Picks and Pans Review: On Every Street

updated 11/18/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/18/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Dire Straits

After Mark Knopfler—the guitar wiz and leader of Dire Straits—proved he could write a hit album for the group with 1985's Brothers in Arms, he walked away from the lure of arena rock. He reinterpreted Appalachian standards as a member of Notting Hillbillies and went Neck & Neck with Chet Atkins on a duet album.

His infatuation with Nashville and environs continues. He's playful on the riding-the-rails rockabilly of "Calling Elvis" and the purposely tacky arrangement of "My Parties." Knonfler's guitar playing is as clean and tasteful as ever. And on "You and Your Friend," he plays steel guitar like he grew up in the Mississippi Delta.

The problem, really, is that the songs themselves lack bite. Many have drawn-out endings that indicate Knopfler wasn't sure where he wanted to go or, worse, didn't have much else to say. He takes on an old, too-easy target, TV evangelists, on the Spanish-flavored "Ticket to Heaven" and on the aforementioned "My Parties" skewers, of all things, boring backyard barbecue hosts. Knopfler's one nod to his Brothers in Arms fans is the utterly noncombustible "Heavy Fuel." On Every Street is a cruel joke to play on them, and it won't win back old fans either. (Warner Bros.)

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