Picks and Pans Review: Sailing to Philadelphia

updated 09/25/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/25/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Mark Knopfler (Warner Bros.)

Knopfler, 52, is not the bluesiest guitarist of his generation, nor is he the most fiery. He is, however, the most lyrical pop guitar player, a musician with a sense of invention and melody to rival such legends as Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery and even Chet Atkins, Knopfler's sometime duet partner and mentor. So appealing is Knopfler's guitar-playing, in fact, that one is willing to overlook the fact that his singing has deteriorated since his Dire Straits days. Perhaps it's an awareness of his own limitations that led Knopfler to invite such guest vocalists as Van Morrison, Squeeze alumni Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, and James Taylor, whose work on the title track, especially, shines out from its surroundings. Taylor's pungent voice beautifully complements Knopfler's liquid, mellifluous guitar.

Bottom Line: Great guitar, so-so voice

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