Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
on 21 February 2002
Dire Straits' album 'On the Night' certainly constitutes a neatly polished summary of the band's lengthy career, making it a good introduction to their work, though it is nothing more than this. It is indeed pleasing to hear live versions of classics such as 'Money for Nothing' and the somewhat understated gem 'On Every Street', though by contrast to similar releases, such as 'Alchemy' and even 'Live at the BBC', this album simply fails to make the grade. By the time it was recorded it seems that the band had become somewhat of a commercial machine and although the renditions are lively they lack the upbeat spontaneity and the 'rough around the edges' feel that enhanced their performances in previous years. Accuracy is perhaps a problem here and playing the album leaves a sense that something is missing. To be fair, the live act was somewhat formulaic throughout their history, as listening to any two live albums will tell you, though it is clear that the passion has faded and there is no sign of any track extending to the epic 11-minute long-haul of 'Alchemy's' 'Sultans of Swing', which becomes something in its own right, not simply a version of a great song. In addition to this, although the period ties up with their 'On Every Street' album and thus the heavy influence of their more recent work is understandable, several tracks are missing, such as the anthemic 'Sultans of Swing', which could easily have replaced weaker inclusions such as 'You and Your Friend'. In the album's defence however, it does represent a snap-shot of most of the band's best works performed in a convincing way that is very true to the original studio recordings and is a pleasant route into the music of one of the best recording artists of all time.
For a 'Best Of' I would recommend Sultans of Swing, as the group's work is generally better in studio form than it is with the live version on 'On the Night', and where it sounds somewhat dated today the more appealing live version is chosen instead, e.g. 'Love Over Gold' and 'Your Latest Trick'. If you really want the live experience though, it has to be 'Alchemy', the Straits at their best, with all the greats from their earlier (and less commercial) period. On the other hand, if you do tend more towards the musically weaker 'Brothers in Arms' era 'On the Night' is probably this album that you want. You could just be a Dire Straits nut however and want every album that Mark Knopfler has ever had anything to do with... like... ahem... me!