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.
on 7 November 2003
"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.
Containing just five numbers, Dire Straits' fourth album release from September 1982 remains one of their most highly regarded and enduring. The compositions are often complex, the playing exemplary and the overall mood more `serious' than on their other work to date. David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine wrote of LOG:
"Love Over Gold is not just the title of Dire Straits' fourth album, it is a statement of purpose. In almost suicidal defiance of commercial good sense, singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Knopfler has chosen to follow his muse, fashioning a collection of radically expanded epics and evocative tone poems that demand the listener's undivided attention..."
Lyrically we are in Dylan-esque story-telling territory here, with a streak of irony and semi-detachment from the material. The >14 minute opener `Telegraph Road' tells the story of how small-town America and, by extension, the nation was built:
"Then came the churches then came the schools
Then came the lawyers then came the rules
Then came the trains and the trucks with their loads
And the dirty old track was the telegraph road..."
The souring of the American dream as economic and industrial decline sets in is poetically described, while the human spirit remains strong.
`Private investigations' is another perennial favourite with fans, a downbeat but powerful slow number full of menace and dark humour as a PI recounts a professional life spent looking through people's dirty little secrets.
Not as commercially successful as its record-breaking follow-up `Brothers in Arms', LOG is nevertheless overall a more satisfying experience for the listener and a strong contender for DS' career-best album release. The oddly memorable title was reportedly taken from some graffiti found sprayed on a wall near Knopfler's apartment in London: "Give me love over gold any day".
For me, this album is essential for any Dire Straits fan, or for any fan of good guitar playing. For that matter, I think it should have a place in the CD collection of any discerning rock music fan. Many DS fans rightly consider it the band's finest album. The star attraction here is Telegraph Road, a 14 minute masterpiece with emotive lyrics and fantastic playing that still sounds as epic and emotional today as it did back when it was released. The album is worth the price for that sublime cut alone. Private Investigations and Love Over Gold are powerful tracks, masterfully played. I can't quite give it 5 stars as I just can't, no matter how hard I try, get into "Industrial Disease", even though I symapthise with the theme of the lyrics - it just seems, to me, totally over-shadowed by the other compositions, which seem far better. Listening to this CD still gets the hairs on the back of my neck and still makes me jealous of Mr Knopfler's talent as a finger-style guitar player. I used to use this as a test vinyl for hi-fi equipment because the original vinyl was such a wonderful quality recording. This CD doesn't disappoint the sonic stakes either - if they have re-mastered it (some dispute this) they seem to have done it with some thought, rather than just brickwalled it to make it sound as loud as possible - the dynamics still seem present in the recording, so well done Vertigo.
Lest it be forgot, Mark Knopfler was one of the finest writers of his generation. Leaping to public attention with Sultans of Swing, dipping through Communique, starting the upward journey with the excellent Making Movies, he hit heights that few could aspire to, let alone achieve with this masterpiece.
How does one judge the personal importance of an album? It may be whether it sends shivers down your spine; whether it evokes a time on your life; whether it picks you up from a dark time or a bad mood; it may be for the number of times you can listen to it and make you feel sated. For me, this is the mark of a fine album. No other album comes remotely close for me in the latter category.
If you don't know Dire Straits, you've probably lived on the moon, for their music can still be heard on the airwaves and cover bands the world over play the music. However, as Private Investigtions is the only single from this album, there may be people who know of Dire Straits, but don't know these songs.
The first listening of this album will live with me forever: sat in a teenage bedroom, resting the needle on the groove, turning the quiet beginning of Telegraph Road right up and sitting back to be beguiled. By the end of the track, my blood was pumping, shivers sent down my spine and finding that for a long time I'd forgotten to breathe.
Telegraph Road is not just a song, but an experience. A rolling epic of a song that highlights Knopflers superlative guitar playing. It's fourteen minutes of evocative lyrics, melody and guitar that starts with a wimper and ends with an almighty bang of a guitar solo.
This is the album that made Dire Straits. This was the album that brought them to public attention and caused the disappointing Brothers in Arms to be such a huge seller. This is the album that every student in the world owned.
Twenty years on, the album still sounds superbly produced and the songs still fresh. The album was used in hi-fi shops as a test of the quality of the system by playing Private Investigations and picking out all the effects that were supposedly brought to life by CD. Strangley this album was pre CD and its beautiful rich warmth can be brought out by playing it on vinyl. To many though, this wil be the first album that brought out the alleged beauty of digital audio. To me it's probably the finest album that was ever recorded.
on 29 August 2003
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.
on 16 January 2011
If I play a Dire Straits Album it is either Love over gold or on every street. This is the one just before Brother in arms. i bought it on CD the first time, but re bought it when remastered. Is Super-bit-mapping any good. Well in a word yes, the diference in quality is amazing. telegraph Road is a 14 min tour-de- force, a great story to a great gutiar, drumming piano playing tack. You will not be dissapointed this is where the masters make the other bow down. At this price it is a must. pefect materpiece
on 8 February 2014
For me, this is Dire Straits at their towering best. There are just five songs but every one earns its place. Opener 'Telegraph Road' is mournful, reflective and thought-provoking before swelling into one of Knopfler's most fabulous guitar solos. 'Private Investigations' defines Knopfler mood-writing and features probably his most beautiful and acoustic guitar playing in certainly the highest quality recording of theirs. 'Industrial Disease' gives you the fun of plain good rock'n'roll coupled sharp and comical lyrics, the dual guitars licks in stereo making it one to whack up loud. 'Love Over Gold' is a nice slow-down before the more biting 'It Never Rains' with another excellent mood solo. Every member of the band sounds at the top of their game and the writing would probably never be as...Straits-ish...as this again. I wish the band had evolved further in this direction but, then again, less is very often more. Treat yourself and soak it up for an hour, you'll be glad you did.
on 31 January 2006
There are so many things to say about this album. First of all, it's the best showcase of the saying less is more. With only five songs and a running time of a mere 41 minutes, this might seem like a sparse offering on first approach. But don't be fooled. There is not one second, not one note, not one word that had not been though over one hundred times, and then one hundred times again, and what is here, is what should be here - no more, and certainly no less.
And then the music ...
Telegraph Road ... where to start? This song is not only music, it's a sensation. It get at you like a hammer, delivering a blow that will stun you. This is probably the best written and best conceived music I have ever heard.
Writing the life story of a man and in the same time the evolution of an entire society and civilization into one song seems like a fools errand, and still Knopfler has achieved it here. It does take 14 minutes, yes, but it is well worth every second. The lyrics of this song are themselves on a higher level, and Knopfler's vocal performance is frightingly good - I believe every word of fear, anger, sorrow and despair that he sings about. "I've seen every red light, on memory lane, I've seen desperation, explode into flames, and I don't wanna see it again!" he sings, and I can feel it all with him. That's incredible in itself. Besides that, the music is some of the most intreguing and complicated written within the last 30 or 40 years, full scale rock symphonies like produced by bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd and Queen in the seventies. And Dire Straits are up there with them on this one. Soaring like an eagle into one roaring solo after another, and then diving into an enthralling piano interlude, there is not one spot to put on this.
It goes without saying that the album would be worth the price just for this track.
Private Invastigations, changing to an even darker mood, has an almost minimalistic sound, with the guitar notes hanging omniously over a very threatening silence only shattered by the hollow drum beats. This song is far from mainstream, but was still a major hit (albeit in a shorter edited version), the full album version is even better than the single edit and runs for over 7 minutes.
Industrial Disease is a fine song imo. It's lighter and shorter than the other tracks on the album, but it's very catchy, would have been an obvious single, and the lyrics are fine - with a strong political message, that justifies the song.
Love Over Gold is a hauntingly beatiful song, about the risks in life by following your heart rather than just doing what other people do - at least that's what I get of it. It's about choosing love over money - or gold, as the title is, and I love the picture of a line dancer used in the lyrics. The album version features a long intrumental solo in the end which is brilliant and makes the song much better than the short live version on the Sultans Of Swings compilation.
It Never Rains ends the album on a lighter note, sort of. This 8 minute piece is another brilliant track, and I love the irony of the lyrics (I hear the seven deadly sins, and the terrible twins, came to call on you" it opens, and later "You had no more volunteers, so you got profiteers for to help you out. With friends like that babe, good friends you had to do without" and of course the chorus "It never rains around here, it just comes pouring down"). The song is about relationships, and specifically people who use other people for the own ends, without thinking about what it might do to them - and how it might all one day come back to them, and the lyrics are really brilliant: "You never gave a damn about who you pick up, and leave lying bleeding on the ground, you screw people over on the way up, because you thought that you were never coming down." Of course, the music is also brilliant, and the extended guitar solo that ends the song is a perfect ending to a perfect album.
With it's incredible high standard (the songs rate at something like 100/100, 96/100, 90/100, 98/100 and 96/100) this album scores a clear 100/100.
on 14 October 2000
The price of this CD would be justified simply because of the opening track. Telegraph Road is an absolutely wonderful, imaginative, inventive, restless, adventurous and unforgettable epic. One of Dire Straits' defining masterpieces, its lyrics match the music, recounting the story of the rise and fall of an industrial town. Yet, there is more great music on here, as you would expect from a Dire Straits CD. Private Investigations is one of the Straits' best known songs, with those classic keys at the end, Love Over Gold is a touching love song and It Never Rains is another one of those wonderfully understated songs by the band. Industrial Disease is the weakest track on here but retains the Dire Straits characteristic of being tuneful and in fact is quite a witty and incisive song. Just take it tongue in cheek and you'll be all right (like you did with Les Boys from Making Movies). This album unusually saw Dire Straits drawn into delivering some overtly political songs, with both Telegraph Road and Industrial Disease providing Mark Knopfler with opportunities to comment on the industrial malaise Britain had found itself in at the time this album was made in the early 'eighties. If you let this put you off, however, I feel sorry for you. You would be missing out on what I regard as being one of the best albums of the 'eighties.