Records That Made History

Dire Straits – Alchemy: Dire Straits Live

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Alchemy: Dire Straits Live is the first live double album by British rock band Dire Straits, released on March 16, 1984 by Vertigo Records internationally and Warner Bros. Records in the United States. Recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on 22 and 23 July 1983, the album contains well-known songs from the band’s first four albums, the ExtendeDancEPlay EP and Mark Knopfler’s personal soundtrack album Local Hero. Many of the songs have been reworked and include extensive improvisational sections. The album cover is taken from a section of a Brett Whiteley painting entitled Alchemy from 1974. The album was re-released in a remastered version on 8 May 2001 with an extra track “Love Over Gold”, which adds a much-needed change of pace to generally slow first record.

Alchemy: Dire Straits Live opens with an extended performance of “Once Upon A Time In The West” from their album Communique, in which the sound of Knopfler’s guitar does not go unnoticed. Then comes “Expresso Love”, which is another great track that brought new life to the stage. “Romeo And Juliet” then, through Making Movies, takes the tempo down a bit and brings out the National Steel acoustic guitar of Knopfler, who then goes classical for “Love Over Gold”. The epic performance of “Sultans Of Swing”, with which the band literally lights fires from the passion with which it plays, is the one that closes the first disc.

The album’s second disc opens with “Two Young Lovers” with Mel Collins’ saxophone and Mark Knopfler’s Gibson SG making a splash. “Tunnel Of Love” then opens with a big jam from the band and Mel Collins before moving into a really fiery performance. The regular concert set closes with an equally epic rendition of “Telegraph Road”, which is superior to the original version from Love Over Gold. The first encore that follows is “Solid Rock” with Knopfler playing his Schepter Telecaster and Mel Collins again adding some sax making this performance superior to the original Making Movies album. The concert closes with the instrumental “Theme From Going Home” which is also far superior to its original version.

Alchemy: Dire Straits Live reached No. 46 on the US charts, went gold and is considered the group’s best live album.

In a review for AllMusic, critic William Ruhlmann wrote of the album: “There is an interesting contrast between the music, much of which is slow in style and mood, Mark Knopfler’s vocals, the guitar riffs, which sound like electric Spanish guitar as well as the audience’s response, which literally ignites the arena screaming, singing and clapping when given the chance.

The album is just great with great music perfectly executed. There is an artistry to the whole event, from the details of the performances, the orchestration of the songs to their arrangement. Even “Going Home”, the theme music from Local Hero, with which the album closes is also perfectly chosen.

Through this excellent live album I select, what else, “Sultans Of Swing”.

Tracklist

1. Once Upon A Time In The West 13:00
2. Romeo And Juliet 8:17
3. Expresso Love 5:45
4. Private Investigations 7:34
5. Sultans Of Swing 10:54
6. Two Young Lovers 4:49
7. Intro (The Carousel Waltz) 4:29
8. Tunnel Of Love 10:00
9. Telegraph Road 13:37
10. Solid Rock 6:01
11. Going Home – Theme From ‘Local Hero’ 6:05

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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