It’s well over 40 years now since Mark Knopfler first served notice to the wider world that he was a guitar player of rare calibre. Hundreds of millions of album sales later, and with an unparalleled catalogue of recordings to his credit, he continues to be one of the greatest exponents of the guitar in the world. We’re celebrating that fact with a uDiscover Music playlist of 20 songs featuring some of his finest-ever solos.
The list includes material both from Dire Straits, across the course of their recording span of some 15 years, and the distinguished catalogue of solo albums Knopfler has been making over the last 20-plus. We’ve also included one track from his impressive array of collaborations, in a list that runs in chronological order, from the first studio album in what has become a unique career.
We begin with the track containing what is probably still Mark’s most famous solo, and one of those that he still reproduces on a regular basis on stage: the spectacular run on his Fender Stratocaster from around 4’58” until the fade of Dire Straits’ debut hit “Sultans Of Swing.” Also from their self-titled first album of 1978, we feature the equally brilliant “Down To The Waterline” and “Water Of Love.”
From the following year’s follow-up album Communiqué, there’s the single “Lady Writer” and another track much admired by Knopfler fans, “Single Handed Sailor.” Listen for the fine solo starting at around 2’48,” which as with many of his recordings, energises the song all the way to its fade.
1980’s Making Movies offers the singles “Tunnel Of Love” and “Solid Rock” and from the 1982 album Love Over Gold there’s “It Never Rains” and the memorable solo at the culmination of the epic “Telegraph Road.” It almost goes without saying that the title track from Brothers In Arms demands a place on the list.
While Dire Straits were still recording, Knopfler paused to make the delightful Neck & Neck album with one of his guitar heroes, Chet Atkins. Their version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams” has both of them soloing delightfully throughout. At the end of the Straits’ recording era, their final studio album On Every Street contained his mellifluous solo on “You And Your Friend,” and the 1993 concert set On The Night an atypically hard-rock workout on the live version of “Private Investigations.”
Then we have seven selections from Mark’s fine collection of solo studio albums. Golden Heart included the jaunty “Don’t You Get It,” while Sailing To Philadelphia had two more fan favourites among his best solos, the exhilarating “Speedway At Nazareth” and the more measured “Baloney Again,” reminiscent of another of his favourite players, J.J. Cale.
Another example of the gentle, less-is-more playing style of his solo years is on the elegant “Our Shangri-La,” the near-title track from 2004’s Shangri-La. The Privateering album featured the folk-influenced playing of “Redbud Tree” and “Go Love,” and we finish with the Cale-esque “Broken Bones,” from 2015’s Tracker.
Follow uDiscover Music’s Dire Straits Best Of playlist.