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The Ragpicker's Dream

153 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 1, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Ragpickers's Dream, the third solo album from the acclaimed leader of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, is a rootsy Americana-leaning epic about the working man. Knopfler, who has sold a staggering 108 million combined albums with Dire Straits, the Notting Hillbillies and solo, adds The Ragpicker's Dream to his legacy as one of rock's most admired artists.

Even at the peak of Dire Straits' fame, Mark Knopfler's music often seemed informed by a restless worldview as abstruse as his guitar playing was fluid and expressive. This follow-up to his impressive 2000 collection, Sailing to Philadelphia, finds Knopfler chasing a similar musical and lyrical muse, with results that are even more surprising and loose-limbed. "Why Aye Man," the bracing opening chantey that sets much of the album's tone, draws parallels between Geordie pub-speak and Native American chants whilst lamenting economic refugees of Thatcherism forced to ply their blue-collar trades--and keep their Brit pub culture alive--deep in the Fatherland. From there, Knopfler takes us by "A Place Where We Used to Live" for a lounge-y, Jobim-inflected reminder that one can never really go home, drops in on "Quality Shoe" for a tribute to Roger Miller, and gives us a typically dry, so-deadpan-it's-funny rundown of his Circus Sideshow pals on "Devil Baby." "Marbletown," a graveyard folk-blues, showcases the musician at home on solo acoustic guitar, while the loping, laconic "Coyote" draws its good-natured inspiration from a beast named Wile E. But it's the way that Knopfler connects disparate cultures and histories with subliminal, deceptively effortless grace on "Fare Thee Well Northumberland," "You Don't Know You're Born" (both of which feature Knopfler's signature languorous, blues-inflected soloing), the folksy "Hill Farmer's Blues," and the country-fried "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" that make the album a triumph of understatement. --Jerry McCulley

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 1, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B00006J3T4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,957 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 94 people found the following review helpful By o dubhthaigh VINE VOICE on October 2, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Finally! A rock star who understands his strengths and knows how to use them to optimal effect! This is a brilliant, exquisite dispaly of song craft, subtle and sophisticated guitar playing, sublimely wrought melodies and arrangements that will stand as a hallmark of one of the truly great writers to have emerged at the end of the seventies. 25 years on and Mark Knopfler is more in command of his considerable powers than ever before. Perhaps through his soundtracks, stint with the Notting Hill Billies, his "Sailing to Philadelphia" Mark has shed his money for nothing vapour lock and emerged, or better reemerged as the eminent storyteller who so finally crafted epics like "Telegraph Road" and "Brothers in Arms" and of course "Sultans."
The genuine article, as one might say, he is Geordie through and through, and his borderlands colours wave bravely over this album of finely written stories. From the opening "Way Aye Man", all full of Tyneside atmosphere and courage to the closing "Old Pigweed" the narrators are real people with very effecting tales to tell. Knopfler and James McMurtry share that unique ability to gain the insight of people who live close to their circumstances, like most of us do, and dissect the issues that are the crest jewel of the decisions we make in life.
The band on this disc is just incredible. Chad Cromwell's drumming is the absolutely perfect foil for Knopfler's guitar lines, and fellow Notting Hillman, Guy Fletcher is on board to keep things organically true to the bone. The bass lines are as dynamic as the guitar runs and when you listen to "Coyote", complete with horns, it strikes you how well intelligence can swing.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By JD Cetola VINE VOICE on October 2, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Mark Knopfler's third solo album (not counting his numerous film soundtracks) is his bluesiest yet. "The Ragpicker's Dream" features 12 tracks and clocks in at almost 56 minutes. All tracks include vocals and the backing band is top notch and features (of course) Guy Fletcher on keyboards and some nice drumwork by Chad Cromwell. Paul Franklin adds his pedal steel mastery to three of the tracks. The piano (played by Jim Cox who also plays organ on several of the more bluesy tracks) is more prominent than on previous solo efforts as well, and adds a jazz-like quality to several of the tracks.
Musically, "TRD" is steeped in the blues with hints of folk, swing, and jazz. As for comparisons with previous work, this disc is most similar to the "Wag the Dog" soundtrack and (in some instances) Dire Straits' "On Every Street". The focus is the music (and also the lyrics) and not so much the guitar work. There's some crying and singing, but mostly the playing is subdued and workmanlike. There are no hyper-emotional solos (although some of the work on "Devil Baby" comes close) like on "Are We in Trouble Now" or "Nobody's Got the Gun" from "Goldenheart". If that's what you're looking for, you may be a tad disappointed in TRD. If not, you'll be well-satisfied by this release. There are a lot of bluesy numbers ("Why Aye Man", "Marbletown", and the Soggy Bottom Boys' sounding "Fare the Well Northumberland"), some jazz-inflicted tracks ("A Place Where We Used to Live") and several playful tunes ("Coyote", "Quality Shoe" and "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville"). The brilliant "Ragpicker's Dream" would've fit (musically) nicely on "The Princess Bride" soundtrack.
Lyrically, TRD focuses on blue collar workers and workingclass towns.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By sacflies on January 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I've dug Mark Knopfler ever since "Sultans of Swing" and like a fine wine...well, I don't know much about wine...but Mr. Knopfler is definitely growing even better with age. "The Ragpicker's Dream" is proof positive of this. Fantastic album that grows on you with each listen. Don't expect the second coming of Dire Straits here. This is a different Mark Knopfler. A fusion of folk, rock and country with a touch of blues and a dash of humor all with an ole time feel. Mr. Knopfler has become quite the storyteller through his songs. It is a very "visual" album and it does not take much effort to visualize the people and places that his lyrics lead you. His quitar may have mellowed a bit over the years but it has not lost any of its impact and has picked up a sort of understated beauty...the man knows his way around a fret board. Beautiful stuff to listen to. And that voice...grown finer still over the years...soothing and charming as ever...and now you believe even more that voice knows from which it is speaking.
This album will charm you. If at first you don't quite get it give it a few more turns and it will begin to become clear that Mr. Knopfler has got it going on. It will leave you with a good positive feeling despite its low key, understated feel and at the same time perhaps a bit of a tear in your eye that it is over. That is quickly remedied by another spin through this wonderful collection of tunes.
Dig through the rubble and pick up "The Ragpicker's Dream".
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on January 28, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It is anyone's guess as to whether the former Dire Straits crooner and guitarist "still gets chicks for free", but Ragpicker's Dream, the third of three brilliant solo albums released in the wake of Mark Knopfler's former band, proves that he doesn't get money for nothin'. Despite the speckles of genius Knopfler bestowed upon the music world with Dire Straits, the gritty, stylish honesty of recent solo albums such as Golden Heart, Sailing to Philadelphia and his latest release suggest that his old band's demise was a fortuitous event for rock `n roll. The break up facilitated Knopfler's much-needed escape from the glaring spotlight under which he was cast after the monumentally successful Brothers in Arms. Never has Knopfler demonstrated such eagerness to explore more varied musical terrain as on the solo albums that ensued, from the fluttering fiddles and bagpipes of Golden Heart to the impassioned acoustic blues of Ragpicker's Dream.
Most fans came to expect a certain sound from Dire Straits; the instantly captivating guitar licks and shuffling rhythm of "Money For Nothing" or "Sultans of Swing," the chiming organ of "Walk of Life," or the jangling hooks of `So Far Away." However, the Dire Straits oeuvre is a rather inconsistent one, including only a couple albums of sustained energy and a host of lesser collections ranging from decent to dismal. The conventional boundaries that confined Dire Straits ultimately became so exhausted that the band had nowhere left to turn. 1991's On Every Street, the band's farewell album, showcased Knopfler's increasing enthusiasm for, among other sounds, the twang and wail of Nashville, playing with country legend Chet Atkins as well as the Notting Hillbillies. The days of MTV videos and duets with Sting were clearly a thing of the distant past.
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