Becker and Fagen dug “Sultans Of Swing” like the rest of us did when this first Dire Straits hit was making hay on the radio in 1979. It was beginning with this song where Mark Knopfler made fancy fingerpicking — by way of Chet Atkins — cool again in rock music. But while songs like this might have convinced ordinary folk like you and I to go catch a Dire Straits concert or two, such dazzling technique inspired Steely Dan to “borrow” Knopfler for a track on their next album. That track is familiar to most, it’s the second hit single from Gaucho “Time Out Of Mind.”
Yet another good groover with drug references, “Time” boasts a killer roster of supporting musicians from David Sanborn to Patti Austin, but perhaps the only one really noticeable is Michael McDonald, the sole backup vocalist in the whole world capable of regularly upstaging the lead vocalist. Oh, and Knopfler? He’s listed as the lead guitarist and you can hear him, too, but he rarely gets out to the front in spite of that “lead guitar” designation. And that’s the problem with what is an otherwise pretty strong outing. They reportedly paid Knopfler a million bucks for his services, why not let him rip it up and not edit it all out? He’s nowhere to be found on the instrumental break, and hard to pick up competing with the horn charts toward fade-out.
“Time Out Of Mind” is a good tune. Mark Knopfler could have made it a great one, had they let him.