Don your kilts

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON May. 16, 2002 


Mark Knopfler
A Shot at Glory
Warner Bros.

The former Dire Straits frontman is at it again. The last half of Mark Knopfler's career has been focused more on soundtracks than rock music with a rootsy feel. A Shot at Glory soundtrack shows that Knopfler's roots go beyond Chet Atkins and early electric blues musicians, but never really strays too far from his home either.

Over half of the album is made up of Scottish folk instrumentals, many of them tinged with blues licks, twangy guitar tones and driving rhythmic patterns. With instrumentation that includes bagpipes, fiddle and a whistle, there's almost enough Scottish influence to make you forget that Knopfler was first a rocker. In fact, the instrumentals are often more effective than the songs with the exception of "All That I Have in the World."

A few of the instrumentals are hard to distinguish from each other and probably function well within the movie, but don't work so well as just an album. Though this is not a new concept for a Mark Knopfler soundtrack, the album does seem to be missing one dimension on a couple of the tracks. The problem here is that Knopfler shifts too often between background music to an album that stands on its own. While I felt just a little bored listening to the disc in my room with little else to do, the meditative mood of the disc was a good compliment to the hills of southern Indiana on my last road trip even if I didn't come cross anyone wearing a kilt.

Though Knopfler's soundtrack sound may not ever stand alone in the way John Williams's music seems to, his music always lends a personal touch that many orchestra or Top 40 bands rarely accomplish with a soundtrack. Certainly his work for "Wag the Dog" was crafted for that movie and that movie only, whereas half of today's movies in a given genre seem to have interchangeable and insignificant soundtracks. I certainly wouldn't ever doubt Knopfler's genius as a soundtrack composer (he wrote the music in "Princess Bride," need I say more?), still A Shot of Glory sounds a bit uneven as an album.


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