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Tributes support rock band Dire Straits’ unabated popularity

THE ASIAN AGE. | PARAG KAMANI
Published : Oct 8, 2018, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Oct 8, 2018, 12:05 am IST

Nothing can take away from the musical gems that the band has left for posterity.

One Night Stand in Mumbai provided a fitting tribute to Dire Straits.
 One Night Stand in Mumbai provided a fitting tribute to Dire Straits.

At a September vinyl listening session at Mumbai’s Adagio, the focus was on 1984’s Grammy-nominated album, ‘Born in the USA’, performed by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band — who I saw perform live as part of the Amnesty International’s ‘Human Rights Now!’ concert held in New Delhi in September 1988. At the listening session, I was provided the album sleeve for a look-see and, while browsing through the names of the band members, I came across the name of Roy Bittan, who I recognised had a connect with Dire Straits, an observation that I shared with a fellow listener. On checking, we found that Bittan had played on the Dire Straits’ ‘Making Movies’ album from 1980. Apparently, Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler’s decision to have the keyboardist play on the album was reportedly influenced by his affection for “Because the Night”, a keyboard-driven song co-written by Springsteen. Knopfler contacted record engineer Jimmy Iovine, who had also worked on Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ albums, for recruiting Bittan on the ‘Making Movies’ sessions.

While one remembers Knopfler’s 2005 ‘Shangri-La’ tour vividly, which covered Dubai [which is where I saw him perform on March 3rd], Mumbai [March 5th] and Bangalore [March 7th], it was replete with songs from Dire Straits’ ‘Brothers In Arms’ album, besides songs from his solo album. However, it was Knopfler’s rendition of “Telegraph Road”, from 1982’s ‘Love Over Gold’, with Dire Straits colleague Guy Fletcher on keyboards that was undoubtedly the highlight. Nevertheless, 2018 remains the year of Dire Straits with the band’s saxophonist, Chris White, who joined the band in 1985 for their two final world tours, and played at their Live Aid concert, touring Gurgaon and Bengaluru in March as part of the ‘Dire Straits Experie-nce’.

In the following month, Dire Straits was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, in Cleveland, with co-founder John Illsley, who co-owns the band’s name with Knopfler, and Guy Fletcher representing the band at the event.

Mumbai managed to get her fill of Dire Straits through local band, One Night Stand, providing an unb-elievably accurate musical tribute to the band on April 26 at the Hard Rock Cafe wi-th remarkab-le guitar work from Sarosh Izedyar on lead guitar, with Padmanabhan providing ideal support on rhyt-hm. Nevertheless, as Mark Knopfler proved this year by not even showing up when his band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Dire Straits is unfortunately never going to reunite. However, that has not prevented past members, including keyboardist Alan Clark, percussionist Danny Cummings, saxophonist Mel Collins, and guitarist Phil Palmer from hitting the road in the U.S. from late September onwards for a tour under the banner of ‘Dire Straits Legacy’.

The group was joined by Tom Petty and The Heartbre-akers’ drummer Steve Ferro-ne, Buggles’ Trevor Horn [also one time member of Yes, and producer for Seal] on bass, along with Marco Caviglia on vocals and Primiano DiBiase on keyboards.

The project grew out of Clark’s previous project, ‘The Straits’, which formed after Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler broke up the band in 1992, after touring to promote their 1991 album, ‘On Every Street’.

So that, for the moment, is the history of Dire Straits and its avatars for the year, but the band’s news is not yet over. End September, fans of Dire Straits were given the chance to invest in the band’s multimillion-selling catalogue. A new investment scheme promoted by Royalty Exchange, a US-based company specialising in trading royalties, launched a scheme that allows individuals, hedge funds, and other entities an opportunity of a share in royalties that are payable every time one of the British rock band’s songs or albums are bought, downloaded, streamed, or played on the radio.

The investment offer has come about because Dire Straits’ long-time former manager Ed Bicknell has sold off his share of the sound recording royalties generated by the band’s back catalogue, along with solo releases from band members Mark Knopfler and John Illsley.

That includes all six studio albums, including ‘Brothers In Arms’, the eighth best-selling album of all time in the U.K., along with music videos, live albums, and any existing or future compilations.

Nevertheless, nothing can take away from the musical gems that the band has left for posterity. In fact, even without the original band in existence, fans continue to have an opportunity of keeping themselves in Dire Straits!

Tags: music, dire straits, chris white