This is the only Dire Straits album not to feature a rhythm guitarist; instead, an added dimension is given to the sound by the addition of Roy Bittan, Bruce Springsteen's pianist. In fact, there were several Springsteen connections to this album: Jimmy Iovine, the producer, was the engineer on Born To Run and the famous riff of "Romeo And Juliet" is a slowed-down version of the piano intro to that album's "Jungleland". A more general connection is the torrent of imagery centred around the romance of the city, most notably on "Skateaway", but also present in the perfectly-rendered teenage angst of hit single "Romeo and Juliet", and the celebratory tale of tawdriness and passion that is "Tunnel Of Love". Mark Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers were fresh from the honour of recording an album with Bob Dylan after he had seen and been impressed by the band playing in LA earlier in the year; but sadly this was to be Withers' last album with Dire Straits, as he left for a career in jazz shortly after. A fine album, the most truly outstanding song is the devastating lovers' lament of "Hand In Hand". Unfortunately it closes on a low note with "Les Boys", Knopfler's faintly embarrassing and uninventive song about the gay scene in Berlin. --James Swift
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