Dire Straits – another biggie, in fact , they are the eighth biggest selling artists in UK so far. Like nearly everyone, I was hooked from the start; that wonderful soft guitar sound and just as wonderful is Mark Knopfler’s voice. The band appeared almost fully-formed – but it was all about Mark, who wrote almost all the songs too. Debut album Dire Straits (1978) was a big hit, especially with hit single ‘Sultans of Swing’ on it. And yet this was only two years after punk, which had threatened to sweep away all that wishy-washy lovey-dovey stuff – well, Dire Straits soon proved them wrong. A lovely album – best songs ‘Sultans’ and ‘Down to the Waterline’ and ‘Wild West End’. The follow-up Communique the following year was even better; the songs are just wonderful – favourites ‘Lady Writer’. ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ and the closer ‘Where Do You Think You’re Going?’. Mark seemed perfectly at home singing soulful ballads as rocking out. Next year and Making Movies was released; another excellent record. Great single ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but also ‘Tunnel of Love’ and ‘Les Boys’ – but again not a poor song on it. And they just kept getting better really, if slowing down on the albums, they were touring extensively – joining the rock elite as one of the latest really Big Bands. In 1982 they released Love Over Gold, which at the time I thought could simply not get any better. The superb 14 minute long opening track ‘Telegraph Road’ and ‘Private Investigations’ and rocking out on ‘Industrial Disease’. A triumph of an album.
But the best was yet to come. Three years later and one of the finest albums ever, emerged – Brothers In Arms. If it took three years it was well worth the wait. This album just happened to coincide with the success of CDs themselves, and it soon became the biggest selling disc on that format and has sold many millions since. And deservedly so – it is one of a very few must-have albums, the Eighties equivalent of Tapestry or Sergeant Pepper. There is not a weak song on it, and such a variety. The sheer pop of ‘Walk of Life’, the brilliant satire and rockiness of ‘Money For Nothing’ and the sadness, the empathy of ‘Brothers in Arms’ itself. Even minor tracks like ‘Why Worry’ are great. A faultless record. And of course the brilliant video for ‘Money For Nothing’ which seemed to be playing endlessly on MTV – and an appearance at Live Aid with Sting made that song (and it’s sentiment) almost the anthem of the Eighties – Thatcherism indeed, even if the song is satire of the first order.
Well, the band sort-of broke up for about five years while Mark went off and pursued other ides (see K). They reformed in the early 90’s and had one more studio album, the slightly underwhelming ‘On Every Street’. And almost universally it was seen as a disappointment, mind you after Brothers in Arms anything would be. It isn’t a bad record – just unexciting. In many ways I think Knopfler was quite content to draw the curtain and continue on his solo noodlings (see K). I also have the obligatory couple of Greatest Hits – Money for Nothing and Private Investigations, which latter does include some of Mark’s later solo work. After just a year on the road Dire Straits sort of disbanded, although they have made rare appearances here and there. Never say never….