Dire Straits emerged during the post-punk era of the late '70s, and while their sound was minimalistic and stripped down, they owed little to punk. If anything, the band was a direct outgrowth of the roots revivalism of pub rock, but where pub rock celebrated good times, Dire Straits were melancholy. Led by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler, the ... Read more in Amazon's Dire Straits Store
What an Album. Forget the MOR laziness of Brothers in Arms, Love Over Gold was Dire Straits finest hour, with Mark Knopfler reaching a standard of song writing that he would never repeat. He has always been a songwriter in the storyteller style, settings scenes and moods with his words and subtle riffs and licks, and on this album he was at his peak. If you only ever purchase one Dire Straits album buy this one.
The opening and longest track Telegraph Road sets the scene. It is an epic song taking up a third of the albums running time on its own, with a single keyboard note opening that must have surely been influenced by Pink Floyd 'Shine on you crazy Diamond'. The song continues with a story being told of industrial rise and decline and the piano teasing the listener with hints of an ending, eventually building up to an awesome finale where Dire Straits up the tempo and let rip, ending on a scale they would never reach again.
Private Investigations can only be described as an absolute classic track and for me, beyond criticism. The track successfully carries emotion and opens with the piano and acoustic guitar playing off against each other. This partnership continues throughout and builds up to the powerful piano chords and drums, which evoke such emotion at the end. This track never fails to make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
Industrial disease is possibly the most commercial track on the album and is almost daring to be cheerful. I get the feeling this track is very much tongue in cheek and almost feels a little out of place on this album, but ends up providing a bit of light relief. It sometimes comes as a shock on the CD when this track begins so comparatively abruptly after the slow ending of 'Private Investigations.
I don't think even Mark Knopfler fully knows what the title track is all about but is up to standard and is worthy of title track status. There are some beautiful and intriguing lyrics in this track but I won't repeat them here, you will have to buy it to find out, and that acoustic guitar\piano partnership appears again to good effect.
'It never rains' is a good finisher and couldn't be anywhere else on the album. It is strong enough to end on but couldn't appear any earlier. It only perhaps seems less impressive because of the sheer quality of the earlier tracks.
This album is far from commercial and perhaps this is part of its appeal. The songs are unquestionably presented on a grand scale, but the album avoids being pompous and self-indulgent. It seems far removed from the early albums 'Dire Straits', 'Communiqué' and the heavily Estreet band influenced 'Making Movies', and so far away, (see what I did there) from the obvious radio friendliness of Brother in Arms and later release On Every Street, which lacked focus and direction. Also at only 5 tracks Love Over Gold long is devoid of any fill-in tracks or excess and is perfect. It is one of the most complete albums I own and is one of my all time favourites. As I write this review the songs are going through my head, and I only hope my words have done justice to one of the finest albums ever released by any artist. I return to Love Over Gold from time to time and rediscover it all over again, and it is never anything less than a pleasure. Like I said earlier, if you only ever purchase one Dire Straits album, buy this one.Read more ›
"Dire Straits" was a very good album. "Communiqué" was a good album". "Making Movies" was an excellent album. "Love Over Gold" was an outstandingly brilliant album. From the opening bars of "Telegraph Road" we know this is something special. This is stronger, more subtle, richer and so much more confident than anything Mark Knopfler had done before. The Midwestern Odyssey that is "Telegraph Road" (named after an extraordinarily ugly freeway in Detroit) shows a lyrical strength that Knopfler had barely revealed before. One line towards the end of the song - "I've run every red light on Memory Lane" - is so profoundly and desperately poetic that it promotes Knopfler, within the 14-minute length of the song, from the second division to the premier league of songwriters. Add to this the fact that "Telegraph Road" encompasses so many moods in its music and you'll appreciate that this is a very, very special song. The surprise number 1 hit single, "Private Investigations" is a uniquely Dire Straits piece. Without being exceptional in either musical or lyrical terms it has a strong enough mood to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately, it's followed by the very weak "Industrial Disease". Very few people can write funny songs successfully, and Mark Knopfler isn't one of them. There must be many ways in which the issues of alienation from industrialized society could be addressed and satire is definitely a strong contender. While it's obvious that the band felt the mood of the album needed some lightening, this song didn't really succeed in the attempt. "Love Over Gold" is pleasant enough but doesn't add a great deal to the album. It does, however, fade into the highlight of the album, and, indeed, of Dire Straits' career: "It Never Rains". This song starts fairly blandly, with organ, guitar and drums joining in turn and introducing a standard Knofler lyric/vocal. Once we pass the first three verses, though, it REALLY takes off. Power and menace come into the playing, the lyrics become edgier and more threatening and the disintegration of the subject proceeds apace: "It's a sad reminder when your organ-grinder has to come to you for rent / And all you've got to give him is the use of your sideshow tent". The final verse is as strong as anything Knopfler has written and climaxes in the supremely nasty couplet: "And he'll take you down to Vaudeville Valley, with his hand up smothering your screams / And he'll screw you down in Tin Pan Alley, in the city of a billion dreams". An astounding guitar solo follows and gradually fades, leaving the listener breathless and shaken. This was truly Mark Knopfler's finest 9 minutes.Read more ›
Mark Knopfler obviously loves to write passacaglias - pieces of music that start with a very basic theme, played by only one or very few instruments and, often over repeated crescendos and slow-downs, increasing in volume and instrumentation to a rousing finale, performed by either all instruments or the instrumental lead "voice;" in Knopfler's case of course his trademark Fender Strat. "Brothers in Arms" has elements of a passacaglia, and so does "Speedway to Nazareth" on his 2000 solo release, "Sailing to Philadelphia." His greatest achievement though, not only in this regard, has to be "Telegraph Road," the opening track of "Love Over Gold." In a little over 14 minutes, the song rises from a simple opening melody, evoking the loneliness of that man walking along a deserted track at the beginning of the song's story, to a final guitar solo which is among the most ambitious and evocative pieces of music written by anyone in recent decades, anywhere and in any musical category. In between, there are no less than two other guitar solos, each of them over a minute long; dramatic centerpieces in their own right in any song but this one. And like the song's instrumentation, its lyrics trace the story of civilization from that one man walking along a track to a modern city, with six lines of traffic (three lines moving slow), unemployment, desolation and anger; so apparent in Knopfler's coarse vocals in the final verse and echoed with even greater force in the instrumental finale. "Telegraph Road" is followed by the sinister "Private Investigations," reminiscent of Alan Parsons's interpretation of the Poe classic "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (listen to that steady beat underneath the instrumental part and tell me you don't hear the "Tell Tale Heart"), and as daring and elaborate in its composition as "Telegraph Road." Both pieces are made possible by the advent of Alan Clark and his skills as a pianist; and yet, here as there it is Knopfler's guitar play that takes front and center stage. Next is the wicked "Industrial Disease," followed by the album's title track, and last, "It Never Rains," Knopfler's bow to Bob Dylan, rendered in an interpretation so true to life that you inadvertently feel yourself transported back by a decade or more and expect him switch into "The Times They Are A-Changin'" any second. One may wonder why the record, given its mostly gloomy and cynical mood, was not named for one of the two equally stunning and dark first tracks. Perhaps, however, the answer lies in the title song's last verse: "It takes love over gold and mind over matter to do what you do that you must, when the things that you hold can fall and be shattered or run through your fingers like dust." The album's cover rightly (although somewhat unnecessarily) describes "Love Over Gold" as "one of Dire Straits' most ambitiously conceived projects to date" and points out that it "reflects almost a year's worth of meticulous attention." Short of his film music (which he was not to start writing until a year later, with "Local Hero"), this album was the closest yet that Knopfler has come to classical composition; not just in the record's first two masterpieces but right down to little details like the xylophone air underneath the title track. It was a hard act to follow, even for a Mark Knopfler; and his virtually only choice was to take his music into other, and more diverse directions ("Brothers in Arms"). Listening to the remastered CD version of "Love Over Gold," you almost forget that unlike its mega-selling successor this recording was not "made for CD;" which in itself speaks volumes to the quality of the sound engineering and production and, more importantly, to the indeed "meticulous attention" given to every single instrumental and human voice of every single track on the album. In all of its 41+ minutes, and although it does not reflect as wide a range of musical styles as Knopfler’s later work, "Love Over Gold" is one of the most complex pieces of recording he ever produced. It may have taken the release of "Brothers in Arms" to propel Dire Straits to worldwide fame forever. But it is impossible to listen to "Love Over Gold" and not recognize the unique talent of a man who, having found an initial foothold in the musical scene through the success of his band's first three albums, here made it clear once and for all just how much more the world had yet to expect from him.Read more ›