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Sailing to Philadelphia

253 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 26, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The first pop song album from Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler in four years, and just the second solo album in his illustrious career, Sailing To Philadelphia marks the singer-songwriter-guitarist's long-awaited return to the signature sound that made Dire Straits one of rock's most acclaimed and popular groups

Former Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler's second proper solo album (he's remained preoccupied with soundtrack work through the years) is a stirring and considered set of transatlantic blues. The collection is bolstered by contributions from Van Morrison ("The Last Laugh") and James Taylor (the title track), while Knopfler's guitar playing remains fresh and alive as he merges country and folk picking with electric blues. But it's as a writer that he really impresses: "Baloney Again" is a sensitive portrayal of a black gospel outfit in Jim Crow America; the title track is an intriguing distillation of Thomas Pynchon's doorstopper novel, Mason & Dixon; and "Silvertown Blues" is a stirring appreciation of blue-collar endeavor. A lovingly and honestly crafted collection, Sailing to Philadelphia shows Knopfler's talent and commitment remain as strong as ever. --Gavin Martin

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 26, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: September 26, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B00004Y6Q0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

219 of 222 people found the following review helpful By Michael M. on September 28, 2000
Format: Audio CD
In sharp contrast to his last solo effort, 1996's wildly eclectic "Golden Heart," Mark Knopfler returns with a vengeance to the roots rock/folk/blues that defined his songwriting with Dire Straits. The result is "Sailing to Philadelphia," a stirring collection of tunes that can only be described as cinematic.
The driving first cut, "What It Is," oozes with imagery of Scottish nightlife and a slightly sinister undercurrent. Yet the song is thrilling; Knopfler's clean Stratocaster sound, which was his early trademark, is a joy to hear again, as his fiddle-like solos literally gallop to the fore.
The many ballads on the album are also quite atmospheric. In each lovingly crafted song, Knopfler layers varying textures and tones, and combined with his remarkable lyrics, they become little "movies" for the listener. "Prairie Wedding" evokes haunting scenes of the Old West, while "Sands of Nevada" is almost oppressive with the weary desperation of washed-up Las Vegas gamblers. The beautiful title track, a duet with James Taylor, works surprisingly well, as their vocals blend so perfectly. The best way to appreciate these gems is through headphones; every nuance adds to the experience.
The faster songs are also noteworthy. The tongue-in-cheek "Do America" sounds like a cross between "Money for Nothing," "Heavy Fuel," and "The Bug." And "Who's Your Baby Now" would certainly be the result if you tossed the Everly Brothers and the Beatles in a blender. "Junky Doll" is delightfully edgy, but "Speedway at Nazareth" is a marvel. The lyrics are sung at a snappy, bluegrass pace, but the instrumental climax roars with Knopfler's epic guitar work.
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130 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Dave on September 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Mark Knopfler`s new "Sailing to Philadelphia" is his long awaited second solo effort. This interesting CD is in many ways a retrospective of Knopfler`s work, from 1978 to present. At times it`s simple, honest and bluesy, remindful of J.J. Cale`s influence on him. Other times, especially during ballads like the title track "Sailing to Philadelphia," it sounds like a track from Dire Straits "Love Over Gold." And a pleasant surprise is "Prarie Wedding," which is a rare stylistic return to the early Dire Straits sound of the classic "Communique" album.
But certainly the finest work on the CD is "What It Is." This is destined to go down as one of Knopfler`s most important songs, alongside the likes of "Sultans of Swing," "Wild West End" and "Brothers In Arms." It`s obvious he took special care in crafting it. One word of advice: this track (and actually the entire album) is best listened to on a quality set of headphones or a very expensive stereo -- in a very quiet setting -- to be fully appreciated. "What It Is" is both complicated and delicate, leading the listener down a curvy country road of intricate guitar work that is unmistakably Knopfler. It is classic Knopfler in its ability to offer both toe-tapping energy and a relaxing, almost hypnotic flow.
True Knopfler fans listen to each release with an ear for his patented Stratocaster style. This album delivers, but while offering a glimpse into the past, takes a look into the future as well. Though his style looks forward and continually evolves, Knopfler never seems to lose sight of his roots.
A real gem.
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By WFS on October 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If it were possible to give the latest Mark Knopfler work six stars (or more), I definitely would! He is at his best. And while I think "Brothers in Arms" is the greatest song ever written, there are some here that give it a run for its money. 1) What It Is - Incredible lyrics, imagery; tones it down towards the end, then effectively builds it back up (vintage MK); Top notch. 2) Sailing to Philadelphia - Atmospheric; MK and James Taylor together; it doesn't get any better than that. 3) Who's Your Baby Now - Good; reminds me of a Buddy Holly song. 4) Baloney Again - Bluesy; Extremely effective guitar; excellent song. 5) The Last Laugh - With Van Morrison; very melancholy; Superb. 6) Do America - OK; Upbeat tempo; out of place, considering the other songs. 7) Silvertown Blues - Again, incredible lyrics, imagery; the most effective guitar playing in the world; May be the best song on the disc. 8) El Macho - Latiny feel; not bad, but not great either. 9) Prairie Wedding - Very atmospheric; lots of synth; Guitar lead-ins; excellent song. 10) Wanderlust - Again atmospheric, with synth; 7 on a scale of 10. 11) Speedway at Nazareth - Remarkable; starts out sounding like bluegrass, then finishes with rock guitar; only he can do something like this and make it sound good. 12) Junkie Doll - Didn't like it when I first heard it, but it is growing on me. 13) Sands of Nevada - Very atmospheric; Excellent in all respects. 14) One More Matinee - Melancholy; ends CD on a great note. (As you can see, I bought the UK version) This is one of the best CD's I have ever heard. While we don't get any of the long guitar solos (a la "Love Over Gold"), the songs themselves (melody, lyrics) more than make up for that. And there is plenty of his guitar work in every song. The Stratocaster never sounded so good.
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