Probably no album so far in 1996 has a weightier stamp of muso authority on it than Golden Heart. It's not a mysterious work with amazing twists in personality, surprise, surprise. It's long (70 minutes), comfortable within itself and the songs are never less than meticulously crafted. Of course, normally such music is best placed in a coffin and buried 6ft deep, but there's a sort of perverse pleasure in grappling with the conservatism that fuels it. Look at the list of collaborations which include Sean Keane and Derek Bell of The Chieftains, Guy Fletcher and country dude Vince Gill and wonder seditious thoughts. What would have happened if Knopfler had opted instead to twiddle knobs with Tricky, Goldie or James Lavelle?
But back in the real world, it's business as usual. Watch out for the Later... special this bank holiday. Tour shows are selling out fast. Who needs Radio One? Maybe even new songs like the wistful "A Night in Summer Long Ago" and the swaying ballad "I'm the Fool" will keep audience cries for succulent mid-Eighties Straits classics muted. Will that band ever return? Perhaps during this hectic live stint Knopfler will let slip a reply to this, the question to which we've yet to have a Strait answer.
Mark Knopfler, Aberdeen Capitol Theatre (01224 583141), tonight; Dundee Caird Hall (01382 434941), tomorrowReuse content