Great Rock Albums of 1980: Dire Straits- Communique
I first came by this album back in 1980 in what for me was rather unusual fashion. In December of said year, I was on liberty in Naples, Italy often referred to by American sailors and marines as the grease pit of the Mediterranean. Not to offend any Italians who may be reading this but it’s not the cleanest city I’ve been to and if you want to see your life flash before your eyes, then take a taxi. I only saw one traffic light in the whole of the city. Well, two marine buddies and I were letting our hair down in the city, (it was our first port call after leaving the Persian Gulf) so we went a bit wild. We began partying with this Englishman who had just bought this album and one owner of one of the bars we went to let him play it and I must say that through my drunken haze, I rather liked it.
Thirty three years later and sober, I still like it, probably even more. Mark Knopfler’s guitar work grabs you on the very first track, “Once Upon a Time in the West” and holds you there. The next four tracks bring you more bluesy guitar work and it reminds me a little of the Grateful Dead or Little Feat. All good tracks and just as you think you’re settling in for more of the same, the sixth track, “Angels of Mercy” changes the tempo and gets you back into it again. A very strong track and I’m pretty sure they played it when I saw them live in 1985. Then you get more of that same blues guitar from Knopfler and co in the next to the last song, “Single Handed Sailor” where the guitar work is reminiscent of the classic “Sultans of Swing.” When it’s all over, you end with a feeling that you’ve just heard an album by a very good band.
1. Once Upon a Time in the West
3. Where Do You Think You’re Going
5. Lady Writer
6. Angel of Mercy
7. Portobello Belle
8. Single Handed Sailor
9. Follow Me Home
Mark Knopfler- lead guitar, vocals
David Knopfler- rhythm guitar, vocals
John Illsley- bass, vocals
Pick Withers- drums
B. Bear- keyboards
“Communique” to me is a very underrated album, which is why I’m slightly surprised to discover that it got to number 11 in the U.S. charts and much higher in others. For hearing blues based guitar, this album is one of the best, a great gem.
Next post: Journey- Departure
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