Title: "Wild West End" (live)
Artist: Dire Straits
Album: Live version available on bootlegs of the August 17, 1985 show in Houston, Texas. Original studio version from Dire Straits, 1978.
Written By: Mark Knopfler
This is a rather unique pick for my list, because this version was never officially released, although it is widely available on a popular bootleg. It was bootlegged so much because the show was broadcast nationally on the radio, so lots of tapes were made. Unlike my previous pick, where the studio version could have stood in at the same spot for the live version I officially picked, that is not so in this case. While I do love the studio version of this song, the live version that I picked takes it to an entirely different level. Is it within the rules for me to pick a bootleg for my list? Sure, I don't see why not. These are the 24 songs, regardless of format or availability.
I've discussed this particular song before, but a refresher. I was present at the creation of this version you can listen to below, as it is from the first concert that I ever attended. Summer night in Houston at the no longer existing Southern Star Amphitheater behind the no longer existing Astroworld. Perfect night, with the amusement park as the backdrop. You can hear the whole show (and many, many other legendary shows from many different artists at the website Wolfgang's Vault. May I also suggest the '78 Springsteen show that will absolutely knock your socks off.)
The track is a beautiful, fairly faithful rendition of the original (with Knopfler playing his national steel guitar) until about 6:25 in where one of the most gorgeous guitar solos ever blows the doors down. Mark Knopfler is my favorite guitarist, but this solo is actually played by the second Dire Straits guitarist at the time, Jack Sonni. Knopfler gave Sonni a solo or two per night on the Brothers in Arms tour, and the dude certainly made the most of this one! It is not particularly complicated or technically challenging, but it is just so right and soars to great heights. What a great first concert, eh?
BELOW: Here is the version that makes #7 on my list, available at Wolfgang's Vault: