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Title: BEST LIVE ROCK PERFORMANCE. EVER. Dire Straits - 'Sultans Of Swing' (Alchemy Live, 1983)
Source: YT, Fender
URL Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pa9x9fZBtY
Published: Jul 23, 1983
Author: Dire Straits
Post Date: 2018-08-31 13:14:27 by Liberator
Keywords: Live, Music, Dire-Straits
Views: 960
Comments: 11

Guitarist/Vocalist Mark Knopfler and his band, Dire Straits performed Sultans of Swing live in London at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on 22–23 July 1983.

Inside the Song: Mark Knopfler's Fingerstyle Mastery on 'Sultans of Swing'

Taking a deep dive into Dire Straits' timeless debut single and its legendary solo.

By Mike Duffy

https://www.fender.com/articles/artists/one-track-mind-mark-knopflers-fingerstyle-mastery-on-sultans-of-swing/

As many accolades as Dire Straits have to their credit, perhaps the Mark Knopfler-led band’s most impressive accomplishment is the fact that their first single was “Sultans of Swing.”

Think about that for a second. The first time that a worldwide audience heard the British rockers was a timeless classic with one of the most iconic guitar solos ever.

Not a bad start.

That solo was a big reason “Sultans of Swing” earned its well-deserved iconic status. At the time of its release, the track as a whole hit No. 8 on the U.K. Singles Chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Decades later, Guitar World placed it at No. 22 on their list of greatest guitar solos, and it sat at No. 32 on Rolling Stone’s solo rankings.

Using his 1961 Stratocaster, Knopfler first breaks off into solo territory with a half-minute of precise scales, comes out of the solo for another verse, and then returns for another 40 seconds of faster, more freewheeling arpeggios that take the song to the next level.

But had Knopfler never picked up his Strat, “Sultans” might have never reached those heights.

The fingerstyle master originally wrote it on a National Steel guitar in an open tuning, he once explained to Guitar World.

“I thought it was dull, but as soon as I bought my first Strat in 1977, the whole thing changed, though the lyrics remained the same,” he said. “It just came alive as soon as I played it on that ’61 Strat—which remained my main guitar for many years and was basically the only thing I played on the first album—and the new chord changes just presented themselves and fell into place.”

“Sultans of Swing” was initially recorded as a demo in 1977 and soon got some play at BBC Radio. A bidding war amongst record labels ensued, and Dire Straits signed a deal with Phonogram Records, who had them re-record it for their eponymous debut 1978 debut album. “Sultans of Swing” was officially released internationally as a single in January of 1979.

The song was bold for the times.

With a Dylan-esque delivery, Knopfler talk-sings about a jazz ensemble he saw performing earnestly in deserted pub; they called themselves the Sultans of Swing. The crowd might not have cared, but they were doing it for the love of the music. Knopfler honors a “Guitar George” who “knows all the chords” and a “Harry” who can play honky tonk like anything.”

The honest lyrics were a departure from the saccharine disco and angsty punk that was so prevalent in the late ‘70s. Knopfler’s clean Strat tone and economic, perfectly timed licks only added to that singularity.

Played live, “Sultans of Swing” regularly takes on new life, as Knopfler elevates the classic solo to lofty highs—the most famous of which is probably an 11-minute epic played with Eric Clapton at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Tribute concert in 1998.

To this day, Knopfler credits his first Stratocaster for inspiring a sound and vibe that would follow him throughout his storied career. Truly, it all started with a Strat and “Sultans of Swing.”

"It’s really a good example of how the music you make is shaped by what you play it on, and is a lesson for young players,” he told Guitar World. “If you feel that you’re not getting enough out of a song, change the instrument—go from an acoustic to an electric or vice versa, or try an open tuning. Do something to shake it up.

"As for the actual solo, it was just more or less what I played every night. It’s just a Fender Twin and the Strat, with its three-way selector switch jammed into a middle position. That gives the song its sound, and I think there were quite a few five-way switches installed as a result of that song.”


Poster Comment:

The above is just some background info on Knopfler and his style (and brand) of guitar (a Fender Stratocaster).

I realize I have posted this particular vid before, but because it is so good, so positive, so special, I thought it worthy of sharing again. With over 117 million views at YouBoob, its obvious many also feel it is something special.

Though the studio version of Sultans of Swing was very good at the time (1979) this specific 1983 live performance was absolutely stunning. Electric. It is... a musical masterpiece. Perfection.

I chose this particular epic LIVE version of Sultans of Swing as THE best live performance ever. (The author alluded to the performance in 1994 with Eric Clapton, as "the most famous" version of the track, simply because it was accompanied by Eric Clapton. But it did not and could not remotely compare with the above 1983 live version.)

REASONS that 1983 LIVE was Light-Years better than the 1994 LIVE version:

MANDELA'S BIRTHDAY. That it was played for THAT stupid reason is enough to ding the Clapton collab just for THAT.

CHEMISTRY. The 1983 lineup of Dire Straits was unique. Drummer (Terry Williams) turned in an other-worldly performance.

LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE. Sometimes it happens. It happened at that particular show.

TIME. 11 years later (by 1994 with Clapton), whomever the band members were, were not going to be able to play it with the same passion and joy. Especially NOT the Drummer.

PRESSURE. Knopfler and Clapton, two Guitar Giants, were going to feel more pressure to meet audience (and each other) expectations far more than just letting it happen (and the joy that goes with that. Frankly neither appeared to enjoy that 1994 performance.)

So... Why? Watch and listen to the epic 1983 performance yourself.

My impression?

It appears all the band members played at peak energy, peak synchronicity, and peak drive. The whirlwind-energy of drummer (Terry Williams) drives the entire song, his band-mates feeding off of it by osmosis. It created a special collective joy or...jubilation. You can see it and feel it. Every member of the band is having as much fun as possible and became conscious of it right from the outset. There's no faking that.

As the track progressed, Knopfler and the rest of the band also appear to be inspiring each other even more, sharing and celebrating more unbridled joy as the song progressed. Knopfler was pretty expressive himself as he noted his band mates into it. You can even see the keyboardist a lull in his parts dancing and jumping around.

I think they realized in real time how truly special a performance this was, that it was..."Lightning In A Bottle". It was palpable. The audience sensed all of it and seemed drawn or invited into the same jubilation.

Sultans Of Swing LIVE, 1983: Something else to behold.

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#1. To: Liberator (#0) (Edited)

Anytime someone posts a "Greatest Anything Ever" screed, they're just asking for arguments. Not from me - can't say it is THE best, but it sure makes the top 5.

Great song and performance - I love the story it tells. You close your eyes while listening and picture it all in your mind. "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot is like that as well.

When the song first came out, I had never heard of it or the band. I was working midnight shift at a 24-hour gas station/convenience store while still in college.

We had a radio, but could only pick up one station and it played nothing but "easy listening".

I don't know how or it happened - maybe the DJ got sick of the grandpa music or something but "Sultans Of Swing" came on, and I was hooked.

One of the bands I was in played this song, we had our own "guitar george, he knows-all the chords". Never got tired of playing it or hearing it.

I'll have to add this version to my playlist.

Thanks

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

In a Cop Culture, the Bill of Rights Doesn’t Amount to Much

If a wall is massive enough and well guarded enough to keep them out, it is also massive enough and well guarded enough to keep you in.

Deckard  posted on  2018-08-31   14:00:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Liberator (#0) (Edited)

Serendipity! Thanks for the reminder this exists - went to watch on YT and did a quick search..... bam!

Snagged a mint Blu-ray of the concert for $9.99 delivered, just listed on eBay. Closest elsewhere is about $20 and up.
I love well-produced BR concert discs; "Stop Making Sense" is our go-to dance disc here and the "Crossroads" BRs are gems.

It's a good Friday so far - thanks!

Hank Rearden  posted on  2018-08-31   14:42:44 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Liberator (#0)

That was truly excellent, thank you for that link.

THIS IS A TAG LINE...Exercising rights is only radical to two people, Tyrants and Slaves. Which are YOU? Our ignorance has driven us into slavery and we do not recognize it.

jeremiad  posted on  2018-09-01   0:28:29 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Deckard (#1)

Anytime someone posts a "Greatest Anything Ever" screed, they're just asking for arguments. Not from me - can't say it is THE best, but it sure makes the top 5.

Yeah, I know. That "Greatest" moniker just begged to be challenged -- especially if LF were a large forum venue. But since this is a pretty closed off forum and we all pretty know each other, I think most of us know this was a subjective statement. (Still...I meant it; Still the greatest LIVE performance of a great song I've ever seen/heard.)

At the same time I'm really...I'm glad you agree with me on its awesomeness. Knowing you're a music-guy, making your "Top 5" is acceptable ;-)

Great song and performance - I love the story it tells. You close your eyes while listening and picture it all in your mind. "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot is like that as well.

It did tick off those boxes of "great" in the context of performance and song. For an artist like Gordon Lightfoot in "Wreck' or Arlo Guthrie in "City of New Orleans, or Al Stewart in "Year of the Cat", or yes, in the the case with Knopfler, to be able to imbue that type of tangible imagery in story-telling is a whole different animal that seems to be extinct. We were blessed to have had quite a few of those kinds of gifted artists, weren't we?

Knopfler and his band here...in this concert for me checked off a box that we rarely see -- a collective passion and synchronicity and fun that got better as the track played on. You could see elevated it to another level yet.

When the song first came out, I had never heard of it or the band. I was working midnight shift at a 24-hour gas station/convenience store while still in college. We had a radio, but could only pick up one station and it played nothing but "easy listening".

I don't know how or it happened - maybe the DJ got sick of the grandpa music or something but "Sultans Of Swing" came on, and I was hooked.

That's a cool thing. Like stepping into a time-machine.

One of the bands I was in played this song, we had our own "guitar george, he knows-all the chords". Never got tired of playing it or hearing it.

Your band actually played this track? It's a real challenge. Especially for guitars, drums and vocals. That guitar player must have been something. (What instrumentals did you play? (Or did you do vocals?)

Glad you appreciated this...

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-02   14:43:56 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Hank Rearden (#2)

Serendipity! Thanks for the reminder this exists - went to watch on YT and did a quick search..... bam!

Snagged a mint Blu-ray of the concert for $9.99 delivered, just listed on eBay. Closest elsewhere is about $20 and up.

THAT is cray-cray! Watched. Listened. Inspired. Conquered!

Think about what a great deal that is...one of the all-time tremendous performances...on Blue-Ray quality. On demand. Sweet.

Another one on the BR barbie...Yeah, we do tend to forget. Glad you enjoyed...and were reminded (All set up now...watching the 'Alchemy' Blu-Ray while chowing down on your latest Napolitan creation ;-)

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-02   14:51:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: jeremiad (#3)

Happy to have shared, glad you appreciated this one.

If you're into it, YT has within the last few month also posted a bunch of older Beatles stuff too. YouTube content is getting even more amazing. Most of this stuff we've never had access to (unless we were aware to begin with, or dug deep and purchased at the time); Especially LIVE performances.

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-02   14:55:37 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: jeremiad, Hank Rearden, Deckard (#6)

Two years later (1985), different guitar player (I believe it's Knopfler's brother) but an addition keyboard player at Wembley...

Still great passion and...again, they're having fun.

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-02   15:00:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Deckard, Hank Rearden, jeremiad, All (#7)

Ok, I'm done posting music vids...

HOWEVER...

I was recommended to check out this cover band as one of the best out there. I was blown away by what they've done. And here I go again: "Best I've see/heard" by cover bands.

They do all the 70s-80s classics like The Eagles, Boston, Foreigner, Huey Lewis, Patty Smyth, etal.

The band is just...having fun..Doing it for...fun! Not even commercially. Now THAT is a great hobby. Very cool. Apparently recruit female vocalists and other musicians to join in. (If someone is impressed and sees what they like, then who knows? Maybe somebody gets a break.

Pretty big operation between the equipment and cameras.

It was hard to just choose any two track because they are all very good, but because Ann Wilson and Heart is so hard to replicate, I thought it as good representation of their work. This vocalist is excellent (as is the one doing Steven Tyler in Aerosmith's 'Dream On')...

Technically, these guys are talented and pretty tight, not for note. Drummer is spot on. According to the band member who posts these YTs, they basically do just 3 live takes, then edit it into what we see...like here.

The sound quality is spectacular...THAT I can guarantee.

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-02   15:20:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Liberator (#4) (Edited)

Your band actually played this track? It's a real challenge. Especially for guitars, drums and vocals. That guitar player must have been something. (What instrumentals did you play? (Or did you do vocals?)

Actually, for me anyways - the bass part is surprisingly easy. Didn't do any vocals on that song. We did have an amazing lead guitarist and drummer.

I posted a link sometime back to some of our original songs (from 1992). I sang the harmonies on some of them.

Avant Garage.

We recorded and mixed the album ourselves at our rehearsal space in Minneapolis using a 1970's Teac 3340 4-Track Reel to Reel Tape Recorder and released it on cassette only.

One of the other bands in our building was The Gear Daddies, a country rock band most famous probably for their "Zamboni" song.

Oh - in case you're interested, I just uploaded a cover of "Don't Worry Baby" by Los Lobos from one of our rehearsals where I sing.

Don't Worry Baby

The guitar solos are pretty cool.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

In a Cop Culture, the Bill of Rights Doesn’t Amount to Much

If a wall is massive enough and well guarded enough to keep them out, it is also massive enough and well guarded enough to keep you in.

Deckard  posted on  2018-09-02   16:37:15 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Deckard, sneakypete (#9)

Thanks for sharing the listen. It was worth it.

'Don't Worry' was a rockin' track. That was a cover of Los Lobos? Reminded me a bit of Link Wray, Stray Cats and Elvis. Really nice job of driving bass through the tune.

Avant Garage wasn't what I expected either, a pleasant surprise. Different style. Got a bit of everything. Including harmonies. The Guitarist(s) are very good.

Your "genre" is indefinable.

We recorded and mixed the album ourselves at our rehearsal space in Minneapolis using a 1970's Teac 3340 4-Track Reel to Reel Tape Recorder and released it on cassette only.

Still sounds clean.

Liberator  posted on  2018-09-03   10:47:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: Liberator (#0)

Brothers in Arms has been an ear wig for me for the last couple of weeks. Yeah,Sultans of Swing was pretty damn impressive,but it just didn't have the depth of Brothers in Arms.

In fact,that album has to rate as one of the best albums every recorded by anybody,including Pink Floyd and Traffic. If you know me,that's saying something.

In the entire history of the world,the only nations that had to build walls to keep their own citizens from leaving were those with leftist governments.

sneakypete  posted on  2018-09-03   16:56:19 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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