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Reviews: Mark Knopfler: Shangri-La

Reviews: 11

Review by kerrin October 26, 2004 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I am a fan of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits.

I have seen him and them live a number of times.
I have all his recordings. Quite often the compression of CD tends to cause problems on the extremes of his music.

I was hoping with this reording on SACD that I would get his playing in all his glory - I was not disappointed.

Very good music - probably his best for some time - there is something about his guitar playing - possibly because he does not use a plectrum and the guitar music is an integral part of each song.

highly recommended

Music 5 stars and recording 5 stars

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Review by PaulHoncoop January 24, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Mark is back after his little boring Ragpickers dream album. His new in America!! recorded album Shangri La sounds good. Some tracks have an American swung and remind me at J.J. Cale music.
Shangri La is not Mark's best album, but this sacd multichannel experience lift this record up to a higher level. For the firdt time you can hear Mark in 5.1 (dvd's from Dire Straits and Mark solo are all in stereo). The sacd multichannel mix is splendid!
The bass and treble are equal, so you don't have to set these when listening to the whole record.
Multichannel version sounds rich and warm, meanwhile it's lovely to hear Mark's guitarplaying/music from different corners.
Mark is a great performer. Shangri La is a great record. This multichannel sacd is great. What more do you want? I know; all Dire Straits records on mc sacd sounded like this one. Just keep on wishing
and maybe.....

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Review by DeSelby January 29, 2005 (3 of 10 found this review helpful)
Sonics:
stereo sonics: Knopfler-music in perfect sacd-sound. Hope they will make such great sacds especially of the early Dire Straits records.
May be...

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Review by sgb July 12, 2005 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Finally, a digital recording that does justice to Mark's uniquely provocative voice!

As are many other audiophiles, I've been enamored with the music of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler for many years. Perhaps unlike others, though, I most appreciate the lyrics of the great introspective tunes, such as the loss of innocence in "Telegraph Road" from Love Over Gold, the angst in relationships he expresses in "You And Your Friends" from On Every Street, or his stinging indictment of Man as the most uncivilized of beasts in "One World" from the group's biggest seller, Brothers In Arms. There's an association with other great songwriters of this ilk such as Dylan, Paul Simon and Jim Morrison that I draw from tunes such as these that places Knopfler clearly atop my list of the best our generation can provide. Shangri-La is equally as intriguing as these prior albums, but the title might suggest some resignation, on the artist's part, that things aren't going to be changing any time soon: The world is OUR Shangri-La, he tells us, and we must make the best of it.

For years I've been irritated by the sound of Knopfler's voice on CDs. Nearly every system on which I've heard any of his recordings adds a subtle edge to the top of his voice that grates on me to the point that I cannot listen to any of the albums in their entirety. Even on the highly doctored SA-CD version of Brothers In Arms, that nuisance is still there; and this despite the intentional midrange reticence the engineers snuck in to enhance the, overall, poor qualities of the recording. Ah, but Shangri-La is different. The recording quality is world-class (even on the PCM layer sorry), lending a reality to the sound of Knopfler's voice that only Making Movies on vinyl from the back catalogue can approach. It's all there in one of the most palpable, transparent and natural sounding pop digital albums I've ever heard.

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Review by Myrantz October 5, 2005 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Wonderful! Even with 3 tracks I don't listen to (those celtic numbers) this still gets top marks. Knopflers voice gets better with age - so does his song writing it seems.

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Review by Dan Popp July 20, 2006 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
More of the same from the ironic, sardonic and laconic Mark Knopfler - but in this case, more is good. I admit that I expected a little more because of all the 5-star reviews, and was initially a little disappointed. I think there is a phenomenon that causes those listening in MC to spill-over stars from their sonic impressions into their marks for the material itself. Since I'm listening in stereo, my review will focus more on the songs and their execution.

Make no mistake, the stereo sonics are quite good. Mark sounds like he's singing and strumming in your living room - which is not entirely as it should be, in my opinion. The mix is a little odd; the bass guitar seems 2 notches too hot throughout, and the vocal seems to float above the track, rather than mixing into it, as well. Combined with the relatively sparse arrangements, this gives "Shangri-La" an 'intimate' feeling. The downside is that this mix makes the rhythmic support seem a little weak, and therefore the more uptempo songs don't have the force and punch I might expect.

The songs are quiet gems of reflection on the human condition. Knopfler's wry wit that brought us "Money For Nothing," "Ticket to Heaven" and "Heavy Fuel" is still distilling human souls and putting them on display. From the snake-oil salesman's sidekick in "Stand-Up Guy," to the retired extortioners sending "Postcards from Paraguay," MK gives voice to men bravely struggling to supress the conscious recognition of their own fallenness. He sends them up, but not in a mean-spirited way. There's a touch of, if not respect, then at least affection, for his subjects. This makes the roast palatable instead of bitter.

As well done as it is, there does come a feeling of "sameness" after awhile.

In fact, when Knopfler sings of children and love as "All that Matters," you may at first be puzzled as to whether you're hearing the voice of just another twisted personality (a parent who idolizes his offspring), or whether he's finally singing it straight. An occupational hazard of the satirist, I suppose.

The melodies are simple, evoking to me classic folk songs, though the chord structure is darker and the lyrics are more subtle. The musicianship is top-notch, as expected. Knopler's voice is serviceable to the way he tells the tale. And the characters are cleanly etched - though not, of course, clean.

If it weren't for the questionable stereo mix, and a little too little energy overall, this would rate 5 stars in my book, too. Not his 'best yet,' but worth many listens.

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Review by Lee Scoggins April 3, 2009 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Great music and sonics. A favorite.

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Review by fredblue May 19, 2009 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Well, what a pleasant surprise!

I am not a fan or follower of Mr. Knopfler by any stretch of the imagination and to be perfectly honest I could never really stomach much of Dire Straits' musical output.

However, in my desperation to find anything pop/rock on SACD M/C I picked this up only a couple of weeks ago (April 2009.. bit late to the party, I guess? Better late than never though, eh!?)... Imagine my joy when I discovered how wonderful this album is!

The 5.1 mix isn't as noteworthy as the contents but this is a very nicely recorded album and the mix is pleasant with some discrete moments but not one to "WOW" your friends. I'd suggest "Brothers in Arms" for that if you're into Knopfler or DS, for while it's surround mix is superior, it's sonics themselves are not quite as good as this disc, to my ears at any rate.

What is clear is the musicianship and songwriting on this album are first rate from beginning to end. I'd most certainly recommend it for the songs themselves alone, many of which are superb. I even like Knopfler's voice on this one (!) and his guitar playing is immaculate here, that goes without saying!

As an M/C SACD it is above average, so really it's not a hard decision to buy this one, as starved as we are for "modern" rock/pop SACD M/C releases...

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Review by progboy April 8, 2012 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have been a fan of The Dire Straits and the mighty Mark Knopfler for a long time now and I never grow tired of his voice or his guitar. Shangri-La is a low key, very quaint album that will take you several listens before you really get it....or at least it did for me. This album is a whole less obvious and much less pronounced than some of his other solo albums but that is what makes this album so special. The first 2 tracks are stunning examples of how the SACD format can bring out the very best on albums in terms of sound and depth.
This is sonically a very good SACD and offers great depth and the sound quality is superb with some great vocals, song writing and guitar work from Mr. Knopfler.

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Review by Techno-Crit January 15, 2014 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
THIS is not your fathers Dire Straits....This is Mark Knophler on his own and showing a very interesting side to his performance catalog ,but this review is about the SACD itself and not about whether or not you like Mark .
I am aware that this disk has been on the market for quite a while but I only recently added it to my collection and am very glad that I did. The sonic quality and the engineering is just first rate and yes I tend to be hard to please. My expectations on this disk wasn't very high because 1. the reviews were pretty well mixed and 2. The price was very reasonable . This is two things that usually spells doom for a sacd. I was very pleased with the stereo renditions on this disk but since I haven't yet stepped on the 5.1 surround path to madness I can't speak to that aspect of the disk.
In summation if what you are interested in is quality reproductiion of a very good blues/pop performance then I would highly reccomend this disk.

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Review by Marpow February 8, 2015 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Mark Knopfler: Shangri-La Hybrid stereo and multi channel disc.

I have the added benefit of 10 reviews before me, ranging from 2004 to 2014. 97 of 101 recommend this disc. I like reading the old reviews as you get to read familiar and unfamiliar participants of SACD.net.

Knopfler's 4th solo studio release in 2004. Shangri-La comes from the Shangri-La recording studios, Malibu CA.

Performance: Very subtle and consistent. I listened and put me in a very relaxed place. I was thinking as I loaded disc that there would be some tunes that would be soft, medium and hard, but the performance and play throughout this disc is very even, no highs, no lows. All very comfortable and enjoyable in tone

Stereo Sonics: I did not listen to in stereo.

Multi Channel Sonics: Super good. Very clear and subtle. Nice movement between speakers but not swirling and fancy. The sound stage is opened very large and I do not feel the need to play loud as the performance does not warrant that and the mch sonics are adequate at medium volume. As another reviewer said this is not a WOW disc but a very pleasing and a great disc to kind of trick your guests.
Put this disc in at a cocktail party, don't say anything about it, and I guarantee your guests will say, " this sounds great, who/what is it?"

Packaging: Plastic jewel case with rounded corners. Mini paper booklet with all lyrics, no photos, credits that include all personal and recording notes.

The person that originally submitted this disc to SACD.net did a great job with a lot of info.

I am very happy to own this great sounding disc.

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