by Liam Cain, 13th August 2018
On the 12th of August Mark Knopfler celebrated his 69th birthday.
On my Facebook feed Sultans of Swing from the Old Grey Whistle Test from 1978 popped up. Here are three things I learned from revisiting this live version. Watch and enjoy the band's playing as they would have been in the pubs at the time.
1) Knopfler's original 1978 live tone was not as clean as I remembered. You can hear the amp breaking up as he plays the chords in the riff. When he solos, not the crystal clear Hank Marvin inspired tone. There seems to be no compressor just natural amp compression from being on the edge of overdrive.
2) He used a tremolo bar. I remember having this recorded on VHS from the Old Grey Whistle Test show archive and didn't remember seeing the tremolo on the strat. Now on Youtube played over again I see and hear it.
3) The solos have extended parts to them that would culminate in the 1983 live alchemy version. It's interesting to see him developing ideas and phrases. Try transcribing the solos for yourself.
I enjoy looking back at artists and seeing how they developed. Remember to check out your hero's development. It can encourage you in your guitar journey.
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