Mark Knopfler – Local Hero

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  • A KILLER Warner Brothers pressing of Knopfler’s 1983 soundtrack album, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one
  • This one is doing everything right– it’s bigger, bolder, richer and more clean, clear and open than anything else we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler’s intricate, introspective finger-picked guitar stylings make a perfect musical complement to the wistful tone of Bill Forsyth’s comedy film, Local Hero… The low-key music picks up traces of Scottish music, but most of it just sounds like Dire Straits doing instrumentals, especially the recurring theme, one of Knopfler’s more memorable melodies.”

This vintage Warner Brothers pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Knopfler, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these 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 even as late as 1983
  • 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 Local Hero

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Rocks & The Water
Wild Theme
Freeway Flyer
Boomtown (Variation Louis’ Favourite)
The Way It Always Starts
The Rocks & The Thunder
The Ceilidh & The Northern Lights

Side Two

The Mist Covered Mountains
The Ceilidh: Louis Favourite – Billy’s Tune
Whistle Theme
Smooching
Stargazer
The Rocks & The Thunder
Going Home: Theme Of The Local Hero

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler’s intricate, introspective finger-picked guitar stylings make a perfect musical complement to the wistful tone of Bill Forsyth’s comedy film, Local Hero. This album was billed as a Knopfler solo album rather than an original soundtrack album, with the notation “music … for the film.”

Knopfler brings along Dire Straits associates Alan Clark (keyboards) and John Illsley (bass), plus session aces like saxophonist Mike Brecker, vibes player Mike Mainieri, and drummers Steve Jordan and Terry Williams. The low-key music picks up traces of Scottish music, but most of it just sounds like Dire Straits doing instrumentals, especially the recurring theme, one of Knopfler’s more memorable melodies. Gerry Rafferty (remember him from “Baker Street”?) sings the one vocal selection, “That’s the Way It Always Starts.”

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