Tracks from acclaimed singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Knopfler's most rocking album since his halcyon days in Dire Straits are rock solid on the EP Live From Shangri-La. The EP features eight songs recorded live at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, CA, by the mulitple Grammy winner who has sold more than 110 million albums worldwide. Knopfler's signature guitar sound, instantly recognizable vocals and smart lyrics have made him one of rock's most admired artists. Warner. 2005.
Eschewing much of the stardust that the worldwide success of Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms virtually guaranteed him, Mark Knopfler's belated and halting solo career since has often seemed willfully spectral, if ever driven by a quietly intense musical restlessness. Taking "Rudiger" from his '96 solo debut and seven core tracks from his savory, thematically eclectic '04 collection, Shangri-La, Knopfler returned to the Malibu studio of the same name to forge these more focused, nigh-perfect live renditions with his bandmates. The intimate setting offers added poignancy to "The Trawlerman's Song" and casts "Back to Tupelo" in bluesier, more supple tones, while "Song For Sonny Liston" bristles with grittier energy. Fans of Knopfler's fluid, expressive guitar technique will find much to admire as well, from the sprightly, country-fied chicken-pickin' of "Donegan's Gone" to the tasteful, economic soloing on "Boom, Like That" and "Everybody Pays." But, as on the album that inspired this EP, the real star here is Knopfler the songwriter--an artist whose choice in themes and subtle wordplay has become the equal of his compelling fretwork. --Jerry McCulley