This is an album whose title says it all !! "Love is more important than fortune"!! An album that is a statement of intent!! An album that is all about courage and going with your heart. "Love Over Gold" - Dire Straits' fourth studio album was released on September 20, 1982.
There are five songs on this album. Five tracks, the shortest of which is just under 6 minutes. An album in which the epic opening track spans over 14 minutes and the leading single from it is a short story that spans about 7 minutes.
The days are the early eighties, a decade whose name says it all and can be a stand-alone musical genre, a decade in which "kitsch" and pop were not considered dirty words. A decade that even managed to force huge veteran artists to change and align with the musical style and the colorful appearance.
But exactly then and there, Mark Knopfler chooses to go with his heart and prefers "love for money". In a suicide move (there is no other way to describe it) he releases an album with epic, complex, and long songs with influences of progressive rock.
To understand how bold and dangerous Mark Knopfler's and "Dire Straits" move was, it is enough to mention that at these times, bands like "Genesis" and "Yes" for example did the exact opposite to survive. Under these circumstances, the gamble taken by Knopfler to create a five-track album that opened with a 14-minute epic song was a very dangerous one, which could even threaten the very existence of the band. So the choice of the album title "Love Over Gold" suddenly takes on a strong meaning and kind of A brave statement that resonates even today 40 years later.
But as we shall see immediately, the boldness of Mark Knopfler and "Dire Straits" with the release of this album, turned out to be a successful gamble, which proved that one should always listen to his heart.
"Dire Straits" arrives on this album with a change in lineup. Knopfler, bassist John Illsley, and drummer Pick Withers, are joined by guitarist Hal Lindes, who replaced Mark Knopfler's brother David Knopfler who retired during the previous album's recordings, and keyboardist Alan Clark.
From the first notes of the album, one can distinguish the huge change made by "Dire Straits", from the basic rock that characterized its previous three albums. The "keyboards carpet" welcomes us to the epic work "Telegraph Road", which develops gradually and so magically, with a combination of electric and acoustics, pianos, and keyboards that ends with Mark Knopfler's amazing solo which unfolds over the last five minutes of the song and is pushed forward with the galloping drumming of Withers. Knopfler was inspired to write the song during the band's second tour of America, as he sat in the front of the bus that raced on Telegraph Road, a 70-mile north-south road in Michigan. At the time, Knopfler read the novel "The Growth Of the Soil", by Norwegian author and Nobel prize winner in laureate - Knut Hamsun. He noted that the book simply connected to the road along the way. The song talks about America's progress and development and its negative impact on one person's dream, especially the unemployment it brings with it. We must note that the style in certain parts of the song, the vocals, the combination of the piano and the guitar, and the general idea behind the song reminded us of Bruce Springsteen.
The album continues with the first successful single "Private Investigations", which in our humble opinion is a kind of musical piece that is divided into two parts. The first, includes the singing part, and the second is the instrumental section. The mesmerizing intro to the first segment, puts us in the dark and mysterious atmosphere that accompanies us into the life story of a private, hard-working detective who is fed up with his work. Knopfler's vocal presentation is simply ingenious and stimulates the imagination that sails into the world of the detective. A combination of monotonous recitation and whispering that forces the listener to focus on the story and dedicate themselves to the song, with soft and melodic playing in the background that perfectly combines piano playing and classical guitar. And what a contrast the second section brings with the beating bass of John Illsley, who since the performances in Israel in 1985, we can not listen to it without imagining the stage lights turning on and off in full sync with his bass rhythm. The combination of classical and electric guitar here is among the most beautiful that exists in Rock, when the electric riff at 4:48 of the song sends us a chill that spreads throughout the body, even though almost 40 years have passed since we first heard it.
The other side of the vinyl opens up with the shortest song on the album (5:50) and the second and final single released from it - "Industrial Disease". The song reached number nine on the American Billboard. This is a kind of protest song about the crisis in British industry in the 1980s, unemployment, and the economic downturn. A catchy and bouncy song that without a doubt its style and spirit lines up with the song "Walk Of Life" which the band will release 3 years later on the masterpiece album "Brothers in Arms.
The album continues with the theme song and charming ballad "Love Over Gold" led by Alan Clark's classic and slightly jazzy piano. This song can be seen as the second part in a trilogy, written by Knopfler following the breakup from his girlfriend Holly Vincent, who dumped him over a phone call in the middle of the band's tour in America. In the first part of the trilogy - "Romeo and Juliet" the woman leaves the man, but he still has the hope to return to her, even though she is no longer interested in him. In the song "Love Over Gold," the man loses hope of returning to his loved one and realizes that she used him to advance herself and her career. The third part is the last song on the album - "It Never Rains" it is probably one of the songs with the most blunt and direct lyrics of Knopfler, who closes a circle with his girlfriend, after discovering how fate has avenged her since she left him. The following words from the song perhaps best illustrate things: "And your new Romeo was just a gigolo when he let you down"
It is interesting to note that during the sessions for the album several additional songs were recorded: "Private Dancer" which was recorded in full but eventually Knopfler considered a woman would suit it better so he passed it on to Tina Turner who built an entire comeback album on it, "The Way It Always Starts" which found it's way to the soundtrack of the movie "Local Hero" and "Badges, Posters, Stickers and T-Shirts" which eventually entered the EP "ExtendedancEPlay" which included four songs and was released in 1983.
Despite the band's dangerous gamble, the album was a huge success with its release, reaching number one on the charts in many countries around the world, including Australia, Austria, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK. Those who are not really familiar with "Dire Straits" tend to skip this album, as it does not contain "hits" like the other albums. At the same time, in our humble opinion, this is the band's best album illustrating its versatility and incredible creative ability.