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Mark Knopfler, Gerry Rafferty, Alan Clark, Hal Lindes, Mike Brecker, Neil Jason, Tony Levin, John Illsley, Eddie Gomez, Steve Jordan, Terry Williams, Alan Darby, Roddy Murray, Jimmy Yuill, Mark Winchester, Dale WInchester, Brian Rowan, Ed Bicknell
Guitar, synthesizer, percussion, piano, Hammond organ, saxophone, bass, drums, violin, accordion, whistle
ALL SONGS WRITTEN BY MARK KNOPFLER, except for "The Mist Covered Mountain" which is traditional, arranged by Mark Knopfler
In 1982, Mark Knopfler was commissioned to write the music for the film Local Hero, and it hit the cinemas in 1983. I have not personally seen the film, but the album of the music is incredibly important to me in many ways and for many different reasons. The CD release of the album reached no.14 in the UK charts in April 1983, and it first came out on DVD in 1997. Assuming the information on www.everyhit.com is correct, it surprises me that the single ("Going Home") released from the album, didn't make the UK top 40.
I will do a track by track analysis, and as has now become usual, recommend that those who hate this format for reviewing albums, just skip to the end.
1) THE ROCKS AND THE WATER
This amazing track begins slowly, on synthesizer, and on hearing the gradual rising up on this quiet piece of music, you can almost sense being on a remote and rugged Scottish beach somewhere, yet on a calm day, with the sea gently lapping over wild black rocks....while the sun softly sparkles on the rippling water. This is a short stretch of music that is mesmerising, hypnotic and somewhat "new age" in quality.
2) WILD THEME
This track opens with the main tune from Local Hero played so very very sadly, backed by synthesized soft strings and piano, that it almost makes me reach for the tissue box. There is something so very pensive - almost biting - about this instrumental. Mark and whoever is playing the piano seem to go beyond what words are able to convey here. One of the very saddest - delightfully so - pieces of music I have ever heard, and in a soft, gentle way, it cuts to the very core.
3) FREEWAY FLYER
This begins with a motorbike revving up, then Mark thunders in with a somewhat "cotton-picking" country style guitar. In total contrast to the last track, this is very cheerful-sounding and regardless of whether you like country music or not, it's a great track for belting down the motorway to, clad in leather jackets & boots, with the wind flying through your hair (of course crash helmet laws preclude that - or, at least should!).
4) BOOMTOWN (VARIATION LOUIS' FAVOURITE)
This begins with sax, bass and drums, and is a nice little piece of cool jazz. Even though Mark Knopfler wrote it, it sounds very Gerry Rafferty-ish, and I wonder if he had any influence over the song, yet with the credit going to Mark Knopfler? Just a thought! There's some nice xylophone in the background, which I assume comes under the category of (see above) percussion instruments. The body of the track is warm, cool and sultry....then sort of, towards the end and with a lovely wistful sax taking the lead, turns into something rather emotional and bluesy....very very sad. This last piece of the track feels like walking home through lonely, desolate streets on a cold rainy night - spatters of rain can be seen through the beams of the yellow street lights that shine down on the wet pavements - whilst in an at worst depressed, and at best very poignant mood.
....... 9/10 for the body of the song and 10/10 for the sax bit at the end
5) THE WAY IT ALWAYS STARTS
Gerry Rafferty sings lead vocals on this song, which opens with a couple of guitar chords and an almost gospel-sounding piano. The guitar twiddles into something a bit country-ish, and it's a slow, fairly sad song. It sounds to me like a "crying into your beer" kind of song, where the bar is almost empty and just a few die-hards are hanging around, not wanting to go home to their lonely room with only their memories for company. The song then launches into quite a mainstream pop type of chorus, then we have a middle-eight that is played on synthesizer, piano, drums and guitar. There's also a slight little Spanish influence in there too. I suppose in a way, this song could be said to have a bit of everything? Well, maybe not everything, but lots of things.
6) THE ROCKS AND THE THUNDER
Opening with synthesizer, played at different levels, there is a drama present here....which accurately represents rocks and thunder, two powerful forces of nature - one still and one moving, battling it out in a very short piece of music.
7) THE CEILIDH AND THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Wow! This track begins with the synthesized noise of waves crashing against rocks, and in comes a whistle, and the whole thing gradually (to the main Local Hero tune) just drifts around, dreamlike, into some kind of Celtic world of mist, spinning things, ancient ruins and creatures of the night. There is a deep sadness in it - simply because the Local Hero main tune is sad in itself - but also a sense of positivity. Not having seen the film, I can't align which piece of the film this music is put to or what's going on, but it seems to me to pertain to sleep and dreams....maybe the kind of sleep and dreams that are too good to wake up from and have to face the cold light of day. The track finishes on a little twiddle from the tin whistle, and the sea crashing over the rocks once more.
8) THE MIST COVERED MOUNTAINS
This track is joined to the previous one and begins with the sea crashing over the rocks. A softly played accordion joins in with a very Celtic-sounding (more Scots than Irish or Welsh) slow-ish tune. You can almost see kilt-clad pipers gently and slowly marching on a mist-shrouded hill in the distance to this piece of music. The synthesizer then largely takes over, transporting us into a pretty, rather rolling rendition of the main tune. Like the last, there is something slightly dreamlike about this track, and parts of it (arrangement-wise) are a little reminiscent of Jean Michel-Jarre's "Equinox" album. It ends on a slow accordion solo, with the sea once more crashing over the rocks, fading away into the distance.
9) THE CEILIDH: LOUIS' FAVOURITE/BILLY'S TUNE
Now...to like this track, you have to have a big appreciation of Ceilidh music. I can tolerate it, but it's not my favourite type of Celtic music. This is played on piano, accordion and drums, and is like a Scots jig - ideal for kilted sword dancers (who've maybe had a few beers), and is in two parts. The first part (as described) comes to a close, then segues into the second part, which is a much slower piece of Ceilidh music played on an accordion....probably intended for dancing to, but a far less energetic dance than the first section. It then speeds up slightly, but doesn't really go anywhere mind-blowing, and ends on a final chord.....fading back in slightly, then away again.
10) WHISTLE THEME
Hmmm...this very short track begins with whistle, playing gentle and clear, then in comes Mark softly strumming guitar.....with a gentle sadness, that digs deep, using the main Local Hero tune.
This track is segued from the last, with Mark taking it into a soft and slow - sometimes sad, sometimes quietly happy - maybe a little romantic guitar instrumental backed by a gentle bongo drum and xylophone. If you're familiar with the Dire Straits track "Your Favourite Trick", "Smooching" is very similar in style and arrangement to the middle eight of that song. The first half of this song is a skilfully played piece that I can't say touches any deep bits of me, but is very pleasant to listen to. A soft sax joins in for the second half, and takes it to the end, sad and bluesy, blending with Mark on guitar, and adding a shot of melancholia not present in the earlier part of the song - touching very slightly on the main Local Hero theme.
This begins on a low, single synthesized note....then Hammond organ joins in with more synthesized instrument sounds....getting louder and louder, yet slow, then down a beat to hit a sad spot. The synthesized sounds kind of spiral off into a mystical, perhaps even creepy little tune, before fading away.
13) THE ROCKS AND THE THUNDER
A repeat of no.6 above.
14) GOING HOME: THEME OF THE LOCAL HERO
Ouch ouch ouch!!! This bites into me hard for various reasons which I may or may not be able to explain, but will probably opt for saving you the agony of reading them. The song starts off with a quiet, but spectacular introduction with Mark on guitar backed by synthesized instruments...then in comes a bit of sax...somewhat in the distance, Hammond organ rising up into a huge crescendo - then bang!! It launches into the main theme tune for Local Hero. This is an amazing tune, amazingly arranged and amazingly played. It's happy, sad, wistful, joyful, warm, welcoming - a bit on the noisy side, yet it's almost like a rejoicing kind of noisiness......kinda like maybe not going home, but COMING home! (To me there is a difference). The whole song runs its course, and ends on 3 strummed guitar notes....then silence pervades.
I believe that I heard most of the music from this album during 1982 or 1983, yet wasn't consciously aware of it at the time, for various reasons. It wasn't until 1987 that I paid proper attention to the music from Local Hero, and from then onwards, the whole thing spoke to me using very powerful words and images, touching on all sorts of bits deep down in the "inner me" which I can fall flat on my face trying to express. Part of it is that it makes me feel close to my late father, even though he died six years before the Local Hero film and album were made.
I personally feel this album could appeal to tastes across the spectrum, and unless the only music you like and can listen to is rap/hip-hop, then I'm sure you will find this at least partway pleasing. I and a few of my friends find Local Hero totally mind-blowing, and I'd recommend anybody with an eclectic taste in music, to give it a listen.
The cheapest that I've seen this album for sale in recent weeks, is a copy for sale (CD) with the "buy it now" function priced at £4.00 on EBay, and the most expensive I've seen is in a shop fairly local to me, on DVD for £18.99. Prices from other sources on the internet vary between those two extremes.
Thanks for reading, and I hope the above hasn't been too self-indulgent.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Rocks and the Water - Alan Clark, Mark Knopfler
2 Wild Theme - Alan Clark, Mark Knopfler
3 Freeway Flyer - Mark Knopfler
4 Boomtown [Version] - Mark Knopfler
5 Way It Always Starts - Mark Knopfler
6 Rocks and the Thunder - Alan Clark, Mark Knopfler
7 Ceilidh and the Northern Lights - Mark Knopfler
8 Mist Covered Mountains - Mark Knopfler
9 Ceilidh: Louis' Favourite Billy's Tune - Acetones, Mark Knopfler
10 Whistle Theme - Mark Knopfler
11 Smooching - Mark Knopfler
12 Stargazer - Alan Clark, Mark Knopfler
13 Rocks and the Thunder - Alan Clark, Mark Knopfler
14 Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero) - Mark Knopfle