Dire Straits is perhaps one of the most acknowledged and famous British pub rock band in the world. Mark Knopfler, as we know him, can play the lead guitar like crazy, and give amazing vocals to any song. His most notable guitar solo is in ‘Sultans of Swing (Alchemy Mix)’. Their other mention-able classics are ‘Money For Nothing’. ‘Walk of Life’, ‘Brothers in Arms’, etc. Today, I will be reviewing perhaps one of their most famous songs to date, ‘Sultans of Swing’. So here goes!
History: “Sultans of Swing” was the first single release of Dire Straits. It was first released in 1978, but unfortunately, it didn’t catch the eye of many. It was re- released in 1979, and that’s when the song skyrocketed them to fame. Their song peaked at number 8 on the UK charts, and number 4 on ‘Billboards hot 100’, i.e the US chart. The solo Mark Knopfler has played in the extended Alchemy version peaked at #22 on Guitar World’s list of the greatest guitar solos and #32 on The Rolling Stone magazines. The most famous version of the song is the 11-minute performance at the 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in London. I will be reviewing THIS version today. There are two versions of this song. The studio version has a duration of 5 minutes and 48 seconds while the ‘extended Alchemy Mix’ has a duration of 10 minutes and 55 seconds. The latter is a hundred times better than the former.
What it tries to convey to us: Nothing actually, it’s just a song by Dire Straits to prove that they’re a cut above the other rock bands, and BOY have they succeeded in proving it!!
Review: I shall be reviewing the Alchemy version of ‘Sultans of Swing’, because personally; I thought it was WAY better than the original one. The guitar solo? Whew!! Can’t express it in words! The song kicks off immediately from 00:00 and the way it starts, you know it’s going to be epic. The drum cover is insane! I will be posting a youtube link (see below) for the live performance, and I know you will be sore in your throat at the end of the song. The piano cover is equally amazing. The vocals Knopfler has given has a I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude that just elates you.The first solo starts at 03:20 and BOY does it rock you! It ends at 04:04, and you reluctantly descend down to earth and into your seat, because the vocals take over again. The audience cheering in the background gives the song a special feel to it. If you listen to this song on a home theater, you’ll surely feel as if you’re one of the people in the crowd. Believe me, the feeling is amazing. Knopfler keeps the tempo of the song alive by executing these short solos, and they completely blow you off! He handles the electric guitar like it’s some frigging bass guitar! Anyways, heaven calling earth, the second solo begins at 04:47, and after 1 minute and 13 breath taking seconds later, the solo gradually dies down, not for another stanza, but to give room for the bridge (It’ll start at 06:00). The piano cover, quirky guitar and rhythmic clapping make it THE best bridge ever. Knopfler starts a guitar loop at 07:21, and then gradually keeps increasing the tempo and the volume of the loop. It’s executed to perfection, and the technique is sheer brilliance. The clapping makes the bridge sound EVEN better. At 08:10, the solo begins again, and… I can’t find any other words to describe it. It has EVERYTHING in it! Highs, lows, shredding, loops, EVERYTHING! As I had mentioned earlier, and will mention it again; the drum cover is INSANE! At 09:50, the solo ends; and the finishing part of the song begins. It’s the typical Who style and Dire Straits style ending formality, with rapid drums and some strings pulled here and there, and a big, final thudu- thum at the ending. You’ll be left with a smile on your face after the song ends, and believe me, YOU WILL HIT REPLAY AGAIN!
Rating: What rating can a common man give to such a God-like performance? Infinity/10 is the answer, but 10/10 is just about legit, so we’ll stick it out with a smack-in-the-center 10/10.. No other words to describe the song!! E-P-I-C!!
Lyrics for ‘Sultans of Swing’ : http://artists.letssingit.com/dire-straits-lyrics-sultans-of-swing-llgkkwc
Download link for ‘Sultans of Swing’ (Alchemy Mix) : http://beemp3.com/download.php?file=18488775&song=Sultans+Of+Swing
Youtube link for ‘Sultans of Swing’ (Alchemy Mix) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pa9x9fZBtY