Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Dire Straits: Dire Straits [Warner Bros., 1978]
Despite initial misgivings, I've found this thoughtful and sexy. The decisive touch is how Mark Knopfler counterpoints his own vocals on guitar--only a musician with a real structural knack could sound like two people that way. But there's a streak of philistine ideology here that speaks for too many white r&b players these days--most of them can't be bothered articulating it, that's all. In "In the Gallery," an honest sculptor has his bareback rider, coal miner, and skating ballerina rejected by the "trendy boys," "phonies," and "fakes" who (literally) conspire together and "decide who gets the breaks." Those who find this rather simplistic should now ask themselves whether Knopfler's beloved Sultans of Swing--not to mention Dire Straits--have more in common with that sculptor than he suspects. B