Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mark Knopfler - Golden Heart (1996)


  

Released March 1996

This was Mark Knopfler's first solo album after disbanding Dire Straits, and while here are some Straits-isms present here, there are also several nods towards the Celtic folk influences and historical storytelling that would be present on many of Knopfler's subsequent solo offerings. In that respect it is very much a "bridging" album between the two periods of his career.

TRACK LISTING

1. Darling Pretty
2. Imelda
3. Golden Heart
4. No Can Do
5. Vic And Ray
6. Don't You Get It
7. A Night In Summer Long Ago
8. Cannibals
9. I'm The Fool
10. Je Suis Desole
11. Rudiger
12. Nobody's Got The Gun
13. Done With Bonaparte
14. Are We In Trouble Now

It is a warm and personable album, kicking off with the Northumbrian pipes intro and then the grandoise majesty of the wonderful "Darling Pretty" ( a song I have always related to my wife, so personally it means a lot to me). It has a huge riffy opening and a dramatic, anthemic quality with Knopfler sounding as emotionally committed as he has done in all his career thus far. Some great guitar on it too. "Imelda" sort of recycles the "Money For Nothing" riff in a muscular, blues rock tale of the Filipina Imelda Marcos. This would have sat easily on the last Dire Straits album, to be honest. Some more guitar of the sort that many keep bemoaning he doesn't come up with anymore is on this one. The title track is sumptuously beautiful. The folky, Celtic airs are arriving now. I love Knopfler's solo work for things like this, more than I do Dire Straits, if I'm honest. It is such an evocative, atmospheric number. Love it. There is something vaguely Springsteen-esque (post 1990) about it too, for me.

"No Can Do" is a "Heavy Fuel"-style bluesy rocker with a solid riff and drums over Knopfler's now trademark laconic vocal. It has an almost funky beat at times. "Vic And Ray" is one of those folky, West End type tales of characters possibly from Knopfler's past. Although, as they are rent boys, let's hope he just observed them from afar! It is similar to some of the material on Dire Straits' debut album. More solid guitar parts near the end. "Don't You Get It" is an upbeat, lively Dire Straits-ish rocker. "A Night In Summer Long Ago" has the Northumbrian (or maybe Uillean?) pipes back for a song of true, romantic beauty. Forget "Money For Nothing". This is the soul of Mark Knopfler for me.

"Cannibals" is a Cajun-style rocker in a vaguely "Walk Of Life" style. It is ok, but not my favourite on the album. "I'm The Fool" is a laid-back, country-ish acoustic ballad with some lovely steel guitar in the background. Again, it sounds like Springsteen's slower 1992 era material in places. "Je Suis Desole" is a folky, lively number, another of my favourites. "Rudiger" is an interesting song about an obsessed autograph hunter. Once again, is is low-key, quiet and folk-influenced. It has a sort of Parisian feel to it.

"Done With Bonaparte" is a fascinating "history" song about the Napoleonic Wars. "Nobody's Got The Gun" is very reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's "Man At The Top" in parts. "Are We In Trouble Now" is a somnolent, country ballad to end this most pleasurable album on. It is always enjoyable to dig this album out.

B+

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