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Rock - Released September 10, 1991 | EMI

It took Mark Knopfler more than six years to craft a followup to Dire Straits' international chart-topper, Brothers In Arms, but though On Every Street sold in the expected multi-millions worldwide on the back of the band's renown and a year-long tour, it was a disappointment. Knopfler remained a gifted guitar player with tastes in folk ("Iron Hand"), blues ("Fade To Black"), and rockabilly ("The Bug"), among other styles, but much of the album was low-key to the point of being background music. The group had long-since dwindled to original members Knopfler and bassist John Illsley, plus a collection of semi-permanent sidemen who provided support but no real musical chemistry. The closest thing to a successor to "Money For Nothing," the big hit from Brothers In Arms, was the sarcastic rocker "Heavy Fuel." It became an album rock radio favorite (though not a chart single), and fans still filled stadiums to hear "Sultans Of Swing," but On Every Street was not the comeback it should have been. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1978 | EMI

Dire Straits' minimalist interpretation of pub rock had already crystallized by the time they released their eponymous debut. Driven by Mark Knopfler's spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling, the album is a set of bluesy rockers. And while the bar band mentality of pub rock is at the core of Dire Straits -- even the group's breakthrough single, "Sultans of Swing," offered a lament for a neglected pub rock band -- their music is already beyond the simple boogies and shuffles of their forefathers, occasionally dipping into jazz and country. Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album. The album is remarkably accomplished for a debut, and Dire Straits had difficulty surpassing it throughout their career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 1, 1982 | EMI

Despite the fact that Love Over Gold contains only five songs, the powerful effect of these selections makes this Dire Straits' most underrated record. Building on the ambitious arrangements and more sophisticated story-songs that made up the prior Making Movies, Mark Knopfler audaciously composed "Telegraph Road," a near-15-minute cut that traces society's technological evolution. Although this kind of subject matter might sound ostensibly dry, Knopfler's crisp playing and warm raspy voice, combined with Alan Clark's gorgeous keyboard runs, makes for a sweeping experience. Elsewhere, Knopfler uses the satirical romp "Industrial Disease" to turn a lesson on international economics and bureaucratic red tape into an infectious shuffle. Rounding out this unusual pop album are the atmospheric, piano-driven title track, the ominously film noir-flavored "Private Investigations," and "It Never Rains," the story of a hard-luck lover that comes off with an optimistic air thanks to Clark's pulsing organ playing and Knopfler's robust delivery. © TiVo
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Rock - Released June 1, 1979 | EMI

Rushed out less than nine months after the surprise success of Dire Straits' self-titled debut album, the group's sophomore effort, Communiqué, continues in the same vein. Mark Knopfler and co. had established a sound (derived largely from J.J. Cale) of laid-back shuffles and intricate, bluesy guitar playing, and Communiqué provides more examples of it. "Lady Writer" (a lesser singles chart entry on both sides of the Atlantic) nearly duplicated the sound of "Sultans of Swing," even if . Communiqué sold immediately to Dire Straits' established audience, but no more, and it did not fare as well critically as its predecessor or its follow-up. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 16, 2015 | EMI

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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 10, 1983 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released March 26, 1996 | 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 September 14, 2009 | 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 January 1, 2004 | 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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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | EMI

Mark Knopfler's second solo album might as well be called Dire Straits' eighth studio album, though Knopfler abandoned the group name back in 1996, dispensing with hefty sales in the process. There was never much doubt that the fame and lifestyle coincident with platinum sales made him uncomfortable, and discontinuing the Dire Straits billing was a means of walking away from all that. It also allowed him to indulge his love for various musical genres more, and that process continues on Sailing to Philadelphia. True, Knopfler's basic approach remains the same -- as a guitarist, he is still enamored of the minor-key finger-picking style of J.J. Cale, and as a singer/songwriter, he remains enthralled with Bob Dylan. But in one song after another on this album, you get the feeling that he started out playing some familiar song in a specific genre and eventually extrapolated upon it enough to call it an original. Knopfler has grafted his own lyrical concerns to these songs, often playing up the lives of humble people (especially musicians), and putting down powerful people (especially rock stars). There are also story-songs on wide-ranging subjects, but the theme of life on the road and the dichotomy between the rich and famous (what Knopfler is) and the poor and powerless (those he identifies with) predominate. Working with a two-guitars, two-keyboards, bass and drums band (like Dire Straits), Knopfler brings in a variety of sympathetic guests, notably James Taylor, Van Morrison, and Squeeze leaders Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. These guest stars provide pleasant contrast to Knopfler's modest vocal talents, but they never steal the spotlight from the leader. (Well, okay, Morrison does.) His ability to hold his own is some indication that, however self-effacing he may be, he remains a star. [In 2005 Sailing to Philadelphia was reissued with a bonus DVD that featured "behind the scenes" footage" as well as interviews with Knopfler and his band.] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | 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 August 23, 1982 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released August 19, 1991 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | EMI

With the core of Dire Straits augumented by Paul Brady and Liam O'Flynn, Knopfler set out to give this score a somewhat Irish spin, though keeping that light. A quiet, reflective set of cues that eschew false dramatics in favor of supporting the story. Knopfler completists will want the entire album, of course; others might as well settle for the several excerpts on Screenplaying. © Steven McDonald /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 19, 1978 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Jazz - Released July 27, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released July 28, 2021 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released March 23, 1999 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Mark Knopfler's fine soundtrack to the film Metroland nicely evokes the picture's wistful, nostalgic atmosphere. Rounding out the collection are late-'70s classics from Dire Straits ("Sultans of Swing"), Elvis Costello ("Alison") and the Stranglers ("Peaches"), in addition to left-field inclusions like Françoise Hardy's "Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles" and Django Reinhardt's "Blues Clair." © Chuck Donkers /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | EMI

Composer

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.