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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Virgin EMI

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Since officially embarking on a solo career in 1995, former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler has been quietly and consistently amassing an unassuming horn of plenty, maintaining his prior outfit's penchant for fusing meticulously crafted English blues-rock with sardonic, radio-ready AOR pop, while introducing elements of traditional folk and country with the effortless gait of an artist who has spent his years as both a student and a professor. On Privateering, his seventh solo outing, Knopfler has crafted his most ambitious and pugnacious collection of songs to date, going all in on a two-disc set that pits all of the aforementioned influences against each other without ever succumbing to the convenience of their architectures. Upon first spin, Privateering feels a little like a garage sale, offering up long cold plates of once warm, late-night porch jams that feel like pre-studio session warm-ups, but the album's stately yet schizophrenic nature, which pits lo-fi, studious, yet ultimately forgettable exercises in rote American blues like "Hot or What" and "Gator Blood" with amiable, highway-ready rockers ("Corned Beef City") and incredibly affecting, spooky folk-pop ballads like "Redbud Tree," "Kingdom of Gold," and the magnificent "Dream of the Drowned Submariner," all three of which owe a couple of polite high fives to Dire Straits songs like "The Man's Too Strong" and "Brothers in Arms," reveals an artist in complete control of his arsenal. Could the album use some trimming? Sure, but Knopfler is that rare gunslinger who can make even the wildest shot look like it was completely intentional, and his steady voice, mercurial lyrics, and instantly recognizable guitar tone, that latter of which falls somewhere between the rich, lucid beauty of David Gilmour and the Pan-like spell-casting of Richard Thompson, provide just the right amount of ballast to keep a ship as big as Privateering buoyant. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | Virgin EMI

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler's intricate, introspective finger-picked guitar stylings make a perfect musical complement to the wistful tone of Bill Forsyth's comedy film, Local Hero. This album was billed as a Knopfler solo album rather than an original soundtrack album, with the notation "music ... for the film." Knopfler brings along Dire Straits associates Alan Clark (keyboards) and John Illsley (bass), plus session aces like saxophonist Mike Brecker, vibes player Mike Mainieri, and drummers Steve Jordan and Terry Williams. The low-key music picks up traces of Scottish music, but most of it just sounds like Dire Straits doing instrumentals, especially the recurring theme, one of Knopfler's more memorable melodies. Gerry Rafferty (remember him from "Baker Street"?) sings the one vocal selection, "That's the Way It Always Starts." © TiVo
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Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | British Grove Records

When he’s not working on a film score or paying a musical visit to one of his numerous friends, Mark Knopfler focuses on producing high quality solo albums. Down The Road Wherever is no exception, it’s arguably up there with Golden Heart and Get Lucky at the top of the heap. For this ninth album, available in different editions (something which has become a habit for him), he demonstrates more than ever the sheer scope of styles he can play with outstanding subtlety and elegance. He’s like a magician refusing to show off with shiny new tricks, but rather favouring his older acts with a few delicate updates, of which he seems to have many up his sleeve!More relaxed and confident than ever, particularly in his perfect guitar performances, Knopfler is second to none when it comes to harmoniously juxtaposing jazzy (When You Leave, Every Heart In The Room), bluesy (Just A Boy Away From Home), funky (Back On The Dance Floor, Nobody Does That), folk (Nobody's Child, Matchstick Man) and trad (Drover's Road, One Song At A Time) atmospheres, at times incorporating inspired Latin touches – samba, bossa nova, or cha cha chá − (Floating Away, Slow Learner, Heavy Up, Rear View Mirror) or electro layers (Good On You Son)… Even though the album starts off like Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold with the perky Trapper Man, and then My Bacon Roll which would fit right into Brothers In Arms, he has obviously come a long way, setting himself apart from a band whose memory is slowly fading. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin EMI

This 22-cut double-disc set finally gets at it. Issuing a single disc of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler would be a silly thing at best and a hopelessly frustrating one at worst. When the band burst on the scene with "Sultans of Swing," there was a lot happening in rock music, but most of it was under the radar and remains forgotten except in the historic annals of music fanatics. Knopfler and his band were full of rock & roll romance and proved it through their first four recordings time and again. They couldn't help but become superstars and mainstays of MTV. But there is another story told on this best-of, which begins with "Telegraph Road." The story-songs Knopfler wrote were always the best anyway, and this set is full of them, from "Sultans" to "Romeo & Juliet," "Skateaway," "So Far Away," "Walk of Life," and (of course) "Brothers in Arms," which made for the most dramatic marriage of the little screen and rock music when it was featured in the closing sequence of an episode of Miami Vice. But there are many other stops along the way, like "Private Investigations," "Sailing to Philadelphia," "Going Home" (from Local Hero), and "The Long Road" (from Cal). But "On Every Street," "Calling Elvis," and "What It Is" are here, too, making for a wonderfully rounded if argumentative best-of collection that goes the distance and explains sonically what all the fuss was about in the first place. There's the guitar sound that's as much Tony Joe White as it is J.J. Cale and Billy Gibbons, and the elegance of James Burton and Chet Atkins. There is soul, pathos, drama, and a bittersweet memory that Van Morrison first evoked on Astral Weeks and Saint Dominic's Preview. There is a new cut here as well, a duet with Emmylou Harris called "All the Roadrunning," taken from an upcoming collaborative album, and it's nice -- beautiful, in fact -- and keeps the line of continuity and excellence in perspective. This is not only a fine collection for fans because of its wonderful sequencing, but the best introduction to the man and the band that one could ask for. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | Virgin EMI

Mark Knopfler's debut non-soundtrack solo album, Golden Heart, was, in effect, the follow-up to the last Dire Straits studio album, On Every Street (1991). But it was also a compendium of the various musical endeavors in which Knopfler had engaged since emerging as a major figure in 1978. "Imelda" was cast in the mold of "Money for Nothing," with its trademark electric guitar riff and sardonic lyrics about Imelda Marcos, and other songs resembled Dire Straits songs, notably "Cannibals," which recalled "Walk of Life." But "A Night in Summer Long Ago" was presented in a Scots/Irish traditional folk style, complete with a lyric about a knight and a queen and would have fit nicely on Knopfler's soundtrack for The Princess Bride, and "Are We in Trouble Now" was a country ballad featuring pedal steel guitar and the piano playing of Nashville session ace Hargus "Pig" Robbins that would have been appropriate for Knopfler's duo album with Chet Atkins. For all that, there was little on the album that was new or striking, and Knopfler seemed to fall back on familiar guitar techniques while intoning often obscure lyrics. You get the feeling that there was a story behind each song, but except in the cases of "Rudiger," a character study of an autograph hunter, and "Done with Bonaparte," the lament of a 19th century French soldier on the retreat from Moscow, you might have to read Knopfler's interviews to find out what the songs were actually about. Knopfler hadn't used the opportunity of a solo album to challenge himself, and at the same time he had lost the group identity (however illusory) provided by the Dire Straits name. The result was listenable but secondhand. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 9, 2015 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Virgin EMI

Shangri-La, Mark Knopfler's fourth solo release and his first since breaking his collarbone, shoulder, and seven ribs in a motorcycle crash in March 2003, finds the eternally laid-back Dire Straits frontman in familiar territory. Instead of constructing a song cycle about his brush with mortality -- the wry "Don't Crash the Ambulance" aside -- he uses his warm baritone and effortless guitar work to ruminate on everything from the plight of the modern fisherman -- the beautiful and rustic "Trawlerman's Song" -- to the entrepreneurial skills of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc ("Boom, Like That"). Knopfler has more or less abandoned the British folk and Celtic-influenced pop that began to surface on his previous two recordings, opting instead for a full-blown yet quiet and considerate collection of country-folk ballads and bluesy, midtempo dirges that revel in their uncharacteristic sparseness -- one of the better examples of the latter is the gutsy, backwoods boxing tale "Song for Sonny Liston." Knopfler spent seven months away from the guitar in physiotherapy, but his melancholic slow-burn tone is as peat-smoked as ever, and his penchant for wrapping Americana-gothic folk around subjects that are uniquely English -- colliers, cockneys, the one-armed bandit man who meets his maker in the atmospheric opener, "5:15 A.M." -- is evident throughout. Dynamically, Shangri-La loses steam about three-quarters of the way through -- the cringe-inducing "Whoop De Doo" and the sweet but dull "All That Matters" bring things to a sleepy halt -- but Knopfler fans and lovers of Chet Atkins, Gordon Lightfoot, and J.J. Cale, as well as late-night poker players and early risers with an acerbic streak, will find much to love here. [A version of Shangri-La containing a bonus DVD/DVA is also available.] © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released April 15, 2015 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released March 9, 2015 | Virgin EMI

Scaled smaller than 2012's double-album Privateering, Tracker also feels suitably subtle, easing its way into being instead of announcing itself with a thunder. Such understatement is typical of Mark Knopfler, particularly in the third act of his career. When he left Dire Straits behind, he also left behind any semblance of playing for the cheap seats in an arena, but Tracker feels quieter than his new millennial norm. Some of this is due to the undercurrent of reflection tugging at the record's momentum. Knopfler isn't pining for the past but he is looking back, sometimes wistfully, sometimes with a resigned smile, and he appropriately draws upon sounds that he's long loved. Usually, this means some variation of pub rock -- the languid ballad "River Towns," the lazy shuffle "Skydiver," the two-chord groove of "Broken Bones" -- but this is merely the foundation from which Knopfler threads in a fair amount of olde British folk and other roots digressions. This delicate melancholy complements echoes of older Knopfler songs -- significant stretches of the record are reminiscent of the moodier aspects of Brothers in Arms, while "Beryl" has just a bit of the "Sultans of Swing" bounce -- and this skillful interweaving of Knopfler's personal past helps give Tracker a nicely gentle resonance. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Virgin EMI

With his second post-millennium album in just two years, Mark Knopfler has already equaled his meager (non-soundtrack) output for the '90s. And while he isn't reinventing himself, The Ragpicker's Dream is a pleasant, classy, often inspired effort whose unassuming charms are best appreciated after repeated listenings. The memorable riffage that fueled Dire Straits' most radio-friendly material has been discarded for a more pastoral approach, making this a perfect album for a rainy Sunday morning. Like his Notting Hillbillies side project, it isn't entirely unplugged, yet there is an emphasis on acoustic accompaniment to its predominantly ballad slant. Instead of leaving space for traditional soloing, Knopfler weaves his snake-like guitar between the words. This infuses a tense, edgy quality in even the most bucolic tracks, resulting in the crackling but still low-boil atmospherics of "Hill Farmer's Blues" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland." "Marbletown" is an unaccompanied folk/blues that sounds as if Knopfler was born and raised in the Mississippi backwoods. He taps into the patented insistent lazy, shuffling groove on the spooky "You Don't Know You're Born." It's the most Straits-like track here featuring an extended, winding, yet subtle solo. "Coyote," a mid-tempo sizzler -- lyrically based on the Road Runner cartoons -- is propelled by a walking bass figure and Knopfler's homey, lived-in, talk-sung vocals. Again, the guitar pyrotechnics are interspersed throughout the verses with overdubbed sounds employed to provide ambiance and mood. The authentic honky tonk swing of "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" could have come off a Wayne Hancock album, and the "King of the Road" melody from "Quality Shoe" is a tribute to Roger Miller. As an homage to the American roots music he's always admired and a desire to retreat further from the stadium rock of his Straits days, The Ragpicker's Dream is a restrained success, at least on its own terms. It may not please some of Knopfler's old "Money for Nothing" fans, but at this stage, he's obviously not trying to. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Virgin EMI

With the release of Get Lucky, Mark Knopfler has made as many solo studio albums as he made group studio albums with Dire Straits, which may be a signal that it's time to stop comparing his two careers and simply accept them as separate entities. Of course, since Knopfler was the lead singer, chief instrumentalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits, there are obvious similarities, even if he has taken a deliberately different path as a solo artist. Basically, he's a lot quieter. "Border Reiver," the first song here, begins with a pennywhistle and a piano, then strings join in. Soon enough, Knopfler's distinctive conversational baritone begins calmly intoning lyrics, and eventually there are examples of his melodic fingerpicked guitar style on both acoustic and electric. He even works up to a smoldering swamp rock shuffle, à la J.J. Cale, on "Cleaning My Gun." But that's as close as he comes to really rocking out. More typical is "Hard Shoulder," a ballad that employs a twangy guitar sound and comes across as a number that Glen Campbell could have had a hit with back in his late-'60s "Wichita Lineman" heyday. The tunes support Knopfler's story-songs and musical character studies, as he describes or embodies truck drivers ("Border Reiver"), itinerant workers ("Get Lucky"), guitar makers ("Monteleone"), and sailors ("So Far from the Clyde"), among others, painting a portrait of pastoral and blue-collar life in the British Isles some time in the past. This Glasgow-born guitarist comes by the Celtic influence honestly, of course, but he seems to be trying to create his own pseudo-traditional repertoire of what often sound like old folk songs. That's certainly one of the things he was trying to do in Dire Straits. "Remembrance Day" here is similar in tone to Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms," but then so is much of Knopfler's solo work; old fans still may lament that there isn't much that sounds like "Sultans of Swing" or "Money for Nothing." © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 24, 2006 | Virgin EMI

This lush and earthy collaboration between Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris may sound like it rose from an amiable weeklong studio session, but the 12 tracks that make up All the Roadrunning were actually recorded over the span of seven years. The boot-stomping "Red Staggerwing" and the gentle "Donkey Town," both of which were bumped from Knopfler's Sailing to Philadelphia record, give the ex-Dire Straits leader a chance to flex his country muscle, while the wistful title track spotlights the lovely Harris, whose playful demeanor and guarded confidence helps keep Knopfler in check during his sometimes excessive soloing. The two couldn't be more at odds vocally, but Knopfler's laconic drawl is like an easy chair for Harris' fluid pipes, and standout tracks like the 9/11-inspired "This Is Goodbye," the wistful "Beachcombing," and the infectious single "This Is Us" come off as effortless statements of vitality from both camps. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Virgin EMI

Given that Kill to Get Crimson follows Mark Knopfler's yearlong collaboration with Emmylou Harris -- inaugurated by the album All the Roadrunning and followed by a tour, subsequently documented on the live set Real Live Roadrunning -- it might be reasonable to presume that it bears a slightly heavier folk influence, as if Emmylou had rubbed off on the guitarist. And that's true to a certain extent: "Heart Full of Holes" has an old-timey carnivalesque lilt to its middle section and "Secondary Waltz" is simple, low-key two-step driven by accordions, while "The Fish and the Bird" is a spare allegory that recalls old folk tunes, as does the stately grace of "Madame Geneva's." Also, "Let It All Go" (the song that bears the lyric that lends the album the title) is a minor key dirge that could be seen as a winding folk tune, but it hearkens back to the evocative mood pieces that often up ate up large sections of the second side of a Dire Straits album, and that's hardly the only time either Knopfler's old band or his solo works are brought to mind here. Despite the few folk trappings, most of Kill to Get Crimson resembles nothing so much as another tastefully low-key album from Knopfler, one that resides comfortably in his mellow Americana niche, where country, blues, and rock gently blend into a sound that resembles no particular style but evokes plenty of past sounds. Knopfler rides this soft groove as easily as he ever has, maybe even a little easier than usual, but the big difference here is although mood is key -- as it always is on a Knopfler solo album -- the emphasis is not on guitar; it's on the song. Thing is, the mood tends to trump the sound unless the album is heard closely, which is something Knopfler's dedicated cult will surely do, but less dedicated listeners can't be blamed if they enjoy this merely as background music if they choose to enjoy this at all. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 14, 2006 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Recorded at the Gibson Amphitheatre in California on June 28, 2006, Real Live Roadrunning features live renditions of all of the cuts from Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris' collaboration of the same name, as well as solo cuts from each and Dire Straits classics like "So Far Away" and "Romeo & Juliet." The musicianship is as flawless as expected, but there's not a whole lot to separate the tunes here from their studio sisters. The accompanying DVD is a much better example of the pair's quiet dynamic, allowing both the duo and its talented band a broader spectrum on which to emit their wry tales of love, loss, and life. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Virgin EMI

Since officially embarking on a solo career in 1995, former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler has been quietly and consistently amassing an unassuming horn of plenty, maintaining his prior outfit's penchant for fusing meticulously crafted English blues-rock with sardonic, radio-ready AOR pop, while introducing elements of traditional folk and country with the effortless gait of an artist who has spent his years as both a student and a professor. On Privateering, his seventh solo outing, Knopfler has crafted his most ambitious and pugnacious collection of songs to date, going all in on a two-disc set that pits all of the aforementioned influences against each other without ever succumbing to the convenience of their architectures. Upon first spin, Privateering feels a little like a garage sale, offering up long cold plates of once warm, late-night porch jams that feel like pre-studio session warm-ups, but the album's stately yet schizophrenic nature, which pits lo-fi, studious, yet ultimately forgettable exercises in rote American blues like "Hot or What" and "Gator Blood" with amiable, highway-ready rockers ("Corned Beef City") and incredibly affecting, spooky folk-pop ballads like "Redbud Tree," "Kingdom of Gold," and the magnificent "Dream of the Drowned Submariner," all three of which owe a couple of polite high fives to Dire Straits songs like "The Man's Too Strong" and "Brothers in Arms," reveals an artist in complete control of his arsenal. Could the album use some trimming? Sure, but Knopfler is that rare gunslinger who can make even the wildest shot look like it was completely intentional, and his steady voice, mercurial lyrics, and instantly recognizable guitar tone, that latter of which falls somewhere between the rich, lucid beauty of David Gilmour and the Pan-like spell-casting of Richard Thompson, provide just the right amount of ballast to keep a ship as big as Privateering buoyant. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Country - Released October 9, 1990 | Columbia Nashville

Working with Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler had a rejuvinating influence on Chet Atkins. Knopfler has Atkins moving toward his country roots, but both guitarists still play with a tasteful, jazzy sensibility -- however, Atkins has abandoned the overt jazz fusion pretensions that sank most of his '80s records. With its direct, understated approach, Neck and Neck is the most focused and arguably the most rewarding record Atkins has released. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
CD£12.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin EMI

This 22-cut double-disc set finally gets at it. Issuing a single disc of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler would be a silly thing at best and a hopelessly frustrating one at worst. When the band burst on the scene with "Sultans of Swing," there was a lot happening in rock music, but most of it was under the radar and remains forgotten except in the historic annals of music fanatics. Knopfler and his band were full of rock & roll romance and proved it through their first four recordings time and again. They couldn't help but become superstars and mainstays of MTV. But there is another story told on this best-of, which begins with "Telegraph Road." The story-songs Knopfler wrote were always the best anyway, and this set is full of them, from "Sultans" to "Romeo & Juliet," "Skateaway," "So Far Away," "Walk of Life," and (of course) "Brothers in Arms," which made for the most dramatic marriage of the little screen and rock music when it was featured in the closing sequence of an episode of Miami Vice. But there are many other stops along the way, like "Private Investigations," "Sailing to Philadelphia," "Going Home" (from Local Hero), and "The Long Road" (from Cal). But "On Every Street," "Calling Elvis," and "What It Is" are here, too, making for a wonderfully rounded if argumentative best-of collection that goes the distance and explains sonically what all the fuss was about in the first place. There's the guitar sound that's as much Tony Joe White as it is J.J. Cale and Billy Gibbons, and the elegance of James Burton and Chet Atkins. There is soul, pathos, drama, and a bittersweet memory that Van Morrison first evoked on Astral Weeks and Saint Dominic's Preview. There is a new cut here as well, a duet with Emmylou Harris called "All the Roadrunning," taken from an upcoming collaborative album, and it's nice -- beautiful, in fact -- and keeps the line of continuity and excellence in perspective. This is not only a fine collection for fans because of its wonderful sequencing, but the best introduction to the man and the band that one could ask for. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
CD£10.49

Country - Released September 28, 1990 | Columbia

Working with Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler had a rejuvinating influence on Chet Atkins. Knopfler has Atkins moving toward his country roots, but both guitarists still play with a tasteful, jazzy sensibility -- however, Atkins has abandoned the overt jazz fusion pretensions that sank most of his '80s records. With its direct, understated approach, Neck and Neck is the most focused and arguably the most rewarding record Atkins has released. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Virgin EMI

This album presents excerpts from four movie scores written and performed by Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler: Cal, Last Exit to Brooklyn, The Princess Bride, and Local Hero. The music is reminiscent of the calmer parts of Dire Straits songs: melodic, lyrical, and touching. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1998 | Virgin EMI

Mark Knopfler wrote and performed the soundtrack to Barry Levinson's political satire Wag the Dog, and it is one of his best scores, alternately graceful and rootsy. Seven of the eight tracks are instrumental, with the last being reserved for the agreeably humorous single "Wag the Dog." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Mark Knopfler in the magazine
  • Magic Mark
    Magic Mark When he’s not working on a film score or paying a musical visit to one of his numerous friends, Mark Knopfler focuses on producing high quality solo albums.