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The Ragpicker's Dream

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Throughout his quarter century in the spotlight -- both as a solo artist and with Dire Straits -- Mark Knopfler has consistently tried to, as he puts it, "find the musical connection between the Delta and the Tyne." That blend of exploratory blues playing and British traditionalism imbues The Ragpicker's Dream, his third proper solo album, with a heady, but never overly heavy, atmosphere. Knopfler's dry humor is in full effect on songs such as "Devil Baby," which casts a jaundiced eye on the world according to Jerry Springer, and "Coyote," a little ditty that the guitarist says was inspired by watching Road Runner cartoons with his kids. While Knopfler doesn't spend ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Throughout his quarter century in the spotlight -- both as a solo artist and with Dire Straits -- Mark Knopfler has consistently tried to, as he puts it, "find the musical connection between the Delta and the Tyne." That blend of exploratory blues playing and British traditionalism imbues The Ragpicker's Dream, his third proper solo album, with a heady, but never overly heavy, atmosphere. Knopfler's dry humor is in full effect on songs such as "Devil Baby," which casts a jaundiced eye on the world according to Jerry Springer, and "Coyote," a little ditty that the guitarist says was inspired by watching Road Runner cartoons with his kids. While Knopfler doesn't spend much time weaving the electric guitar mesh that's snagged many a fan over the years, he does coax considerable color from his acoustic on bucolic tunes such as "Fare Thee Well Northumberland," on which he gets able support from multi-instrumentalist Richard Bennett's bouzouki. Knopfler's other bandmates make their presence known as well: Glenn Duncan daubs "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" with high-lonesome fiddle, and Paul Franklin contributes doleful pedal steel to "Hill Farmer Blues," the song that's the most overtly redolent of the hill country that Knopfler has long used for inspiration. But in the end, The Ragpicker's Dream is clearly Mark Knopfler's reverie -- realized in vivid tones that should warm the heart of anyone looking for a bit of aural uplift.
All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
With his second post-millennium album in just two years, Mark Knopfler has already equaled his meager non-soundtrack output for the '90s. And while he isn't reinventing himself, The Ragpicker's Dream is a pleasant, classy, often inspired effort whose unassuming charms are best appreciated after repeated listenings. The memorable riffage that fueled Dire Straits' most radio-friendly material has been discarded for a more pastoral approach, making this a perfect album for a rainy Sunday morning. Like his Notting Hillbillies side project, it isn't entirely unplugged, yet there is an emphasis on acoustic accompaniment to its predominantly ballad slant. Instead of leaving space for traditional soloing, Knopfler weaves his snake-like guitar between the words. This infuses a tense, edgy quality in even the most bucolic tracks, resulting in the crackling but still low-boil atmospherics of "Hill Farmer's Blues" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland." "Marbletown" is an unaccompanied folk/blues that sounds as if Knopfler was born and raised in the Mississippi backwoods. He taps into the patented insistent lazy, shuffling groove on the spooky "You Don't Know You're Born." It's the most Straits-like track here featuring an extended, winding, yet subtle solo. "Coyote," a mid-tempo sizzler -- lyrically based on the Road Runner cartoons -- is propelled by a walking bass figure and Knopfler's homey, lived-in, talk-sung vocals. Again, the guitar pyrotechnics are interspersed throughout the verses with overdubbed sounds employed to provide ambiance and mood. The authentic honky tonk swing of "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" could have come off a Wayne Hancock album, and the "King of the Road" melody from "Quality Shoe" is a tribute to Roger Miller. As an homage to the American roots music he's always admired and a desire to retreat further from the stadium rock of his Straits days, The Ragpicker's Dream is a restrained success, at least on its own terms. It may not please some of Knopfler's old "Money for Nothing" fans, but at this stage, he's obviously not trying to.
Rolling Stone - Ernesto Lechner
[Knopfler's] Zen attitude, ironically, is what makes this unassuming batch of gentle tunes so oddly compelling.

[Knopfler's] Zen attitude, ironically, is what makes this unassuming batch of gentle tunes so oddly compelling.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/1/2002
  • Label: Warner Bros / Wea
  • UPC: 093624831822
  • Catalog Number: 48318
  • Sales rank: 3,090

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Mark Knopfler Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Jimmy Nail Background Vocals
Glen Duncan Violin
Richard Bennett Guitar
Jim Cox Piano, Hammond Organ
Chad Cromwell Drums
Guy Fletcher Keyboards, Background Vocals
Paul Franklin Pedal Steel Guitar
Glenn Worf Bass
Tim Healy Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Tony Cousins Mastering
Mark Knopfler Producer
Stephen Walker Art Direction
Chuck Ainlay Producer, Engineer
Elliot Erwitt Cover Photo
Neil Kellerhouse Art Direction
Jake Jackson Engineer
John Saylor Engineer
Jon Bailey Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Meter your expectations

    If you were looking for a follow-up to "Sailing to Philadelphia," don't come rushing for this. Rather, it's more of a companion piece to the Notting Hillbillies' "Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time." The melodies are simple and traditional, drawn from bluegrass, rockabilly, and blues, and there's no hard-driving hook to be found. Knopfler's voice (backed by fellow Hillbilly Steve Phillips) is the real star of the album.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Mark's flame is still burning ...

    Good album, worth including in your M.K. collection. Although more guitar work is always welcome from Mark (maybe he left it for he's live versions, hurrah), these are fine songs you'll enjoy as much as anything he writes. Superb mixture of sounds (from surf guitar to blues to jazzy to ... yes, 'trumpet playing band'), impeccable delivery ... Thanks Mark!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Knopfler's best work in years

    Mark Knopfler's new album "The Ragpicker's Dream" has not been off my CD player since I got it last week -- it's that good. You may think of the former Dire Straits frontman as a rock star and hot-shot electric guitarist, but he's much more than that. Here he delves deep into his Geordie roots, as well as classic American styles, and rolls it all together with keenly observed song lyrics and his impeccably tasteful (mostly acoustic) guitar playing. Knopfler has always been a wonderful storyteller (remember "Romeo and Juliet", "Sultans of Swing" and "Telegraph Road"?), and he's pared down his epic style to what you might call short stories or vignettes, which are told with incredible efficiency and emotional impact. He takes us into the minds of Newcastle expatriates working in Germany on "Why Aye Man" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland" (the latter sung to a variant of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger"); of circus freaks (the John Prine-ish "Devil Baby", complete with a dig at Jerry Springer), a cuckolded redneck ("Hill Farmer's Blues"), a Pennies-from-Heaven-type traveling salesman ("Quality Shoe"), a rail-riding hobo ("Marbletown" and "Old Pigweed") and even the cartoon Roadrunner ("Coyote" -- sample lyric: "It must be hard having dog dreams/ That never come true/ And don't you just wish you could/ Make half the speed I do"). Knopfler even throws in a Jacques Brel-type chanson in "A Place Where We Used To Live" and a Dickensian Christmas story in the title song "Ragpicker's Dream". The scope of his musicality is immense, and all delivered with his trademark laid-back drawl and gorgeous fingerpicking, backed with a light touch by a small ensemble including piano, pedal steel, and harmonica. If you were (as I was) a bit disappointed in his previous effort "Sailing to Philadelphia", you owe it to yourself to check out this album. I could not recommend it any more highly. It's a great folk album!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews