Sourced from the original master tapes and housed in mini-gatefold-LP packaging, Mobile Fidelity's hybrid SACD of On Every Street presents the album like it has always been meant to be experienced: in reference-grade audiophile sound. Recorded at AIR Studios in London and produced by Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler, it features all of the band's sonic hallmarks — wide instrumental separation, visceral textures, seemingly limitless air, broad soundstages, atmospherics that you can almost reach out and feel. Each element is made more vibrant, physical, and lifelike on this collectible reissue.
Afforded full-range dynamics and transparent clarity, the songs from On Every Street burst with nuanced details and vibrant colors. Dire Straits' playing appears to float, their intricate performances organized amid hypnotic, fluid, three-dimensional arrangements. Mobile Fidelity's definitive-sounding SACD also brings into transparent view Knopfler's finely sculpted guitar lines, expressive tones, and laid-back vocals — as well as the balanced accompaniment from his band mates. Here's a record on which you can hear the full blossom and decay of individual notes, and imagine the size and shape of the studio. It is in every regard a demonstration disc. And it happens to be filled with timeless fare.
Remarkably, On Every Street almost never came to light. Dire Straits initially dissolved in September 1988 after touring behind its blockbuster Brothers in Arms and suffering the departure of two members. At the time, Knopfler professed his desire to work on solo material; bassist John Illsley also explored other pursuits. But Knopfler's decision in 1989 to reconvene with the country-leaning Notting Hillbillies side project reignited a spark to reconvene his primary band and craft a fresh batch of songs. Six years removed from Brothers in Arms, Knopfler, Illsley, keyboardist Alan Clark, and keyboardist Guy Fletcher teamed with A-list session pros — steel guitarist Paul Franklin, percussionist Danny Cummings, saxophonist Chris White, guitarist Phil Palmer included — to create what still stands as an unforgettable farewell.
The platinum record brings the band full circle in that it returns Dire Straits to a quartet formation; finds the group refreshingly out of step with the era's prevailing trends; and sees Knopfler and Co. knocking out song after song with the deceptive ease of a punter tossing back a pint at a pub. That subtle cool, clever poise, and innate control — signature traits that no other band ever matched — dominate On Every Street. Knopfler's clean, virtuosic six-string escapades unfurl with dizzying melodicism and economical efficiency. Led by his winding fills and focused solos, Dire Straits traverse a hybrid landscape of rock, jazz, country, boogie, blues, and pop strains with near-faultless prowess.
More than any other entry in the group's oeuvre, On Every Street welcomes quick detours down back alleys and into the depths of human souls. What makes it more brilliant is its staunch refusal to cater to commercial expectations or take advantage of prior successes; every passage feels true, every measure echoed in the service of song. It's evident in the humorous satire of "Heavy Fuel," closeted desperation of the witty "Calling Elvis," and shake-and-bake bounce of "The Bug." It pours from the album's darker corners, as on the high-and-lonesome melancholy of the title track and bruised emotionalism of "When It Comes to You."
Hinting at the open-minded approaches and boundless curiosity he'd embrace as a solo artist, Knopfler doesn't limit himself when it comes to style or subject matter. Look no further than "You and Your Friend," a shuffle whose all-inclusive lyrics encourage an array of interpretative meanings. Another of the album's deep cuts, "Iron Hand," comes on as one of the band's most memorable moments — the narrative addressing the abuses of power at the 1984 Battle of Orgreave during the U.K. miners' strike. Given cinematic heft by the expert production, the true-fiction account puts into perspective the richness, poetry, and depth of On Every Street.
"Every victory has a taste that's bittersweet," sings Knopfler on the title track. At least that bittersweetness seldom sounded so damn good on record.