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Dire Straits - 1982 Love Over Gold

ARTIST: Dire Straits
ALBUM: Love Over Gold
LABEL: Warner Bros (USA), Vertigo (UK)
SERIAL: 9 23728-1
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 2000, Warner Brothers, 9 47772-2


LINEUP: Mark Knopfler - vocals, guitar * John Illsley - bass * Pick Withers - drums * Alan Clark - keyboards * Hal Lindes - guitar

Additional Musicians: Mike Maineri - vibes, marimba * Ed Walsh - synthesizer

TRACK LISTING: 01 Telegraph Road * 02 Private Investigations * 03 Industrial Disease * 04 Love Over Gold * 05 It Never Rains


Prior to 'Love Over Gold' I always thought Dire Straits put out great singles but never recorded a solid, good to the last note album. 'Sultans Of Swing', 'Lady Writer' and 'Skateaway' remain some of my favourite 45's of the era but nothing prepared me for a progressive rock album from a band born of the same booze soaked British pub rock scene that gave birth to Ace, Dr. Feelgood and Elvis Costello.

The Songs
You read right, progressive rock. 'Love Over Gold' is both jazzy and arty, alternating between light and shade atmospherics and a precursor to Mark Knopfler's prolific soundtrack work, beginning with 1983's charming cult film 'Local Hero'. In fact, the movies lead track 'The Way It Always Starts' sung by Gerry Rafferty was written and recorded during the album's sessions as well as a version of 'Private Dancer' which was ultimately given to Tina Turner for her comeback album of the same name. A band of this stature putting out an LP that opened with a fourteen minute plus title track was a ballsy move in 1983, but what a brilliant song 'Telegraph Road' is. New member's Alan Clark and guitarist Hal Linde fill out the Dire Straits sound like never before, but its Clark's keyboard and piano work that gives the track its sweeping grandeur before climaxing several times into not one, but three Knopfler guitar solos. The dark UK hit 'Private Investigations' follows and with its spoken word verse, delicate use of acoustic guitar, classical keyboard melody and marimba; this too is a standout. 'Industrial Disease' was a minor American single although it's still a staple on FM radio and more in keeping with Dire Straits of old. The moody title track and the mid-tempo 'It Never Rains' close out the set on a high note, begging for repeated plays. I love prog related albums that spring from the least likely sources. The Grateful Dead's 'Terrapin Station', Tom Waits 'Swordfishtrombones' as well as Scott Walker's 'Climate Of Hunter' immediately come to mind and this masterpiece certainly stands in their company.

In Summary
Unfortunately the experimentation stopped with the mega-selling 'Brothers In Arms'; a record I never cared for. Spawning no less than eight singles, it's one of the biggest albums of all time but songs like 'Money For Nothing' and 'Walk Of Life' felt contrived when compared to the artful beauty of 'Love Over Gold' which was a pity.

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