Picks and Pans Review: Lips Against the Steel

updated 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

David Knopfler

"It was a good stepping-stone, but it wasn't what I saw myself doing in 10 years," Knopfler has said of his three-year stint as Dire Straits' co-founder. Since he left the group in 1980, before older brother Mark and company hit pay dirt with Brothers in Arms, Knopfler could be forgiven for devoting his time to kicking himself. To his credit, David has persevered, trying to make his own imprint. That he fails on his fourth LP (the first available in the U.S.) is due largely to a pedestrian approach that makes him sound like a poor man's Dire Straits. Knopfler sings in the same whispered, Dylanesque tone as Mark, which doesn't discourage comparison. He calls on a chorus of background vocalists to inject feeling into the listless songs, but the melodies just hang there. In brighter moments, the music takes on the smoky resonance of Dire Straits' first record and conjures up images of dark corners in a languid section of London. But that feeling is shortlived. The album more often inspires the thought that David may be in more dire straits now than he used to be. (Cypress)

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