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Rock - Released March 9, 2015 | Virgin EMI

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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 January 1, 2002 | 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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Cal

Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | Virgin 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 January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released September 15, 2000 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released November 15, 2005 | Warner Records

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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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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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Virgin EMI

Unlike Mark Knopfler's first three soundtracks, his music for Last Exit to Brooklyn did not sound like outtakes from Dire Straits sessions, but instead consisted of fully orchestrated scoring, even if the credit "music performed by Guy Fletcher" suggested that most of the string-like sound was being made by a synthesizer. Nevertheless, this was Knopfler's most ambitious and accomplished soundtrack. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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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, 2012 | 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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Rock - Released June 5, 2014 | Housemaster Records

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Rock - Released April 1, 2016 | Housemaster Records

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Pop - Released September 15, 2000 | Warner Records

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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Pop - Released September 14, 2018 | D.I.Y.B. Productions

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | EMI

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World - Released December 13, 2019 | Duplessy - Absilone

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Rock - Released March 9, 2015 | Virgin EMI

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Rock - Released February 25, 2013 | Housemaster Records