Mark Knopfler


Band members                             Related acts

- Mark Knopfler -- vocals, guitar, mandolin

 

  supporting musicians: (1983)

- Mike Brecker -- sax

- Alan Clark -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Eddie Gomez -- bass

- John Illsely -- bass

- Neil Jason -- bass

- Steve Jordan -- drums

- Tony Levin -- bass

- Hal Lindes -- rhythm guitar

- Mike Mainierei -- vibes

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP 2012) -- vocals

- Terry Williams -- drums

 

  supporting musicians: (1984)

- Mickey Feat -- bass

- Guy Fletcher -- keyboards

- Chris White -- sax

- Terry Williams -- drums

 

  supporting musicians (1984)

- Paul Brady -- tin whistle

- Guy Fletcher -- keyboards

- John Illsley -- bass

- Liam O'Flynn -- uilleann pips

- Terry Williams -- drums, percussion

 

 

 

 

- Brewer's Droop

- Dire Straits

- The Nottingham Hillbillies

- Voices That Care

 

 

 


 

Genre:: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Local Hero

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: 23827-1
Year:
 1983

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments:--

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1254

Price: $20.00

 

Normally I wouldn't want anything to do with a film soundtrack.  They tend to be either a mix of a hit surrounded by throwaway fluff, or insipid and frequently ponderous incidental music that your five year old could have recorded on that old Casio keyboard you have stuffed in the closet.

 

Knopfler fans already know this, but on the heels of three multi-platinum albums, in 1982 Knopfler decided to try something different.  His management team contacted various film studios indicating Knopfler was interested in writing some film music.   Produced David Putnam contacted Knopfler about the Local Hero project and the two decided on a collaboration.  Produced and largely co-written by Knopfler (Dire Straits keyboardist Alan Clark served as his writing partner on much of the album), 1983's "Local Hero" is simply one of the most effective and effecting film soundtracks ever written.  If you've ever wondered about life in a small, isolated Scottish town ...  well, if you had, this would be a great accompanying sounds cape for those daydreams.

 

So what makes Mark Knopfler's "Local Hero" so different?  Well in some ways it isn't.  A word of warning - while parts of this may remind you of a Dire Straits jam session (Knopfler's guitar style is simply instantly recognizable), unless you're a hardcore Knopfler fanatic, of you happen to love this little known cult film, this collection probably isn't going to scratch your itch.  The mostly instrumental collection is kind of episodic, complete with sound effects and a myriad of styles that probably won't make much sense, or bring much enjoyment to people who haven't seen the film.  That said, I'm a big Knopfler fan (on the heels of his successes with Dire Straits, this was his first solo effort), and I love the small Bill Forsyth film it was written for.  One of my personal desert island picks, Local Hero is all but forgotten among movie viewers, but the flick about the effect a small Scottish village (Furness) has on an American oil executive interested in getting local drilling rights is simply charming (even if it doesn't have a single murder, or car chase in the plot and has a truly sad and thought provoking ending). 

 

"Local Hero" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Rocks and the Water (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark) - 3:30    rating: *** stars

Opening up with the ominous instrumental 'The Rocks and the Water', Clark's repetitive synthesizer beeps (meant to evoke a lighthouse and seagulls), you could be forgiven for wondering if you'd accidentally put on one of those ambient Brian Eno albums.   As for the song, its actually oddly hypnotic and calming ...

2.) Wild Theme (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark) - 3:38    rating: **** stars

The track folks are mostly likely to recognize, 'Wild Theme' also stands as one of the prettiest melodies Knopfler ever wrote (along with Clark).  There isn't a great deal to this one - just some beautiful Knopfler acoustic guitar, with understated touches of piano and synthesizers from Clark.  Mournful, yet beautiful.   

3.) Freeway Flyer (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark - Hal Lindes - John Illsley - Terry Williams) - 1:47      rating: *** stars

The bouncy countrified 'Freeway Flyer' sounded like a Dire Straits outtake (in fact Dire Straits cohorts Clark, John Illsley and Terry Williams helped write the track).   Knopfler's brief fuzz guitar solo provides the highlights.    

4.) Boomtown (instrumental)   (Alan Clark - Mike Brecker - Mike Mainieri - Neil Jason - Steve Jordan) - 4:06     rating: *** stars

And from country hoedown, 'Boomtown' sees the album abruptly lurch to Steely Dan-styled L.A. cocktail jazz  Showcasing Mike Brecker's sax and Mike Mainieri's vibes, the track is smooth and relaxing, if hardly awe-inspiring ...  A nice slice of Sunday morning 'wake up' music.   

5.) The Way It Always Starts   (Gerry Rafferty - Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark - Neil Jason - Steve Jordan) -  4:00   rating: **** stars

The lone vocal performance, 'The Way It Always Starts' featured the late Gerry Ryan on a pretty, slightly Latin-tinged ballad.  Rafferty had such a unique voice.  Interesting that this one was tapped as the single since it was the album's most blatantly commercial number. 

6.) The Rocks and the Thunder (instrumental) (Alan Clark) - 0:45 rating: ** stars

'The Rocks and the Thunder' was another brief dollop of Clark atmospheric synthesizers.  Pretty, but simply too short to make much of an impression. 

7.) The Ceilidh and the Northern Lights (instrumental)   (Alan Clark) - 3:57   rating: *** stars

'The Ceilidh and the Northern Lights' basically took the 'Wild Theme' and arranged it for a Celtic setting complete with tin whistles and what sounded like synthesized bagpipes.  The results were pretty enough  (the waves sound great on a good pair of headphones), but 'Wild Theme' was better.   

(side 2)
1.) The Mist Covered Mountains (instrumental)    (Alan Clark - Eddie Gomez) -     rating: *** stars

While credited as an Alan Clark - Eddie Gomez composition, 'The Mist Covered Mountains' sure sounded like some traditional Scottish folk sound.  Guess that's what they were aiming for and they succeeded.  Yeah, Clark's synthesizers sound a bit dated on this one, but the album's now thirty plus years old.   

2.) The Cilideh: Louis' Favorite:  Billy's Tune (instrumental)   - The Acetones    rating: *** stars

So if you can't get down to your local Irish bar (yeah, I know this is set in Scotland), slap 'The Cilideh: Louis' Favorite' on and have a beer or two. You'll get the same effect.  

3.) Whistle Theme (instrumental)  (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark) - 0:51     rating: *** stars

'Whistle Theme' simply repackage the Local Hero theme for a tin whistle and acoustic guitar.  pretty, but not essential. 

4.) Smooching (instrumental)  (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark - Mike Brecker - Mike Mainieri - Tony Levin) - 4:58   rating: **** stars

Showcasing Knopfler's wonderful finger picking guitar style, 'Smooching' was easily one of the prettiest things he's ever written.  It's even more stunning if you've seen the song's placement in the film.   

5.) Stargazer (instrumental)   (Alan Clark) - 1:31  rating: **** stars

One of four Clark solo compositions, 'Stargazer' accompanied the film's Aurora borealis segment ..  about all I can say is that Clark provided the perfect accompaniment for that part of the film.  

6.) The Rocks and the Thunder (instrumental)   (Alan Clark) - 0:40     rating: *** stars

The brief reprise of 'The Rocks and the Thunder' was still pretty ...   

7.) Going Home: Theme from Local Hero (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler - Alan Clark - Mike Mainierei - Tony Levin) - 4:45     rating: *** stars

The second most commercial number on the album, 'Going Home: Theme from Local Hero' packaged the underlying theme in an AOR arrangement complete with Mike Brecker sax and Knopfler's screaming lead guitar.  The track was also tapped as a single.  For anyone curious,  YouTube has a clip of Dire Straits performing the song in a 1983 concert:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3zIfO-YOzg     An obvious attempt to capitalize of Knopfler's successes, Warner Brothers even tapped the album for a single.  Gawd only knows why, but Vertigo (which released the set in the UK), elected to release the single in both 7" and 12" formats:

   7" format

- 1983's 'Going Home: Theme of The Local Hero' b/w 'Wild Theme' (Vertigo catalog number DSTR14)

   12" format

- 1983's 'Going Home: Theme of The Local Hero' b/w 'Wild Theme/Smooching' (Vertigo catalog number DSTR1412)

 

 

Again, the album isn't going to appeal to everyone and it certainly helps to have seen and enjoyed this quirky film.

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Music from the File Comfort and Joy

Company: Phonogram

Catalog: DSTR 12712
Year:
 1984

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments:12" 45 rpm pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 194

Price: $20.00

 

When I was in my early 20s I was a massive fan of Bill Forsyth's films - there was just something imminently appealing about his unique combination of funny, sad, and quirky themes - plus he was English which meant many of my friends just didn't get it (kind of like Monty Python).  And part of the appeal of Forsyth's films were the great Mark Knopfler soundtracks.  

 

So if you haven't seen Comfort and Joy (few of you have), the plotline has to do with a Scottish DJ (Alan 'Dicky' Bird) who gets entangled in and mediates a war between Glasgow ice cream vendors (Mr. Bunny and Mr. McCool).  It sounds dumb, but is actually quite intriguing.   The soundtrack contained a mishmash of songs from Dire Straits "Love Over Gold" album with the addition of three new Mark Knopfler tunes - 'Comfort', 'Joy', and 'A Fistful of Ice Cream'.  Admittedly as a film "Comfort and Joy" didn't attract the same attention that "Gregory's Girl", or "Local Hero" did, but the three original  tracks on this collection were every bit as good as Knopfler's work on those earlier soundtracks.  Just a word of warning; anyone expecting to hear a Dire Straits album probably wants to refrain from making this purchase.

 

"Music from the Film Comfort and Joy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Comfort (Theme from Comfort and Joy) (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler) -    rating: *** stars

Opening up with some melancholy sax from Chris White, 'Comfort'  is probably going to be a bit too cocktail jazzy for many folks, but it was a perfect song for the film's darker undertones and sense of loneliness.   Very pretty ...  YouTube has a promotional clip for the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqfplEqF31k 

2.) Joy (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler) -    rating: *** stars

 'Joy' found Knopfler and diving headlong into a jazzy vibe.  Normally I'm not a big jazz fan, but this one had a nice melody and when the full band kicked in, the song took off.    rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) A Fistful of Ice Cream (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler) -    rating: **** stars

The goofy title tied back to the film plotline (see above) and 'A Fistful of Ice Cream' is probably the prettiest of the three compositions with an emphasis on Knopfler's guitar and mandolin.

 

Yes, it's incidental film music and won't find favor with 99.9% of folks out there, but I'm happy to be part of the 0.01%.

 

 

 

 


Genre:: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Music from the Film Cal

Company: Mercury

Catalog: 422 822769-1
Year:
 1984

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments:--

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1255

Price: $15.00

 

Mark Knopfler's initial ventures into film soundtracks did well so it wasn't a surprise to see him continuing the musical side line with the release of 1984's "Music from the Film Cal".   I actually remember seeing this film - based on a Bernard MacLaverty novel, it was a dark and depressing film with a plotline that had something to do with a doomed love affair between Cal (a Catholic IRA member) and the Protestant widow of a policeman killed by the IRA.  At least in my neighborhood the flick came and went in a week, though the soundtrack had a much longer lasting impact on me (I can remember driving to a local Kemp Mill record store (yes, I was alive during that era), to track down a copy.  

 

Anyhow,  I'll do this write-up a little differently than normally.  First the songs and then overall thoughts:

 

"Music from the Film Cal" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Irish Boy (instrumental)  (Mark Knopfler) - 3:55     rating: **** stars
Pretty Irish-influenced instrumental that would not have sounded out of place on the earlier "Local Hero" set.

2.) The Road (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler) - 2:08      rating: **** stars

Showcasing Knopfler's always tasteful acoustic guitar and Paul Brady on tin whistle, this was about as pretty a melody as you could get without falling off the edge into adult contemporary mood music.  

3.) Waiting for her (instrumental)   (Mark Knopfler) - 0:36    rating: *** stars

Another beautiful tune, but too short to be great.   

4.) Irish Love (instrumental)    (Mark Knopfler) -2:24     rating: *** stars

More wonderful acoustic guitar from the man, though with a slight country twang courtesy of Liam O'Flynn's pipes this time out. 

5.) A Secret Place / Where Will You Go (instrumental)    (Mark Knopfler) - 1:54

6.) Father and Son (instrumental)    (Mark Knopfler) - 7:41   rating: *** stars

I like Irish music, but with the emphasis on Paul Brady's tin whistle and Liam O'Flynn's uilleanm pipes, this one just kind of faded into the background for me.   YouTube has a 1996 clip of Knopfler performing the song for a small London audience.,  Looks like it was filmed for television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdMZinwr__Y  

 

(side 2)

1.) Meeting Under the Trees (instrumental) - 0:48     rating: *** stars

Clocking in at under a minute, 'Meeting Under the Trees' was another song fragment, as opposed to a full blown composition.  Pretty, but not much too it.   

2.) Potato Picking (instrumental) - 2:06    rating: *** stars

The breezy instrumental 'Potato Picking' was the album's most traditional Irish tune, Paul Brady and Liam O'Flynn handled most of the melody with Knopfler limited to a bit of light electric guitar on top of the results. 

3.) In a Secret Place (instrumental) - 1:08  rating: *** stars

Kind of dark and  ominous, though it had nothing on 'Fear and Hatred'. 

4.) Fear and Hatred (instrumental) - 2:18     rating: **** stars

'Fear and Hatred'  found Knopfler breaking out the Dire Straits electric guitar arsenal for the truly frightening 'Love and Guilt.'  

5.) Love and Guilt (instrumental) - 3:04

6.) The Long Road (instrumental) - 7:13     rating: **** stars

This one probably should have been billed as a Dire Straits number (it actually showed up on the band's "Private Investigations" best of collection.   One of the most haunting pieces of music Knopfler's ever written and one of the soundtrack highlights.    

 

Recorded with Dire Straits alumni Guy Fletcher (keyboards), John Illsley (bass), and Terry Williams (drums),  taken individually and collectively this was one pretty soundtrack.  The problem for me is that no matter how good these tunes were, they reminded me of his earlier soundtrack albums - yes, the set started to suffer from sounds-the-same-itis.  I love tracks like 'Irish Boy', 'The Road' and 'The Long Road' but if you were to throw the in a blender with the other soundtracks and hit the mix button, you'd be hard pressed to figure out which song belonged to which album.   Still, as a soundtrack the results are pretty, relaxing, reflective ...  the perfect foggy Sunday morning soundtrack, even for folks who don't enjoy hanging in an Irish bar.



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