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Dire Straits

Sultans of Swing – The Very Best of Dire Straits

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve been wanting to review Dire Straits at MSJ for a while. The band have always played a classy form of rock music. Certainly Mark Knoplfer’s guitar really is the main magic and glue that holds it all together, but it’s a group effort, too. This band, even at their most accessible, was always interesting. At times they leaned towards progressive rock. This compilation features some well-known tracks and some more obscure ones. It’s all good and should prove entertaining to all fans of rock music.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sultans Of Swing

This was the first song by Dire Straits to get attention on the radio. It’s got a bluesy sort of guitar presence that’s far cooler than you might guess at first listen. Paying careful attention to that guitar-line really reveals a lot of depth. This track still holds up quite well, despite being heard so many times.

Lady Writer

A more uptempo piece, this has a lot in common with “Sultans of Swing” in other ways. I’ve always liked this a lot, perhaps even more than “Sultans…” I like the guitar solo on this one a lot and a love how Knopfler continues to solo as it fades out.

Romeo And Juliet

This is a mellower cut that reminds me of Dire Straits taking on Bob Dylan or Lou Reed. The chorus rocks out a bit more and is stronger than the verses are.

Tunnel Of Love

More high energy than the track that preceded it, this one is more straightforward rock than a lot of the other music here. It’s really Knopfler’s guitar that drives it. While in many ways this isn’t as strong as the tracks that preceded it, I really like the intricate mellow section later in the piece.

Private Investigations

An intricate and pretty piece of music, this has a lot of classical built into it. Frankly, I’d consider it progressive rock. It’s very mellow. The cool jam later, though, has more energy and combines a blues aesthetic and some killer guitar playing with an even more pure progressive rock arrangement.

Twisting By The Pool

This little rocker is a retro textured number that’s both fun and a bit of a change of pace.

Love Over Gold (Live Version)

As the parenthetical suggests, here we get a live version of this Dire Straits classic. It’s pretty and intricate and another that’s almost progressive rock.

So Far Away

This is another of Dire Straits’ better known pieces. It’s a tasty one that’s pretty typical for the straightforward, bluesy rock of the group.

Money For Nothing

Probably Dire Straits’ best known cut, most should have heard this piece if nothing else by the band. This rocks out a bit more than some of the other music the group did over the years. It includes a guest appearance by Sting, too. It’s a great tune that holds up well.

Brothers In Arms

A mellower, bluesy number, this one is quite tasty.

Walk Of Life

This energetic rocker has a lot of 1950s rock and roll built into it. It’s another fun one and a highlight of the set.

Calling Elvis

A blues rocker, this is another (as the title should suggest) with a lot of 1950s music built into it. Somehow, it’s also got quite a bit of prog rock on show.

Heavy Fuel

 For some reason this rocker has always made me think of the 1980’s output of Jethro Tull. It’s catchy and cool.

On Every Street

This track is one of the most sedate on show. It moves pretty slowly and doesn’t really do a lot for me.

Your Latest Trick (Live)

Percussion opens this live piece and holds it for a while. As the saxophone joins it becomes a rather jazzy number. The crowd sings along at times (even times went there aren’t vocals). This is a tasty mellow number.

Local Hero/Wild Theme (Live)
This instrumental is intricate and pretty. At times I’m reminded of Steve Howe. It works towards jazz fusion and progressive rock styles. It’s a tasty piece.
 
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