Saturday, January 16, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 79: Dire Straits

The next disc features what I consider to be the greatest guitar player alive, Mark Knopfler.

Disc 79 is...Love Over Gold
Artist: Dire Straits

Year of Release: 1982

How I Came To Know It: I've known the band for many years - but didn't know this album until Sheila introduced me to it.

How It Stacks Up: Together, we have all of Dire Straits albums - which are 6 studio and 1 live album. It's not that I don't like this album, but I've got to put it 5th out of these 7 albums. There are some strong albums holding it down, but I'll talk about those when I roll them.

Rating: 3 stars.

This album is strong because Dire Straits is such a good band, but when it is compared against other albums of theirs, I think it is a bit weak.

The first thing most people notice is the album only has five songs - and four of those are noodle-fests that range from 6:16 to 14:15 in length. Most of these I could probably cut about 1-2 minutes out of if Dire Straits had invited me into the studio and let me help. I mean - who puts a restraining order on a 12 year old? I think they totally over-reacted.

Anyway, the longest song on the album, "Telegraph Road" is also the best. This song is a rock and roll epic, which follows the fortunes of a town, from when the first person decided to settle there:

"A long time ago came a man on a track
walking thirty miles with a sack on his back
and he put down his load where he thought it was the best
he made a home in the wilderness"

All the way through as the town grows, becomes a mining town, and becomes a metropolis, as demonstrated by one of my favourite lines:

"There's six lanes of traffic
Three lanes moving slow."

Just as the town is fully developed, the song morphs into the story of just one person in the town, who's fallen on hard times along with the town's economy:

"I used to like to go to work but they shut it all down,
I've got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found."

Until our character just decides to bundle up his woman and head out of town for something better - with another one of the best closing rants in music:

"but believe in me baby and I'll take you away
from out of this darkness and into the day
from these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rain
from the anger that lives on the streets with these names
'cos I've run every red light on memory lane
I've seen desperation explode into flames
and I don't wanna see it again."

This last bit really reminds me of Bruce Springsteen, and there are even musical elements that are quite similar to what Bruce was doing around the same time (The River).

The song goes from being about the fortunes of a town, to the fortunes of a man in that town. I really like how through both words and music, Mark Knopfler shows how we are emotionally intertwined with our community, and how even at its largest, a city is just a collection of individual stories.

"Telegraph Road" is one of my all time favourite Dire Straits songs, yet when I did my own best of albums I had to leave it off...because it was over fourteen frickin' minutes long! Unlike some of the other tracks though, I wouldn't cut it anywhere, and the fact that most of this review is about this one song isn't an indictment of the other four as much as a statement of the quality of "Telegraph Road".

In other news, the hit on this album was "Industrial Disease". Sheila likes it, but I think it is kind of silly - I prefer "Walk of Life" for this jumpy aspect of Dire Straits' music. Personally, I think at 5:49 it was the only song short enough for radio play. Good thing they didn't try to press this record in the sixties.

I would say this album is for Dire Straits completionists only. It is solid on its own, but there are just too many other better records to get first.

Best tracks: Telegraph Road, It Never Rains.


Sheila said...

It's "run every red light on memory [u]lane[/u]", Mister Typo.

I agree on your rating and the reasons for it, but I still think "Industrial Disease" is a fun song. It was my very first Dire Straits song I ever heard - I remember dancing to it in Grade 10.

Joel C said...

For some reason Industrial Disease reminds me of a Monty Python a good way.

I came to this album late...about 3yrs ago. Private Investigations is a highlight for me on this album as well...