibly well written, and brilliantly performed, Why Aye Man kicks the CD. Telling the story of "economic refugees," of all trades moving to Germany to find work. Mark has written a very good study of the guys that do this, all instruments sound absolutely spectacular, the beautiful runs on the Les Paul and organ, and the vocal performances by both Mark and the backups are the best amongst them. The production on the track is actually very crisp and sweet. The longing melancholy instrumental section at the very end is beautiful.

    Devil Baby is possibly my least favourite track on the record. It contains lyrics about members of a freak show - of course here the freak show is Jerry Springer's show. Sure Mark's vocal performance is great and the music he sings over is up to the same caliber. I'm just not sure whether this was supposed to be tongue in cheek or actually supposed to be sad. Because the lyrics are quite tragic.

    Next up is the track, Hill Farmer's Blues, which opens lovely, with Mark's Les Paul bouncing off the joyful other instruments - an interesting match. Marks vocals begin demanding attention, singing as a Hill Farmer, who seems to be fed up with everything. It's an eery track that only goes for just under 4 minutes, by the time it's gotten to the last half a minute, the drums are roaring and it's built to an angry sort of anti-climax, i feel the track could've gone on for longer, as the fadeout proves unsatisfying.

    The sad A Place Where We Used to Live follows. Mark once again sings the "blues in this," with the refrain - "Everything's Gone, But My Heart is Hanging On." A very depressing track, with no hope in sight. When I hear this song I see a guy roaming around a very misty town, as if he's just a ghost and no one can see him, peering in on his old establishments, feeling betrayed because everyone has moved on. Very subtle, well put together track.

    One of the more fun tracks follows, Quality Shoe, it's a very humorous, joyful song in tribute to Roger Miller. That will have you singing along and tapping your feet. I personally enjoy this song a lot and I believe it deserved the right to be on the album(It's one of the only upbeat tracks on the album.)

    The longest track on the album comes next, the brilliant, Fare Thee Well Northumberland, the song would be a good one to listen to on a train ride, pulling out of the station - which is what takes place in it. The ultimate leaving town song. "Roll on Geordie Boy, Roll," is awesome. One of the better tracks on the album - it's got a truly impenetrable groove - it ends up building to Mark grooving out himself over his solo - once again played on his Les Paul(the album truly was a Les Paul dominated one, though acoustic seemed to be very prominent as well - giving the album a very dry, bluesy, sour quality - which is not a bad thing at all.)

    Track 7 is titled Marbletown, and it runs on a groovy acoustic line, with Mark singing over it - one of the only times on a Straits or Solo album that this takes place. The entire track seems to be a showcase of Mark's folk/country ability, as the acoustic played is wonderful and hard edged, as well the vocal performance, not to mention the lyrics. You'll probably be singing along to the chorus by the end. A very nice track.

    Up next comes the soulful You Don't Know You're Born, which again has a sweet as groove driven by lovely guitar, unmistakable drums and a great bass/keyboard interaction. Mark takes down the guy he's attacking through his lyrics - who seems to not know life as well as the character singing.

    My personal favourite song off the record comes next in Coyote, which of course is told from the point of view of the roadrunner(who may not have any of the resources that the coyote has, but can still outrun and outwit him.) The lyrics contain very clever metaphors and some very odd references to Bob Dylan. Great song, if you haven't heard it, I highly recommend you go out and do that right now.

    The title track comes next, the lyrics are holiday themed. The music once again understated. The song is a song that has never really pulled me in, it sort of just comes and goes, without leaving any really impact on you. It's an OK listen, but it never really stays with you.

    One of Mark's shortest tracks in history comes with Daddy's Gone to Knoxville, which immediately sounds like it could've emerged from the 50s. It's a lovely little track, featuring a fine beat, a stellar vocal performances, lovely piano playing and some sweet Slide Playing. It's a nice addition to the album. Sounds really old school.

    The final track, Old Pigweed leaves the album on a good note. The song will never be one of my favourites, but it does a good job ending the album.

    The album is worth the listen and was definitely a worthy add the Mark's discography, however a couple of tracks, Devil Baby and perhaps the title track, seem to have needed more work or to have been cut.

    B
  • Sailing To Philadelphia Review

    14 mars 2011, 8h20m

    Sailing to Philadelphia is Mark Knopfler's second post Dire Straits album, coming out over 4 years after Golden Heart. Knopfler spent these four years focusing on film soundtracks. Let me start off by saying Sailing was the last Knopfler/Straits album I had to purchase to complete my collection(outside of all the road-running), and it was an album I was greatly anticipating, after hearing a few songs off it.

    The album kicks off with the Edinburgh inspired What It Is, which easily could've fit onto a Straits record. It features a clean stratocaster, ala Sultans of Swing and is beautifully written. My favourite part is the slow vocals that kick in around 2:35. It's a beautiful composition and has beautiful instrumental backing - the best being the weeping violin and the acoustic guitar. This is one of the best tracks off the album.

    Track 2 is the title track, Sailing to Philadelphia, which is my personal favourite off the album. Mark Knopfler's lyrics are so heartwarming(He calls me Charlie Mason/Stargazer Am I/It Seems that I was born/to chart the evening Sky/They Cut Me out For Picking Bread/But I had Other Dreams Instead.) James Taylor was perfectly cast and his vocal performance is amazing - it's a shame he never performed this on stage with Mark. The soloing and the keyboards are perfect on this song. It's one of my all time favourite Knopfler compositions, it fact I love the song so much that I'm currently reading Mason & Dixon, the book on which this song was based. Stunning.

    What is perhaps the weakest track on the album follows - Who's Your Baby Now, which only goes for 3 minutes. I don't like much about this song, Mark's vocal performance is just non compelling, the lyrics are repetitive and juvenile and the instruments are boring. If this track wasn't on here, it might be the perfect album.

    Baloney Again is one of my favourite songs off the album, from the sweet harmonica intro, into Mark's Les Paul soloing jam with the harmonica, through to his amazing lyrics. The song is about racism and is very well written. You really do feel for the character Mark is singing about, he's just out trying to share with people his love for God and the racism just pierces his heart and yours. I'm not that keen on the bridge - it seems very sudden, but the end of it is awesome - I don't know who the back up singer was but he nailed it.

    The Last Laugh is a duet with Van Morrison, who again like James Taylor was perfectly cast for the song. It's a song you feel like you've heard before, both give solid vocal performances and the reverb-y guitar is perfect. The lyrics are great, really about perseverance.

    Do America is a song that wasn't included on a few versions of the cd. It's the rock song of the album and is very good. Most people see it's too silly, but I really don't see how. Knopfler gives a cool vocal performance and itt's a good parody of young kids who go round the world playing their "Song." It contains a mad guitar riff and some very funny lyrics(Backstage passes for the food and booze/Sunglasses for my interviews/Statue of Liberty/Everybody looking at me.) It adds some good balance to all the slow songs on the album.

    Another of my all time Knopfler songs comes with track 7, Silvertown Blues, I truly believe that if this was released with the Straits in 1985 it could've been a number 1 hit. The lyrics are haunting and the chorus is very well constructed. The guitar is simple but effective and most of all the guys from Squeeze do a beautiful job on backup vocals. The message to the song is very true. Just because you can make something glamorous and upper class, doesn't mean you should. Looking back now, this is probably my favourite Knopfler chorus ever(I'm Going Down, Silvertown), i have to sign along, no matter what. This song is perfect.

    El Macho is a pretty cool song. The lyrics are quite and could be seen as funny or extremely threatening depending on how you look at it. I.e. a homosexual guy, who is well known from TV could be about to get seriously hurt or it could be taken as tongue in cheek. The only reason I'm leaning to the more dangerous interpretation is because of the atmosphere of the song - all though that just be more tongue in cheek. No real complaints about this song.

    Prairie Wedding is a laidback song, written about a guy meeting his mail order bride. It is simple in it's instrumentation, never takes off - which is a good thing. I think it's a nice story song and it has a catchy chorus.

    Wanderlust is one of the best off this album, the lyrics are straight and to the point, the guitar as well. Most people probably don't think too much of this song, because of how simple it is, but I believe it's one the most emotive on the album. It evokes true loneliness. Just a man who just travels and keeps on traveling(or wants to).

    Now before purchasing the album, I had read many comments by fans saying Speedway At Nazareth was Mark's best track ever. I was slightly disappointed when I listened to it, thinking it was going to be amazing. The lyrics are all right, but nothing special really. The solo is pretty good, I must admit, but overall the songs only about 3/5 at best. Not really compelling other than the solo.

    Junkie Doll is a rad blues song that has great lyrics about being addicted to a girl or drugs(or both more likely.) It has a really cool old school quality. It adds great balance to the sort of slow second side of the album. This is also one of Mark's best vocals on the album. The way the drums kick in at the second verse is awesome. Little bit of this'll get you up/Little bit of that'll get you down is rad as well. Blues solo is sweet and so is the drumming and the bass.

    Sands of Nevada is an atmospheric number about a Gambling addict who's lost it all, telling the tale of his remorse. The thing about this song is the guy is so addicted that even after he's hit rock bottom and realises it, he just keeps going back to the slots/tables. It's a well written, touching song detailing the devastation caused by gambling addiction.

    The album concludes with the beautiful One More Matinee which Mark claimed he had been working on since the mid 70s, it's another well written song. It has a very uplifting chorus/refrain/outro, "somethings gonna happen to make your whole life better, your whole life better one day," it's a very uplifting song to listen to and is very touching. My only complaint is Mark's vocal reading could've been a little bit more heartfelt, but it's all good - a very good album closer.

    Overall this album is up there in my top 5, maybe even top 3 or 2 Knopfler/Straits albums, every moment, every song has its' place(except who's your baby now.) A modern masterpiece.

    A+

    Knopfler followed this up, two years later with the country-tinged The Ragpicker's Dream which I'll try and review asap.
  • Golden Heart Review

    7 mars 2011, 10h21m

    Golden Heart was released in 1996 and was Mark Knopfler's way of walking away from the stadium days of Dire Straits. Which really on the personnel side didn't mean that much - dire straits by that point had dwindled to Alan Clark, Guy Fletcher, John Illsley and Mark, John and Alan stayed behind, but Mark took Guy to Nashville to record this album. He found some great sidemen there, Richard Bennett, Glenn Worf, Jim Cox and the best drummer to work with Mark since Pick Withers, Chad Cromwell(this guy is amazing.)

    The songwriting on this album is not as big as a departure from the songwriting on On Every Street, as say from Making Movies to Love Over Gold, but there's certainly a little more of maturity present here. I think it's unfair when people say Mark Knopfler changed his style of music when he went solo, because this has been apparent all through his career, all the straits album apart from the first two are all very different in styles.

    I must also say I took a while to get into this album as when I got it I was still obsessed with Love Over Gold and Brothers in Arms, but I've come to appreciate it.

    Anyway the album kicks off with the first single from the album, Darling Pretty, which is one of the more personal songs in Knopfler's career, where he professes his love for his new wife "Kitty." The song is all right, I'd never call it a favourite, but I can tell Knopfler put a lot of his heart and soul into the lyrics. The solos are OK, as is the Scottish music intro. My biggest problem with the song is the bridge has always seemed slightly awkward to me. Solid Opener.

    Imelda is a rocking track number two, that features very educational and well crafted lyrics about Imelda Marcos(Mark's songs have always been very educational to me.) The guitar riff is a worthy contender to rival Money for Nothing - I think this may have been a big hit if it was released with the Straits. Great Riff, Great Lyrics, Great Solo.

    Golden Heart is next and is a song that took me a while to appreciate, it's a well written, mature track. I probably wouldn't miss it, if I never heard it again, but it is pleasant to listen to.

    No Can Do is a rocking song that tells the story of a backpacker(possibly Mark) working in a warehouse to make his way around. It's a great rocker thrown into the album and has an awesome sound. My only complaint is the vocals are WAY too far down in the mix. At times I could barely hear Mark. Otherwise, fantastic.

    Vic and Ray is a chilling song that is always a welcome listen for me. The lyrics are simple, but tight, same for the music.

    Don't You Get It is a simple song with great guitar solos. The lyrics are slightly odd(I can't even begin to imagine Mark writing this song), but it's a fun song.

    A Night in Summer Long Ago is possibly my least favourite song on the record. I'm sure I'll come to appreciate it with time, but I can't help but think this easily could've been cut from the album. The music and lyrics are both un-engaging, though I can see what Mark was going for.

    Cannibals is a very fun track and the last in Mark Knopfler's rockabilly fun trilogy(Cannibals, The Bug and Walk of Life.) The drum intro/outro is one of my favourite parts of the album and I look forward to learning how to play it one day(I was disappointed to learn the drum intro was cut for the 2007 tour, but then again probably only Chad Cromwell could pull it off.) The lyrics are great and sometimes I even consider this better than Walk of Life. My favourite part of the lyric is ("Daddy why do people go to war?") just great throwing that in there.

    When I first got the album, I'm the Fool and Cannibals were my favourite tracks. I'm the Fool is a very heartfelt track that is engaging and touching. I sort of burned myself out on it at the start, but I recently listened to it again and it holds up.

    Je Suis Desole is my least favourite track on the album, I gave it another chance recently and still can't get into it. I appreciate Mark was trying to try out as many different musical styles as he could on this album, but this is easily disposable.

    Rudiger is a song I only came to like recently when listen to the live version on One Track Radio Sessions, I sort of ignored it before, but it is a chilling jazz number that is a brilliant and haunting. Another of Mark's great character songs.

    Nobody's Got a Gun is a song with a great message, it features some of Mark's best vocals on the album. Liked this one straight off.

    Done with Bonaparte is perhaps my favourite song off the entire album, I started listening to it more recently and I can't get enough. It's a fabulous anti-war song with a "riff," that sounds like it could be a hundred years old. I always find myself singing along and weeping at the things the soldier has had to suffer(And I lost an Eye at Austerlitz/The Sabre's Slash Yet Give Me Pain.") One of my favourite Knopfler songs.

    The Album ends with Are We in Trouble Now which is I think, another personal song to Mark. It's a very sweet, romantic song. Beautiful.

    All up, this was a pretty solid debut solo album for Mark, where he mixed many different music styles, most of the time coming up on top. It took him over 4 years to follow it up. But thankfully it was worth the wait, with the fantastic Sailing to Philadelphia. I'll try and review that next week.

    A--
  • On Every Street Review

    6 fév. 2011, 10h55m

    I made it - just under a month ago was when I posted my Brothers in Arms review and now it's time to review the final Dire Straits studio album, On Every Street. I admit this is my least favourite Mark Knopfler album ever, but that doesn't mean it's outright terrible. Saying that, it's probably my least played and the one I'm least familiar with, I probably couldn't even name all the songs off it. I will try my best to be fair and unbiased in this review, though.

    Calling Elvis is the ripper that opens the album. It's probably always been my favourite off the album, but it still could've been a better track. The lyrics and atmosphere of the track are amazing and it was a great choice for the opening track. I love in particular the use of using Elvis's song titles to make up the lyrics... lucky Elvis put out some songs that rhymed. The fast little scale guitar part is pretty cool, though it gets slightly boring during the jam outro.

    On Every Street is pretty good. The lyrics are amazing(Three Chord Symphony crashes into space/the moon is hanging upside down, i don't know why it is i'm still on the case/it's a ravenous town), those ones in particular stand out as some of Knopfler's best and sends shivers down my spine. The song is almost like a sequel to Private Investigations, in that it's told from the point of view of a possible P.I. or a former one - also note they both incorporate long, repetitive outros(which work amazingly in both cases). My only complaint about this song is that it would've been alot better if it had been the last track on the album. (and a fitting song to end the Straits)

    What follows is the country tinged track When It Comes To You, which isn't atrocious, but it seems like it never gets going and wasn't really essential to the album. The lyrics weren't anything special either.

    Jazz has never really been out of place for Dire Straits - ranging from Six Blade Knife, to Your Latest Trick to, It Never Rains but those songs were sizzling and interesting, whereas track 4, Fade To Black, never gets cooking nor does it ignite any feeling within you, the lyrics aren't as smart as Six Blade Knife nor are the vocals as heart wrenching. It's a song that had great potential that was utilized.

    After Brothers in Arms it was almost like Mark Knopfler believed he had to include one upbeat rockabilly tune on each of his album from Walk of Life to The Bug to Cannibals. Not that there's really much wrong with that all three tracks are fairly enjoyable, however The Bug is probably the weakest of the trio. It's a fun song, with a nice message (one day you're on top of the world, the next day you might be in hell, but it's all part of life), but it sort of has some terrible mixing, Mark almost mumbles the lyrics and the vocals were too far down in the mix.

    You and Your Friend, i believe evolved from the early, unreleased Straits song "Me and My Friend." It's a fairly boring track that was performed better on the On The Night live album.

    Heavy Fuel was probably an attempt to satisfy the Money for Nothing audience, as it uses a similar guitar riff(a million times weaker) and is also written from the point of view of a similar character. It's okay song, like a lot of the tracks on this record, it probably would've benefited from some more time spent on it.

    Iron Hand is the only time Mark Knopfler has put me to sleep. The track is just utterly boring for lack of a better word - no wait un-engaging.

    Now I'm sure Ticket To Heaven seemed like a good idea way back when, but it just hasn't stood the test of time. It just comes off as smug.

    My Parties is a track that most fans hate. But I think it's actually not that bad. The lyrics are - the chorus is allright it's probably about a 2.5/5 track, not amazing, but listenable.

    The last two songs, The Planet of New Orleans and How Long are both forgettable tracks emphasizing on jazz and country respectively. Both are mediocre tracks with some OK lyrics and atmosphere. How Long probably tops When it Comes To You.

    Also it puzzles me as to why How Long was chosen as the album closer.

    Overall, this was a very, very disappointing album for me and is no where the power and caliber of all of Mark's other works. Thankfully he bounced back with 1996's Golden Heart.

    Tune in Next week for that review.

    C---
  • Brothers In Arms Review

    7 jan. 2011, 10h59m

    Allright, here it comes, I've kind of put off writing this review for a while and I have no idea why. First let me start off by saying this is probably my favourite album of all time(though Love Over Gold and Dire Straits come close - so I'm sorry if it's a bit overly positive.

    So Far Away starts the album off. The track hit 19 on the American charts, so it's fairly well known. I must admit I wasn't that big a fan of it when I first listened to this one, because I was so caught up in Walk of Life and Money for Nothing, but now I really dig it. It's a great catchy lyric that makes you always want to sing along, it's a great song made melancholy, when reading the lyrics, it could've been the most depressing song ever produced. I love Mark's vocal on this one and it's cool that he didn't really shred out or do a long winding solo because it would've broken the beat. Great song.

    Money for Nothing comes next and is probably the most "Rock" song Mark Knopfler ever wrote. Starting off with the big buildup featuring synth, Sting singing the MTV vocal hook and drums, as well as some distorted guitar. Now, the buildup is amazing, and the moment when everything just stops and the most memorable and rocking guitar riff of all time kicks, it's one of my favourite moments in music of all time, but after listening to it probably 60 times, it's gotten a bit boring the whole buildup and I can see why Mark just started the song off without the buildup live after a while. That being said, this is probably my favourite track of all time, or at least in the top 3. The vocal performances of both Sting and Mark are just breathtaking, the lyrics both funny and cool, the guitar rocking. And when I hear the shortened version I feel cheapened, the four minutes of dueting is awesome. Also the version on this album is without a doubt the best one, the live performances NEVER came close. Oh and one more thing I can't not turn on my amp and not want to play the riff on guitar. One word: masterpiece.

    Walk of Life is the 3rd big hit from this album and again one of the Strait's best known songs. The keyboard riff is great, as is the writing and Mark's singing and playing(as if it wouldn't be), I particularly love the "woohoo," magic. I can't hear this song and not want to dance, it's just such a beautifully upbeat track. One thing I can say is, with this song I feel it sounds better in my headphones or computer speakers, than in the car - it just doesn't sound right. Other than that 10/10 song, he even snuck in some deep lyrics with "after all the doubletalk and violence there's just a song in all the trouble and the strife." I thought that was nice.

    Your Latest Trick is the jazzy track on the album, that is propelled not by a guitar riff but by Saxophone. The reason i wanna get into saxophone is because of this song, the sax just sounds phenomenal. The lyrics are great too. A nice song that gives a break from guitar mastery.

    Why Worry is next and is probably the sweetest Straits track. The lyrics are very comforting and the music is beautiful, the length is just a tad long, but it's still great.

    Ride Across the River follows and is the first of three war-themed songs on the CD. I must admit this is one of my least favourite tracks on the album, but recently I've grown to love it more. It's a very atmospheric jungle track. Some of the lyrics are superb(Right becomes wrong/Left Becomes Right). Starting to appreciate it more. Mad track.

    The Man's Too Strong is the second of the war-themed and I've always loved the song. Some of Knopfler's strongest vocals ever and best lyrics, including the major ownage of the protagonist to the antagonist (You may have got your silver but I swear Upon my life/Your sister gave me diamonds and I gave em to your wife). The guy got dominated. The Synth guitar and chorus are great.

    Perhaps the weakest track follows, One World, it's a funky track dominated by bass and synth. It's a short song, so it's not exactly a problem, but it doesn't have as much replay value as the others. Still a very good song though. I dig the beat and lyrics(There's no such thing as sanity and that's the sanest fact.)

    The album closer is also the title track in Brothers in Arms, the lyrics are some of my favourite of all time and is one of the few Straits songs that has made me cry and it's message is one of the strongest conveyed ever in song, I've read a youtube comment stating that this should be the world anthem and I completely agree, "We're Fools to Make War on our Brothers In Arms" is perhaps the best anti-war statement of all time. The guitar is amazing and it's a great album closer. Another masterpiece.

    Yes the album sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is one of the biggest reasons Dire Straits are remembered and yes it was helped by So Far Away, Money for Nothing, Walk of Life and the smart computer-animated video clip, but I'm sure the majority of the 30 million people who bought the album for those reasons also fell in love with the rest of the album because it is highly influential, well written, well performed music.



    Hopefully next week, On Every Street.

    A+
  • Love Over Gold Review

    12 déc. 2010, 11h43m

    Love Over Gold is an incredible departure from the Strait's previous three albums. It is so incredibly mature, so dark, so much deeper than the material coming before it. It's been described as their progressive album. It also incorporates their standard rockabilly and introduces Jazz.

    The album begins with the whopping FOURTEEN minute long atmospheric opener Telegraph Road, which is amazing. Amazing. I love the way the song opens up, it makes you feel like you are walking along a dusty road. The guitar is what most people probably find great here, and it is good but the lyrics are probably the best thing about this track. It tells the story of the evoloution of society. It begins with the phenomonal "Along Time ago came man on a track/walking thirty miles with a sack on his back/he put down his load where he thought it was best/made a home in the wilderness. And then goes on to tell about the churches, schools and lawyers that emerged and the rules that came with them. There's one moment I like imparticular and that is when everything slows down and Mark Reads the line "6 lanes of traffic, 3 lanes moving slow." Probably my favourite moment in music ever. Just perfectly written and performed.

    What comes next is another one of Knopfler's best compositions Private Investigations, Knopfler plays a P.I. and tells us about his occupation. The lyrics are great and Knopfler's reading is great. It features great acoustic guitar. And after the lyrics have been "sung-talked," Illsley starts up a great repititive bass lines and the rest of the band jams over it. The distorted guitar that suddenly jolts you is great. This song is great on the album but it kept getting better in live performances.

    Industrial Disease comes next. I must admit I wasn't too keen on this track when I first heard it, but repeated listens have made me appreciate it more and more. It's got a great beat and is almost like a precursor to Walk of Life with it's signature keyboard riff. The lyrics are pretty clever. The highlight of which is when the character goes to see Dr. Parkinson (You've got smoker's cough from smoking/Brewer's Droop from drinking beer.) A great moment is at the end where Knopfler says "I'm off, I'm sick." Awesome.

    Love Over Gold is one of the least-loved tracks off the album, but it's still great. Knopfler gives an extremely good vocal performances here and the piano is great. It also has an amazing outro. The song is apparently written about the same girl Knopfler wrote Romeo & Juliet about, the same with the next track;

    It Never Rains, which has a great chorus and features some inventive lyrics by Knopfler, the only negative of this song is it drags on a slight bit, when really it doesn't need to.

    Pick Wither's drumming was at it's best on this album, it was too bad he left.

    Overall this is one of my favourite albums and was a big jump forward for Marky and the Boys. It gets better with every listen, it's so damn good.

    A+

    Next Up Brothers in Arms
  • Making Movies Review

    26 nov. 2010, 7h53m

    Making Movies is the third album from Dire Straits, and the third released in the three years. Most people consider one of the, if not the best Straits album. Why? I have absouletely no idea. Apart from one or two tracks, it's nothing special, compared to say Love Over Gold, Brothers in Arms or Dire Straits.

    Lets take a look at the tracks.

    Tunnel of Love opens the album and is the first time extreme musical complexity is really used by the Straits. It starts off with an excerpt from Rodgers and Hammerstein, "The Carousel Waltz," due to the fact it's about a travelling carnie and the loves he meet all around. The lyrics are spectactular, music's good, it's just a tad long, clocking it at just over 8: 00 minutes, when it really didn't need to. It's a well made song, but for SOME reason, I can't get into that much, I have no idea why.

    The best track on the album Romeo and Juliet has perhaps the best guitar Knopfler has ever put out. Played on a steel national, it is instantly recognizable. The song tells the story of a young man who yearns to be back with his sweetheart after she got famous and left him still poor. The lyrics are great. This is one where it's probably a really personal song to Knopfler. It seems to come straight from the heart. Beautiful

    Skateaway is an ok song, however it goes for too long, the guitar riff isn't anything special. It's nothing amazing, C+ at best.

    Expresso Love has an excellent guitar riff that is coupled with piano, that sets it up to be a great track. The lyrics start off and it's the second song in a row focusing just a female character. Overrall it's probably better than Skateaway.

    The ballady Hand In Hand comes up next, and it's farely beautiful, the lyrics are great. Just becomes slightly repititive, and normally repititive in Knopfler is good, but this time not so much.

    Solid Rock is the real rock number on the album it's farely well written, sadly the vocals are buried way down in the mix(probably to emulate a band playing in a pub feel).

    What comes next is what is widely considered to be Knopfler's worst song, it's a track called Les Boys. I wouldn't consider it a bad song, it's just too silly.

    Now, I've given farely positive reviews for each song. However the songs just feel like they were written so quickly, so hastily and they are barely fleshed out. It's probably because Mark was being pressured into creating another album and it had to be released quick. If he had've spent some more time on this, it could've been better, it just feels so unpolished. Only has a few truly good songs, expect more from mark & co. Overrated, B---

    Next week Love Over Gold
  • Communique Review

    12 nov. 2010, 11h10m

    Dire Straits rushed out their sophomore album less than year after their succesful debut. Communique is oft regarded by fans as a less enjoyable retread of the first album. Yes there are some weak tracks, but for the most part this is a brillaint album.

    Once Upon A Time In The West is a cooly written song which fuses old west guitar with dry lyrics. The result is a very fun track. You'll probably end up singing along to this one.

    News, the most pub rock track, the straits have ever released, is a contempary "rocker" that travels along at a snails pace. It is an ok song, but nothing is innovative or fresh in it. The last line of the lyric did send chills down my spine though. And it's got a cool pre Bon Jovi nod to a motorbike being a steel horse.

    Where do You Think You're Going? is perhaps the best song on the CD. It provides some of Knopfler's best singing and lyrics he's ever put out. A top track, the emotion in the song is vividly displayed.

    Communique is a average song and the first weak on the album. It still provides clever lyrics, but it drags on roughly two minutes than it needs to. To me, when I listen to I start getting bored around the three minute mark.

    Lady Writer is the only single from the album, is actually a pretty catchy tune, although it will always be overshadowed by it's big brother Sultans of Swing, it's a very well written song, and the guitar solo is amazing, sometimes I do prefer it to Sultans.

    This is when things start losing steam.

    Angel Of Mercy actually sheds light to the vocal style Mark would eventually undertake on the Brothers in Arms, but the lyrics aren't as strong as I normally expect from him. It's an allright song.

    Portobello Belle was included on the first Dire Straits compilation Money for Nothing, and the reason why has always eluded me. The song is just boring, it perhaps could've become something better, if they worked on it a bit longer, but they didn't and the result was a dreary track. The only real positive thing here is Knopfler's vocals.

    Singled handed sailor has a carribean feel to it almost and is another of the tracks that really weren't overly neccesary, though out of the last four tracks, it's possibly the best. Even then, it still only feels like B-Side material.

    Follow Me Home is the album's closer(the album has 9 tracks just like the one before it) and features sound effects which strive to create a nice beach atmosphere and it is cool to hear Mark's geetar slowly striding in, the track almost feels like a prequel to Ride Across the River. After almost 2 minutes the vocals kick in(using the same first line of the last track as the first album, Sun Go Down,) revealing a very laidback lyric.

    Summing up the first 5 tracks of the album are solid, but after there every just feels unfocused and almost filler. The album is good, not great and overall probably Knopfler's weakest effort so far. C++