Dire Straits – Communique

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Forget the dubby domestic pressings and whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – the UK LPs are the only way to fly on Communique. If you’re a fan of the band’s debut release, you’ll find much to like on this underappreciated follow up.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage late-’70s analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. 

This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.

What the best sides of Communique from 1979 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Communique

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Rave Review

…an album full of the delicate subtleties that make Mark Knopfler shimmer — that deep tobacco-soaked voice, the quick, fluid guitar, and the wit behind many of his lyrics.

Knopfler possesses the too-often-ignored ability to understate just the right elements and come out with something that knocks attentive listeners on their asses. It’s a gift that has never been overly abundant in popular music, but when it’s discovered, it’s a rich, abundant source of beauty. Dire Straits’ Communiqué is precisely that kind of album. It has the reputation of being one of the lesser Dire Straits offerings, and yet, it seems, for the right listeners, this album ascends to the status of “favorite.” I may start considering myself one of those listeners.

Tom Johnson, somethingelsereviews.com

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Once upon a Time in the West 
News
Where Do You Think You’re Going?
Communiqué

Side Two

Lady Writer
Angel of Mercy
Portobello Belle
Single-Handed Sailor
Follow Me Home