I dropped the needle on my LP copy of this 1979 second album from the mighty Dire Straits, and I was immediately adrift on a wave of bliss.
Once Upon A Time In The West opens with that bluesy guitar and lifts off into an almost reggae-feel blues that draws you in, holds you tight, and shows you the world. “Some of you mothers oughta lock up your daughters,” indeed! News keeps the tempo laid back and bluesily tells us a tale while that guitar sings beautifully in its own voice. Love the drum breakdown at the end. Where Do You Think You’re Going? opens on an acoustic riff so tasty while the cymbals wash over. By the time the band kicks in in full, you’re already fully invested in this incredible tune, but that extended guitar section holds you entranced… Communiqué brings the country honky tonk intro and my goodness I love that piano line, yet the verses are much more gentle. Interesting juxtaposition of two excellent sounds on this one. We ride out on the sweet honky blues, complete with handclaps…
Lady Writer is pure Dire Straits as you know it, up-tempo and that guitar underneath pinning everything down while the solo guitar overtop is gravy. If my reading of the interwubs is correct, this was the only single from the album (!), and I can see why it is… though I would say the rest are just as great! Angel Of Mercy rocks and rolls us perfectly, another straight up gem, complete with backing vocals on the chorus. There are times in this song I could have sworn it was Stones… Portobello Belle is sweet country bluesy rock about a lady (of course), again making me think of Stones with Keef singing and, coming from me, this is a compliment! Single-Handed Sailor is guitar-slinging awesomeness. It has soul, it has swing, and it’s another single if I ever heard one. And finally, Follow Me Home starts us off on the beach, breaking waves and bongo drums in the background. As the music builds, it becomes a blues groove so sweet, you wanna live right here forever. This was one of my favourite tracks on the record.
You know it. It’s another fully-realized work of art from Dire Straits. And it’s so damn perfect.
BONUS: For another great take on this one, CHECK OUT 80SMETALMAN’S POST!