Some days ago I got the French version of the Dire Straits book by Michael Oldfield. Unlike the English version – which price meanwhile skyrocketed on the used-book market as it seems – I got this one for a couple of Euros on ebay. Nevertheless, I guess it is a clear indicator that you are a crazy MK fan if you buy a book in French and your French is as bad as mine (or better non-existing) 😉
Of course we still can watch all the pictures, and in fact the French version is a bit different than the English one in this respect. With this blog post I will tell you about some striking differences.
First of all I was surprised when the postman handed me the envelope that presumably contained the book: it was so small. The book – at least the edition I have – is just about 13.5 cm x 16 cm (5.3″ x 6.3″). I think there must be different version – I remember I saw a full-sized version in a French book shop years ago (which I then did not buy as I had the English version).I don’t know which size is more common for the French edition, maybe our French friends can give us more insight here (Jean-Francois, are you listening…?)
The book is very handy for this reason but still big enough for comfortable reading.
Next, the layout ( number and position of the pictures in the different chapters) is completely different. The English version has much more pictures, I did not count them all but I feel it has something like 50-100% more pictures. The French version however is from 1985 (the English one from 1984) and includes a few pictures from the Brothers in Arms period. In fact the last chapter is about how Dire Straits’ career continued after 1983, such a chapter is not included in the original English version. The French version has five pictures of a gig in Paris in 1979 which are not included in the English version.
Many pictures have apparently being cropped, both in the French and the English version, which means that you see a bigger part of some pictures in the English version, while other pictures were cropped less in the French version. We already came across this when Jean-Francois told us in a comment that in his French edition you could see a Strat in its guitar stand at the edge of an early Dire Straits picture (one from the Clapham Common gig in 1977) which you can’t see in the English book. Unfortunately none of the pictures revealed any new hints to any gear like guitar floor effects you have never seen on any picture before.
So all in all, if you are another mad DS/MK fan, with these differences it should be easy to convince your wife that you really need to spend a bit of money for a book in alanguage you don’t understand, on the other hand, if you have the English version – which I recommend as a really great book – you are not missing too much.
I recently got an old Dutch magazine called JOEPIE from February 1979 with a two-page story about Dire Straits. It features two pictures that show the band on stage at the Hope & Anchor pub. Dire Straits played there several times in late 1977: on September 10 (in the evening after they played the Clapham Common gig in the afternoon of that same day), on November 4, 11, and 18, and on December 9 (when Eastbound Train was recorded, released as a b-side of the Sultans of Swing single).
It is not possible to tell from which of these gigs the pictures are but I am almost sure that it is not from the one in September (David’s hair is shorter than on the pictures we have from the Clapham Common gig earlier on the same day).
The first picture can also be found in the Dire Straits book by Michael Oldfield (which also features some more pictures of the same gig). It shows Mark with his 1961 Stratocaster, before the guitar was refinished to red. The guitar had a natural wood finish (possibly sealed with clear laquer). By the way, I know that this is the 1961 Strat because of a typical mark in the pickguard at the upper end of the middle pickup. The body does not have a strong attractive grain, like ash bodies normally have. It looks very much like alder which was the standard body wood at that time. Note that David’s guitar also had a natural finish, I strongly assume that both Strats were refinished one year later, about summer 1978, Mark’s to red, David’s to black.
Here is the second picture that shows almost the whole guitar at higher resolution:
Of the few pictures that show the guitar in the original condition this is possibly the best we have. Unfortunately the quality is rather poor so we cannot see too many details of the guitar.In the lower right corner of the picture we probably see a part of an amp. I assume that this is David’s amp, the knobs look like Fender or Music Man. With the help of some imagination 😉 we might see a part of Mark’s Vibrolux amp between Mark and David, there might be the plug of the guitar cable and a few knobs (the Vibrolux has dark brown knobs without a silver center plate), but this might be illusion as well (any other amp than the Vibrolux would be real surprise at this period).
Although Portobelle Belle from Dire Straits’ second album Communiqué was played on so many tours, it seemed that there are no live videos of this song at all. It was played e.g. on each gig of the Love over Gold tour in 1982/3 which ended in the Alchemy live video concert but just this song was not included on the Alchemy video, neither on the original vinyl album or CD, nor on the VHS tape or on the recently reissued DVD/blueray version (an incomplete audio version was included on the greatest hits compilation CD Money for Nothing).
It was just a few weeks ago that I found the following video on youtube which in fact seems to be the only video of this song. It is from the Golden Heart tour, Mark’s first tour as a solo artist after the Dire Straits era. The song “about a long gone Irish girl” was played mainly on the Irish gigs of this tour and Mark was joined by some Irish folk musicians on stage.
From a guitar player’s point of view it is interesting to watch this video because I was never sure whether Mark played the song with his right hand in a fixed position (playing with thumb and two fingers and the right hand resting on the other two fingers) or with his hand swinging freely like he normally does when playing rhythm. Unfortunately the quality of the video is not too good but as it looks Mark used a mish-mash approach of the two styles, playing mainly with thumb and two fingers but moving the whole hand at least on the upbeat strokes.
It is also intersting that this song was played in different keys over the years. Originally in C major it was shifted to D on the On Location tour in 1980/1 (played on different guitars like on a Rickenbacker, see this blog post), then down to Bb on the Lover over Gold tour, and back to C on the On Every Street tour in 1991/2 (compare this video) or here in 1996.