On March 16, 1984, "Dire Straits" released their double live album "Alchemy: Dire Straits Live".
Ten months after the release of the excellent "Love Over Gold" album and just before becoming a stadium giant following the album "Brothers In Arm", "Dire Straits" arrives at "Hammersmith Odeon" in London, reinforced by three guest musicians, to record their first live album.
The recordings took place during the two last performances of the "Love Over Gold Tour" tour, which took place on July 22-23, 1983.
The album includes songs from all four first albums of the band, from the EP released during the eight-month tour - "ExtendedancEPlay" and the soundtrack of the movie "Local Hero". It gives us "Dire Straits" as it was not heard on their studio albums. Live, energetic and electrifying!
The line-up in this live album is the same as the one recorded "Love Over Gold", except for drummer Terry Williams who replaced Pick Withers, who left the band in late 1982 to spend time with his family, having been a part of all four albums of the band.
Despite Pick Withers' fantastic talents, Terry Williams' addition seems to have infused life and dynamism into songs such as: "Romeo and Juliet", "Tunnel of Love" and "Telegraph Road", which sound a little "thinner" in the studio versions.
In addition to the five "Dire Straits" members, the band thickened its sound with the help of another keyboardist - Tommy Mandel, who played with Brian Adams and assists the talented Alan Clark, who joined the band in 1980. Other additions are percussionist Joop de Korte and saxophonist Mel Collins. Here is the place to note that, the sound of this live show is amazing. The sound quality on this album is almost as good as a studio recording, and this makes listening to it a real delight.
Beyond the fact that the performance sounds much fuller and more energetic than that of the studio albums, the versions of most of the songs here are longer and include improvisational sections and additions, thus adding value to the album. For example, "Sultans of Swing" from the debut album stretches for almost 11 minutes with a huge and crazy guitar solo, one of the greatest ever, "Tunnel Of Love" from the album "Making Movies" is almost 15 minutes running, and still, the flow of the album is light, fluid and far from being Boring.
Guitarist, singer, and the undisputed band "captain" Mark Knopfler simply surpasses himself here, not only in leading and sweeping all the musicians after him but in simply fantastic playing that proves what a gifted and talented guitarist he is and how much he deserves to be included among the greatest guitarists of all time. Mark Knopfler proves his rich versatility in playing, that combines amazing technique and tremendous emotion. It happens with the classical guitar in the song "Private Investigations", it goes well with his blues playing in "Once Upon A Time In The West", it penetrates the bones with the famous steel guitar "National Style O Weathered Steel Resonator" in the song "Romeo And Juliet" and it Electrifies our body as he flirts with the Fender Stratocaster in the song "Sultans of Swing".
The album ends with "Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero" from the soundtrack of the film for which Mark Knopfler wrote the music.
Undoubtedly, the band's peak is still ahead of it, but it is precisely this strange choice to include an excerpt from Mark Knopfler's solo project on the band's live album that probably hints at the beginning of the end of "Dire Straits", while Mark Knopfler declares that he is "Dire Straits" and "Dire Straits" is Mark Knopfler.