Dire Straits - Communique

Throughout his career, Mark Knopfler has been phenomenal. Starting his career with his brother David they formed 'Dire Straits', a classic rock band with blues and jazz influences. Their success was imminent: their debut Dire Straits in 1978 peaked at no. 2 in US and no.5 domestically, producing the epic ''Sultans of Swing''. Sadly, this has become the only point of reference out of that masterful release.

Almost one year later, Dire Straits hit the stores again; this time with the album Communique . People have argued that this is a blatant record trying to imitate its predecessor without offering anything new to the band's sound. Indeed, Communiqué doesn't have such an explosive track as ''Sultans of Swing'' nor is based around fast tempos. What it aims is to portray is a number of characters and their individual stories and it achieves that perfectly.

It is obvious by the end of ''Once Upon a Time in the West'' that the main singer, songwriter and virtuoso guitarist has an ability to combine his expressive finger-tip play with some eloquent lyrics. From that moment and on, a number of characters come and go. Knopfler describes everything with such a detail in order to make the listener visualize the scene and he does it astonishingly good. This becomes evident with the silky tone of ''News'', a dramatic song about a guy constantly gambling with his life. At a point later on and with a rhythmic temper he will sing about the ''Single Handed Sailor'', while through the peaceful ''Portobello Belle'', Belladonna who thinks she's tough will be the main attraction in the blind singer's song.

Without drifting away from the thematic scenery, the duo ''Lady Writer'' and ''Angel of Mercy'' have more energy than the average song in the album. It is through this swiftness that they give a rather different flavor to the whole album, with the former being the regular point of reference. The smooth ''Where do you Think You're Going'' and the exotic ''Follow Me Home'' deviate from the overall picture as they are smooth, simple and probably tell Knopfler's personal stories.

Dire Straits do not want to impress with this album; they have done that already. This is more of an 'establishment in the scene' album that portrays a mature band possessing proficient musicianship skills, and being able to produce impeccable lyrical content. These are the facts that should surround a band of top credibility, and Dire Straits surely qualify for such status.

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