Those early years of Dire Straits are still a very special period for me. 1979 was the time when I first heard the band and became a fan of Knopfler’s guitar style and sound. For this reason I still have a deep interest in any live pictures from this time but more and more I got the impression that I meanwhile have seen most existing pictures from those early years. What a surprise when I found Alan Perry’s website. Alan Perry has been a professional concert photographer since 1975 and you can order all his pictures on his site. There are little preview pictures of all his photos. And he took pictures on two different Dire Straits concerts – from the Empire, Liverpool, June 8, 1979 and the Odeon, Birmingham, June 13, 1979. All in all more than 50 pics of each concert.
Prices seemed reasonable to me – 30 British pence for a standard size photo- so I simply ordered all of them. The quality of the pictures is great. Of course there are always some that are better than others but all in all they all look good.
Unfortunately I could not spot any exciting new details about Knopfler’s equipment yet – no new insight into the effects he used, no picture that revealed details like the amp setting.
Knopfler played his red Fender maple board Stratocaster with the greenish pickguard of his other Strat (see here for more info), the black Thinline Telecaster on Water of Love (more info), and David’s black Strat on Setting me up (more info). The guitars went through the Morley volume pedal (more info) and the MXR analog delay into two Music Man amps (more info).
Last weekend we had guests and one of them had this new photo camera – a Panasonic Lumix FX 37 which costs less than 200,- €. Besides taking great photos you can also record videos in HD quality (1280 x 720 pixels). As I was curious what these look like with my stuff I played Sultans for them and we filmed it. The result is really amazing – much better than that old camcorder I normally use – and this from a small, pocket size camera.
I wanted to check what it looks like on youtube so I uploaded a part of the final Sultans of Swing solo. The audio is of course also recorded with the camera itself (I recorded audio on a special track for the Six Blade Knife cover I did a few days ago).
A few notes on what I am playing here
It is just a mixture of different licks from different live versions plus some improvisation here and there. I played some of those staccato things from the Alchemy version at 0:30 – although it seems noone knows for sure how Knopfler did that exactly. The lick at 0:40 might be similar to one from Wembley 1985, I always liked this one. I am not sure myself about the next one at 0:43 – it was suddenly in my head one day, not sure if I heard it from Knopfler somewhere or not.
The next lick (0:46) is from one of the 1996 versions if I remember correctly.
I messed up the part around 0:57 a bit, I never know when the backing track goes for that bass string lick (I need to build in a small drum fill to identify this part for me).
At 2:00 you will find another example of Knopfler’s 6 chord – a shape he uses quite a lot lately.
The backing track I used – the only one of the ‘long’ version with the piano part in the middle – is available here.
Romeo and Juliet is a song I have been playing on my National for many years, but I never tried to play the wonderful ending of recent live versions where the piano leads through a rather unusual chord sequence. Yesterday I played around with the piano a bit and had a look at this.
After the last verse Romeo and Juliet features a two-chord sequence over which Knopfler plays solo: Bb (or Bbmaj7) and C.
When the drum stops, this sequnce (Bb – C ) is repeated two more times. Next comes a sequence of five chords, the piano is the dominating instrument here:
Bb – Am – G – F (9) – E
Note that Romeo and Juliet is in the key of F, so you would expect a sequence that leads to an F chord. This one however completely ignores the key – the G and especially that last E do not belong here in any way. Thus it functions as a surprising change in the mood of the sound, highlighting the carefully constructed composition. Wonderful.
To hear what I am talking about, check the following youtube video, starting from 8:55 :