Customer Reviews: Love Over Gold
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on July 16, 2001
Mark Knopfler obviously loves to write passacaglias - pieces of music that start with a very basic theme, played by only one or very few instruments and, often over repeated crescendos and slow-downs, increasing in volume and instrumentation to a rousing finale, performed by either all instruments or the instrumental lead "voice;" in Knopfler's case of course his trademark Fender Strat. "Brothers in Arms" has elements of a passacaglia, and so does "Speedway to Nazareth" on his latest solo release, "Sailing to Philadelphia." His greatest achievement though, not only in this regard, has to be "Telegraph Road," the opening track of "Love Over Gold." In a little over 14 minutes, the song rises from a simple opening melody, evoking the loneliness of that man walking along a deserted track at the beginning of the song's story, to a final guitar solo which is among the most ambitious and evocative pieces of music written by anyone in recent decades, anywhere and in any musical category. In between, there are no less than two other guitar solos, each of them over a minute long; dramatic centerpieces in their own right in any song but this one. And like the song's instrumentation, its lyrics trace the story of civilization from that one man walking along a track to a modern city, with six lines of traffic (three lines moving slow), unemployment, desolation and anger; so apparent in Knopfler's coarse vocals in the final verse and echoed with even greater force in the instrumental finale.

"Telegraph Road" is followed by the sinister "Private Investigations," reminiscent of Alan Parsons's interpretation of the Poe classic "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (listen to that steady beat underneath the instrumental part and tell me you don't hear the "Tell Tale Heart"), and as daring and elaborate in its composition as "Telegraph Road." Both pieces are made possible by the advent of Alan Clark and his skills as a pianist; and yet, here as there it is Knopfler's guitar play that takes front and center stage. Next is the wicked "Industrial Disease," followed by the album's title track, and last, "It Never Rains," Knopfler's bow to Bob Dylan, rendered in an interpretation so true to life that you inadvertently feel yourself transported back by a decade or more and expect him switch into "The Times They Are A-Changin'" any second. One may wonder why the record, given its mostly gloomy and cynical mood, was not named for one of the two equally stunning and dark first tracks. Perhaps, however, the answer lies in the title song's last verse: "It takes love over gold and mind over matter to do what you do that you must, when the things that you hold can fall and be shattered or run through your fingers like dust."

The album's cover rightly (although somewhat unnecessarily) describes "Love Over Gold" as "one of Dire Straits' most ambitiously conceived projects to date" and points out that it "reflects almost a year's worth of meticulous attention." Short of his film music (which he was not to start writing until a year later, with "Local Hero"), this album was the closest yet that Knopfler has come to classical composition; not just in the record's first two masterpieces but right down to little details like the xylophone air underneath the title track. It was a hard act to follow, even for a Mark Knopfler; and his virtually only choice was to take his music into other, and more diverse directions ("Brothers in Arms"). Listening to the remastered CD version of "Love Over Gold," you almost forget that unlike its mega-selling successor this recording was not "made for CD;" which in itself speaks volumes to the quality of the sound engineering and production and, more importantly, to the indeed "meticulous attention" given to every single instrumental and human voice of every single track on the album. In all of its 41+ minutes, and although it does not reflect as wide a range of musical styles as Knopfler's later work, "Love Over Gold" is one of the most complex pieces of recording he ever produced. It may have taken the release of "Brothers in Arms" to propel Dire Straits to worldwide fame forever. But it is impossible to listen to "Love Over Gold" and not recognize the unique talent of a man who, having found an initial foothold in the musical scene through the success of his band's first three albums, here made it clear once and for all just how much more the world had yet to expect from him.

Also recommended:
Alchemy: Dire Straits Live
On the Night
Dire Straits
Night in London
Sailing to Philadelphia (CD & DVD Audio)
Local Hero (1983 Film)
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on November 19, 2000
Don't let the fact that there are only five tracks on this album deter you. This is a masterful piece of work by Mark Knopfler and the boys.
Interestingly enough, the Dire Straits album that preceded this one was titled "Making Movies." In many ways, it seems as though Knopfler has done exactly that here. "Telegraph Road," the opening track, is a musical portrait of epic proportions, a tale of promise, progress, and desolation wrapped around an incredibly powerful arrangement. Knopfler's biting lyrics give this opus extra kick - "Then came the churches, then came the schools, then came the lawyers, then came the rules." His voice was made to sing this song - the sad, smoky, whisper "Now you act a little colder, like you don't seem to care," is positively chilling. Even if this were the only song on the disc, it would be worth having.
"Private Investigations" finds Knopfler narrating as the weary private eye, disillusioned and disgusted by the lives and the lies of the people he is paid to watch. "What have you got at the end of the day? What have you got to take away? A bottle of whiskey, and a new set of lies, blinds on the windows and pain behind the eyes." This cut is another example of Knopfler's ability to evoke a powerful image, using his words economically, yet masterfully, and allowing the sound to fill in the blanks. "Scarred for life. No compensation. Private investigations."
Knopfler's hilarious take on modern technology, "Industrial Disease" is a raucous romp placed right in the middle of the song cycle, giving the listener a few minutes to breathe and laugh. If you listen hard enough, you can hear the singer laughing along with you. "Two men say they're Jesus, one of 'em must be wrong" has to be one of my favorite lines ever.
The title track, amidst the other imagery, could well be Dire Straits' motto. One gets the feeling that when Knopfler sings of "Love Over Gold" he's referring not only to the character in the song, but also of his philosophy regarding his music, that the art is far more important than commercial success. (Of course, the fact that only a few years later, he wrote a song that begins with the lyric "I Want My MTV" might shoot my theory to pieces). Nonetheless, "Love Over Gold" is an excellent song
"It Never Rains" has a Dylanesque feel, both lyrically and musically. When Knopfler sings "It's a sad reminder when your organ grinder has to come to you for rent, and all you have to give him is the use of your side show tent" amidst the sound of the carnival - style organ, it's vaguely reminiscent of "Like A Rolling Stone." The song, and the album, ends with another dose of reality - "and he takes you out in Vaudeville Valley with his hand up smothering your screams, and he screws you down in Tin Pan Alley, in the city of a billion dreams," as the sound builds to a crescendo, then fittingly fades out. The movie has ended.
Mark Knopfler has come to be known, in addition to being an outstanding guitarist and lyricist, as an accomplished composer of movie soundtracks. He is incredibly adept at writing music to enhance films. He is just as talented in creating songs that evoke lasting visual images.
As far as I'm concerned, Knopfler and the various incarnations of Dire Straits never released an album that would be considered less than a five - star effort. This is one of many. Buy this one. Buy them all.
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HALL OF FAMEon August 28, 2000
I was lucky enough to be living in England just outside London in a little town called West Ruislip just down the cobbled streets from the "T" station near the famous "Orchards" pub when this album was released in 1982, and the young English couple living in the flat upstairs played this over and over, introducing me both to their good taste in music and the terrific group called "Dire Straits" in the process. Of course, as I think back upon it, I was familiar with their hit "Sultans Of Swing", but never really paid much attention until hearing this terrific album and Mark Knopfler's unbelievably stirring, crisp and innovative guitar solos. Here they introduce both their unique and unforgettable sound and also their very introspective lyrics. Both "Telegraph Road" and "Industrial Disease" provide running commentaries both on the contemporary employment problems in Britain of the early eighties, and a number of more personal matters as well.
In the short two years I lived in Britain, Knopfler became a kind of institutionalized artistic force everywhere one looked, writing soundtrack music for (among other films) "Local Hero" and "Cal", performing both alone and with Dire Straits, and collaborating with other artists, as well. The music here is very and innovative progressive rock, and the electric guitar work literally sings by itself. When I listen to the album now, it is a source of continuing amazement to me that Knopfler could make the sounds that emanated out of that instrument so uniquely animated as it is. The whole band is terrific, and it is sad that they made so few albums before internal frictions broke them apart. Enjoy this and their other wonderful albums. Here in "Love Over Gold" they make an indelible stamp on modern rock that I am sure you will find entertaining and entrancing. Enjoy!
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on July 12, 2000
Love over Gold was I think the last DS CD I bought. It' also my favorite. I'm not sure why, is it just because I've heard it least?
There are only five songs on this disk. They're all very long. The shortest I think is Industrial Disease, still clocking in at six mins or more.
Overall this is a downbeat CD, the only song with very much energy is the strange, comic industrial disease - nice to see Knopfler doesn't *have* to take himself serious all of the time.
Other than the above, first time listeners could be forgiven for finding this CD tedious and boring. Telegraph road is 14 minutes long, not ideal for those looking for a quick payoff - it takes the best part of two minutes for the intro to be done with.
There is a certain beauty in this album. Knopfler plays a lot of classical guitar and it is the first Dire Straits album to feature Alan Clark - therefore, substantial keyboards. This is really the album where Dire Straits became a physically BIG band.
Knopfler has never been considered a great vocalist, for obvious reasons. On this album his voice often sounds as if on the verge of cracking. This really contrasts with the elegant arrangements and recording.
This won't be for everyone. Even those who it will be for, may not for quite a while.
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on August 21, 2001
This album is quite a departure from what you'd hear on the first three Dire Straits albums. If it weren't for those trademark knopfler vocals, they could almost pass for a different band. A good way to compare this to previous albums would be to call this one "thicker." The guitars are louder and more distorted, and the drums are a lot more present in the mix. Everything's a lot more 'airy' sounding. Also, you have the addition of keyboardist Alan Clark, who provides some really cool atmospheric sounding synth throughout the album. Knopfler's guitars sound heavier--definitely not the same thin Sultans-Of-Swing-Strat-Tone from before.
"Love Over Gold" consists of five songs totaling 40 minutes long, the shortest of which is around six minutes. My favorite track is the first's an epic, clocking in at around 14.5 minutes. The progression of the song is great, and in listening to it I'm always reminded of how talented a songwriter Knopfler really is. All of the songs are good, but if I had to pick a least favorite, it'd probably be "Industrial Disease."
I have a copy of both this release and the original, and I must say the remaster does sound a bit better. Although this album doesn't contain my absolute favorite Dire Straits content, I must say it is my favorite album in terms of how it was recorded. The sound on this album is breathtaking at times--you really owe it to yourself to get the new remastered version.
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With LOVE OVER GOLD, Dire Straits ventured where few artists even dare. An album of five long songs totalling 41 minutes that's mostly instrumental. A far-fetched concept for most artists, but a logical one for this daring band. The album is brilliantly orchestrated, and although Mark Knopfler's guitar shines, there is far greater chemistry coming from all five members than any other band I've ever heard. The breathtaking finale of the epic "Telegraph Road" best illustrates this. The role of detective in "Private Investigations" has Knopfler delicately strumming a Spanish guitar with the moody piano of Alan Clark in the backdrop. The song veers into unpredictable places which would leave any first-time listener craving for more suspense. The album's dark and intense theme takes a momentary break in the up-tempo humor of "Industrial Disease", featuring the dual guitar mumblings of Mark Knopfler and Hal Lindes. The album is rounded out by the classical stylings of the title cut and the Dylanesque "It Never Rains", which starts off like a kitten and ends like a ferocious lion. The album's lyrics are thought provoking, but it's the intensity and depth of the music that really provides an intimate connection with the listener. LOVE OVER GOLD is arguably the Straits' best album and undoubtedly a true rock and roll masterpiece.
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on April 19, 2004
By far the best Straits album. and thats saying alot because all the albums were great with the exeption of communique wich was OK.The first time i heard telegraph road i waws in awe. Its one of the best songs i have ever heard. It just tells a fantastic story. Private Investigations is different but still very good. Knopfler does not really sing this song he mainly talks it but the lyrics are great and its just kind of creapy. Industrial Disease is also different but still very good, and is probably the worst song on the album.And Love over gold and It never rains are also amazing songs.There may only be 5 songs but they are five inspired and well written songs.A must have for any Dire straits Fan or any Mark knopfler fan.Get it.
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on December 14, 2008
It took Mark Knopfler 4 albums to reach the height of his artistic abilities at least when it comes to creating a recording that can only be described as a masterpiece of aural art. This is by far the best Dire Straits album ever with every track exhibiting a side of Knopfler's personality and compositional skill. From the singular wit and sense of humour that we had a hint of from tracks like "Les Boys" to the funny lyric or two on "Romeo and Juliet" from Making Movies we get my favourite tongue in cheek laugher "Industrial Disease" here. Although this may not have been his best selling album but then again it should be no surprise that this is the case as it is frequently so that an artist's best ever work is not also his most commercially successful one, as an overall completely and consistently solid piece of art, make no mistake that "Love Over Gold" represents Knopfler at the top of his game and he's not come even close since. Brothers in Arms is his well-deserved commercial sell-out and his pension plan but is nowhere close to reaching the heights that this brilliant album does. If you are looking at getting just one album from Dire Straits folks let this one be it.

This album has also been remastered very well even though it has nothing to do with the SHM process more of which I will cover later. The sound quality due to the remastering is first class making this the best sounding version of the album that I've ever heard. This mlps (mini-lp replica sleeve) version though is a mixed bag. First the great news: this album has been very well remastered for an excellent sound and has a 16-page booklet with all the lyrics in both English and Japanese and rather bizarrely has a square cardboard insert of the original lp centre circle of both sides of the record indicating at the bottom right my "copy no. 1496" making me wonder who the lucky bloke is who has "copy no. 1". The inner jacket sleeve faithfully replicates the original lp with all the tiny lyrics on it. The only beef I have with this and is why I only gave it 4 stars is the actual assembly of the mlps itself which is so disappointingly poor given the quality of the rest of the package. The cardboard is of thin poor quality and looks as if it will fall apart once the glue gets old. For examples of very well assembled mlps designs go see the ones done for the entire Hall & Oates reissue as well as those done for Queen and The Band which are simply works of art which showed those concerned had great pride in their work. Too bad there are no bonus tracks here as it would have been nice to have the single "Twisting By the Pool" included.

"Telegraph Road" is my favourite Knopfler tune and I believe it to be his best ever. "Private Investigations" is another classic and has to be among the top 10 tunes he has ever written showcasing his completeness as a guitarist playing a very decent Spanish style guitar throughout. "Love Over Gold" is such a beautiful track that it almost brings tears of joy to my eyes whenever I hear it. Parts of it sound a lot like Tina Turner's hit single "Private Dancer" to me but I guess I shouldn't be surprised as that track was part written by Knopfler himself and you can't get mad at a guy for ripping himself off anyway. Listening to this cd while I write this I am amazed at just how good the sound quality is and I have to applaud the job the remasters engineers did a few years back. Too bad the mlps design couldn't do justice to the overall package though.

A word about SHM-CD so that there's no more confusion seeing as how I've gotten a few of these cds I've discovered that the important thing to note is that SHM cds are NOT remastered. They claim to have improved the plastic surface so that the laser reading the track info is better able to provide a clearer sound. After regretfully finding out the hard way after listening to both my original cd versions and the SHM versions of Whitesnake's "1987" and Def Leppard's "Hysteria" and "Adrenalise" among a few others I've found out that unless the underlying tracks have been remastered well, the SHM process only accentuates and emphasises the limitations of the original master. By making a better reflective surface, all SHM does is to make the imperfections sound worse unless again they have been well mastered to begin with. That explains why this album sounds so good because the SHM treatment was done to the remastered version and why the Whitesnake and Def Leppard SHMs sound so terribly bad and even worse than my original cd versions which haven't been remastered before the SHM treatment was applied and so only succeeded in making the terrible imperfections on my original cd become much more obvious and ironically I had to pay a lot more money to get a worse sounding cd to my original ones. Just a friendly warning so that you know what SHM is all about and why a truly well-done remaster is what you should look for and not just a better reflective surface which is what SHM represents. For this reason, I have done deeper research in ensuring the SHM treatment is being done on previously well remastered cds before getting for example the Moody Blues and Alan Parsons Project albums that have been advertised as being given the SHM treatment. I should be getting these soon and I'll be able then to tell you how they sound. I'm avoiding like the plague any SHM cds advertised that I cannot first ascertain the source of the original master. Now they are advertising a new "Blu-cd" which apparently uses a similar process to Sony's Blu-ray dvds and that holds some excitement for me as it may just make existing old cds sound better as it's an entire process and not just using better quality plastic reflective surfaces like SHM which cannot actually do anything to improve a poor master to begin with but instead ironically to make it sound a lot worse!

In conclusion, this mlps version of an excellent album is a mixed bag because it costs a great deal and yet the cardboard sleeve is poorly designed and assembled but the excellent sound quality somewhat makes up for this. You decide if this is still a value proposition enough for you to part with the serious mullah this retails at.
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on January 17, 2015
this is my favourite dire straights album. i do like all their albums but this is in my opinion one of the best albums ever recorded.
telegraph road is one of the best songs ever written. the lyric takes us on a journey with a man who moves out to the sticks to escape the crowds. as in reality, the crowds follow with the ever swelling growth of population and industrial growth. with this growth come the things that destroy the heart, the complications of life all plotted out in this one brilliant song. the brilliantly written music and soaring guitar sections just add icing to the cake. private investigations is a unique song told from the first person in a spoken word style. the music is sensational and beyond any justifiable criticism. industrial disease is fun but poignant. love over gold is a beautiful piece of work and the under appreciated it never rains is a sensation in and of itself.
anyone serious about well written and played music should own this amazing album. dire straits magnificent jewel for the ears.
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on January 24, 2001
Well, hardcore fans of Dire Straits, this is the best Dire Straits album I have heard ! And the "Telegraph Road" will always be etched in my memory as the best song I ever heard of any rock band. There is an aura of "story-telling" in all the Dire Straits songs, which is the most highlighted in the "Telegraph Road". The lyrics revv up images of what it must have been like, when the first cities where formed - when "urbanisation" started. It constantly reminds you of the things that people forgot and gave up in the rush of city-life. This nostalgia is pronounced in the end when the protagonist promises his girl-friend that he willl take her away "From all these signs saying sorry, but we are closed. All the way down the Telegraph Road" A must-listen for any Dire Straits fan. Much as the lyrics are beautiful, so is the almost 5 minute long guitar tunes at the end of the song. The guitar captivates me and makes me wishing for more of it when it ends!
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