Privateering Deluxe Limited Edition
Double Vinyl, Import, Box Set
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|Audio CD, Box set, Import, September 11, 2012||
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Super Deluxe box set includes the standard 2 CD pressing of the albu, a bonus CD containing three additional tracks. Double vinyl LP pressing. A DVD that contains the a Life in Songs documentary, a numbered art print and a credit card with exclusive code for you to download a full concert. 2012 two CD release from the British guitarist, songwriter, producer and former Dire Straits leader. Privateering is Knopfler's first double album, each song an original. They cover a wide range of locations and characters from both sides of the Atlantic and move through a number of genres which include several new Blues originals. The album is a soulful and heartfelt collection masterfully performed by a group of world class players. In addition to what has become Knopfler's long-time band, hand-picked guest aces include Kim Wilson (harp) of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tim O'Brien (mandolin), singer Ruth Moody of the Wailin' Jenny's, Paul Franklin (pedal steel) and Scotland's Phil Cunningham (accordion). Twenty new titles were recorded at the artist's British Grove Studios in London with the following players: Richard Bennett (guitar), Jim Cox (piano) Guy Fletcher (keyboards), John McCusker (fiddle), Mike McGoldrick (whistle and flute), Glenn Worf (bass) and Ian Thomas (drums). Knopfler was assisted by co-producers Guy Fletcher and Chuck Ainlay.
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In interviews, Knopfler likens traveling with a band to sailing the world with a crew of brigands, which is what privateers once did during times of war. They were authorized by governments to attack foreign cargo ships, plundering them for booty in order to weaken the enemy. They didn't sink vessels, only commandeered them, and this is akin to what Mark and his band do when they play, capturing new fans who who join those that have followed him since the days of Dire Straits.
The songs on "Privateering" are consistently low-key, character-driven, beautifully written stories of scoundrels on the run and people on the down-and-out, including the opening track, "Redbud Tree": "I crouch in dread / Discovery my certain death / Her leaves reaching for my head / As I suspend my breath / Redbud tree shelter me, shelter me."
The song "Haul Away" introduces a nautical sound, complete with a Celtic penny whistle, fiddle, and accordion, and a theme of lost love. The album then shifts to a great blues tune, "Don't Forget Your Hat," featuring steel slide guitar and harmonica: "Look out the window / Never saw so much rain / You better get down to the station / If you wanna catch that train / So long, I guess that's that / Hey hey, don't forget your hat."
From trains, Knopfler returns to a song of the sea on the title track, which makes it clear that privateers were little better than pirates. The charmingly simple "Miss You Blues" follows (though it's not actually a blues), as does the gently rocking "Corn Beef City," a truck-driving song that reflects the hard economic times we're living through: "You don't ask questions when there's nothing in the bank / You gotta feed the kids and put the diesel in the tank."
As one might expect, "Go, Love" is a sad song of farewell, while "Hot or What" switches back to the blues for some amusing first-person braggin' and harmonica blowin' from a lucky gambler. The first CD closes with "Yon Two Crows," the tale of a muddy shepherd, and the touching, evocative "Seattle," about a pair of disillusioned dreamers in my rainy hometown: "I still believe that there's somewhere for us / But now it's something that we don't discuss / You're the best thing I ever knew / Stay with me, baby, and we'll make it to / Seattle."
Opening disc two is a second Celtic melody entitled "Kingdom of Gold." Its lyrics describe the dire fate of buccaneers who attack a powerful medieval king: "His axes and armor will conquer these devils / The turbulent raiders will falter and fall / Their leaders be taken, their camps burned and leveled / They'll hang in the wind from his citadel walls."
Next up is "Got to Have Something," a basic blues tune about whiskey and guns, succeeded by the wistful, jazz-tinged "Radio City Serenade," a nostalgic love song to New York City, and "I Used to Could," a lively honky-tonk number about a bad boy and his GMC Cannonball truck. "Gator Blood" is Southern-fried roots music with wailing pedal steel guitar, while "Bluebird" is another melancholy blues about a farmer who's run out of luck. The beautiful gloom continues with "Dream of the Drowned Submariner" and "Blood and Water," but Knopfler finally allows us a bit of happiness on the blues shuffle "Today Is OK," in which a boxer addresses his girlfriend:
"Baby, you can read my mind / I'll be home just after nine
You're the best medicine I know / Tonight we're gonna let it all go
Put on that pretty silk shirt / Put on that tight black skirt
Put on those heels so black / We can party on when I get back"
The album ends with a cute bit of Americana that looks at Jack "After the Bean Stalk." Like much of "Privateering," it's country and bluesy, warm and wry. Nothing flashy, just good, comfortable music you can relax into.
If fact, it's "so Knopfler" that you begin to wonder if that's a good thing or not. Has his originality become predictable? Nah - still great.
The majority of these beautifully recorded, mostly-acoustic, tracks lean towards slower ballads, which is fine by me. Of the handful of faster tempo songs, many have a funky Bourbon Alley feel to them ("I Used to Could", "Gator Blood") and merely rate an "adequate" on initial listen. In fact, if I had to name a theme to the album after a single listen, I'd say it's backwoods, southern US, honky tonk ("After the Beanstalk"), which I would not normally like, but somehow he makes it work for me. But it's the ballads, which as usual, always excel. Not many write such wonderful lyrics that paint such colorful pictures in your mind (Remember "Ragpicker's Dream"? "Madame Geneva's"?)
My very favorite Mark Knoplfer tunes almost always have the wonderful Celtic-inspired instrumentations that he and his band does so very well, and this collection includes a couple of those as well.
Often I don't like an album the first time I hear it, so it amazes me how I can listen to new Mark Knopfler album and instantly like it. I can tell whether each song will be extraordinary, or merely average in the first few measures of the track. "Radio City Serenade" captured my heart immediately, and "Redbud Tree" and "Kingdom of Gold" stand out as future classics that will get lots of play in my iTunes library. Just from the name, I knew "Dream of the Drowned Submariner" would be the kind of song that has earned Mark Knopfler the top place in my favorite artist list, and I was not wrong.
So, while there's nothing especially new or experimental here, you can rest comfortably knowing that these beautiful tunes will embrace you like an old friend.
Mark's not for everyone, but if you're already a fan, do not hesitate. You will love this album.
Fans will remember how great discs like "Golden Heart" and "Ragpicker's Dream" were. To me, "Kill To Get Crimson" and even "Get Lucky" were a bit spotty by comparison. "Privateering" reaffirms Knopfler as a great writer, great guitar player and great singer. There ain't a clinker on either of these discs, folks.
With the help of Kim Wilson from Fabulous Thunderbirds on harp and studio vet Jim Cox on piano, Knopfler offers a wide variety of song stylings including irish-tinged, sea-flavored ballads ("Haul Away", "Kingdom Of Gold", "Privateering"), Be-Bop/Skiffle ("I Used To Could", "Corn Beef City"), and lots and lots of cool Blues ("Don't Forget Your Hat", "Bluebird", "Gator Blood"). If you liked songs like "You Can't Beat The House" or "Punish The Monkey", these two discs will delight you.
This is far and way my new favorite Knopfler disc. Way to go, Mark!