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Chart Chat Album Review : Mark Knopfler – ‘Tracker’ (Released 16th March 2015)

Chart Chat Album Review : Mark Knopfler – ‘Tracker’ (16.03.15)

Mark’s solo career began back in 1983 when he worked on the soundtrack to ‘Local Hero’. That became the first of eight soundtrack albums, with the most recent being ‘A Shot At Glory’ in 2002. Fast forward to March 2015 and we see the release of ‘Tracker’, his eighth studio album which has already become his first to reach the top three. Some fans still hark back to his Dire Straits days, asking when they might reform and record new material, but it has been twenty four years now since ‘On Every Street’ topped the charts, and barring a live album ‘On The Night’ in 1993 the band have been completely inactive ever since.

Over the years he has created himself as a very successful album artist, with seven of his eight studio albums reaching the top ten. That contrasts with just two top forty hit singles; ‘Darling Pretty’ which reached no.33 in 1996 and then ‘Boom Like That’ which peaked at no.34 in 2004. His songs however have continued to receive airplay, and tracks such as ‘Going Home’ and ‘What It Is’ are instantly recognisable to radio audiences across the country.

It is clear that Mark knows how to craft a decent song, and everyone knows just how well he can play guitar. His solo output has tended to steer clear of the pop songs which made his career with Dire Straits, and this album is no different. The only song with a slightly more pop feel to it is ‘Beryl’, a track which was inspired by the British novelist Beryl Bainbridge.  A video consisting of clips of the artist and her work was compiled to promote the single, and at the time of writing it had received over 24k views.  It is also the shortest song on offer here with nine of the eleven main tracks clocking in at over five minutes in length.

The album kicks off with ‘Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes’, a bluesy track which conjurs up images of its title. You can imagine Mark performing this with his band in a smokey club somewhere.

Third track ‘River Towns’ is for me the highlight of the album with its feel reminding me of ‘Sailing To Philadelphia’, my favourite Knopfler song and title track of his fourth studio release.  It comes closely followed by ‘Skydiver’, a mid tempo toe tapper which displays some fine guitar work by Mark as the song develops. Meanwhile ‘Lights Of Taormina’ is another stand out track, and having visited this area of Sicily it certainly conjurs up the landscape in my mind.

Each listener will have their own opinion, and if I had one criticism it’s that the occasional track such as ‘Basil’ is just too slow. The whole album has a laid back feel, but sometimes it drops off altogether. ‘Mighty Man’ also falls into this category as does ‘Silver Eagle’.

The bonus edition comes with a further four tracks although in contrast to the rest of the album they are quite brief. ‘Heart Of Oak’ is a simple tune, and but is shorter than two minutes while ‘.38 Special’ is decent enough but still falls short of the three minute mark. Six minute epic ‘Terminal Of Tribute To’ is much more substantial and should have featured on the standard edition in my opinion. ‘My Heart Has Never Changed’ is fairly typical of the album, but doesn’t really stand out.

So in summary this is another solid collection of Mark’s songs.  As with most of his albums there are a few special tracks, but a few less memorable ones too. If you have his other studio releases then this will not disappoint.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

28 March, 2015 - Posted by | ChartChat

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