Making my way through the “On” songs now, including a stop by the title track to On Every Street by Dire Straits. That album’s been a tricky one for me, a bit more uneven than its multiplatinum predecessor, Brothers in Arms. Rather than strike while the iron was hot, they put out a best-of a few years later, resulting in a six-year gap between original studio albums. It didn’t help that Mark Knopfler had done an album much truer to the beginnings of Dire Straits under another name, the Notting Hillbillies’ Missing…Presumed Having a Good Time, which caught the flavor of the first two Dire Straits albums with a mix of the Tulsa sound, a dash of country-rock, some blues and much more.
So to me, the first time around for On Every Street was probably the same as a lot of other people’s: anticlimactic, a continuation of certain excesses in Brothers without quite hitting the mark (um, so to speak). It struggled to sell platinum – but then, this is the curse of any album following a huge seller. Observe Michael Jackson’s Bad being considered a commercial failure after the mega-numbers of Thriller…even though Bad did quite well out of the box. The problem was that it didn’t sell 20 million copies in a couple of years, basically.
What I’d forgotten was the wonderful title track to On Every Street, a classic example of “don’t judge it on its first few seconds.” The closing section finds the band rotating through a chord sequence that I didn’t quite expect, reminding me that the trail to Mark Knopfler’s solo work really starts in this particularly unappreciated album.