I had never really listened to this LP beyond the limited air play a few of the cuts received and decided to take an adventure.
This record is often discussed in Dire Straits circles as well as in audiophile circles, and as the cover telegraphs, it is a bit of a lighting rod. Heralded by some as the high watermark of Knopfler’s output with Dire Straits and not so warmly received in other circles.
It certainly is a departure from the initial Dire Straits releases, something I usually look forward to with the artists I really love. It’s part of a journey you take with someone, or perhaps a journey they take with you, either way when everybody’s on the same page it’s symbiotic and it’s awesome. This unfortunately is not the case for me here. I don’t care much for this journey .
The album strives from the outset to deliver an historical opus that is something of a Dos Pasos nod, intended or not. The problem I find is that it meanders, and not in a good casual-stroll kind of way. In more like a “shit, I got up late and now I’ve wasted the whole day just milling about my house.Fuuuck!” kind of way. Very Sunday.
There is of course great guitar work here and it is presented in a great manner sonically, especially in the acoustic passages, but that alone can’t save it. David Fricke in his generally positive assessment of the record said it was a ” challenge to the average pop fan’s attention span,” well call me the average pop fan then. I am down with 14 minute indulgences and I am also down with artists making grand or overblown choices, hell I have been an Axl apologist over the same issue in debates past. I’m not taking issue with the length, to me the songs, and by extension, the story is just not compelling.
Some people consider this first side a masterwork and I may get people riled up over my take on things but I don’t like it. So much so I am questioning why I even own it. I’ve had it for some time but never really delved into it truly and fairly until now.
Side two employs too much like the Walk -of-life-carnival-style Straits sound (industrial disease) and those aren’t songs I particularly like. I guess I prefer my Straits in a slower tempo and/or a minor key on the whole.
Love Over Gold is a great sounding record in the moments that I like it. In fact I believe the reason I own it in the first place was because it is always held up as a must listen from a recording standpoint on audio forums. I have an original German pressing that sounds very good but uses digital mastering so I am sure some will says this reason is why I was unable to enjoy the LP to its fullest, but the truth is, I just don’t like the material sufficiently. This is disappointing because I love Dire Straits catalog overall as well as some Knopfler solo material.
It has it’s moments, most obviously where there is standout guitar work, but overall the experience left me headphone harshed and that’s a bummer.