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Dire Straits

Dire Straits emerged during the post-punk era of the late '70s, and while their sound was minimalistic and stripped down, they owed little to punk. If anything, the band was a direct outgrowth of the roots revivalism of pub rock, but where pub rock celebrated good times, Dire Straits were melancholy. Led by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler, the group built their sound upon the laid-back blues-rock of J.J. Cale, but they also had jazz and country inflections, occasionally dipping into the epic song structures of progressive rock. The band's music was offset by Knopfler's lyrics, which approximated the winding, stream-of-conscious narratives of Bob Dylan. As their career progressed, Dire Straits became more refined and their new maturity happened to coincide with the rise of MTV and the compact disc. These two musical revolutions from the mid-'80s helped make Dire Straits' sixth album, Brothers in Arms, an international blockbuster. The band -- along with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Steve Winwood -- become one of the leaders of a group of self-consciously mature veteran rock & rollers in the late '80s that designed their music to appeal to aging baby boomers. Despite the band's international success, they couldn't sustain their stardom, waiting a full six years to deliver a follow-up to Brothers in Arms, by which time their audience had shrunk significantly.

Knopfler (born August 12, 1949) was always the main force behind Dire Straits. The son of an architect, Knopfler studied English literature at Leeds University and worked briefly as a rock critic for the Yorkshire Evening Post while at college. He began teaching English after his graduation, leading a pub rock band called Brewer's Droop at night. By 1977, Mark was playing with his brother David (guitar) and his roommate John Illsley (bass). During the summer of 1977, the trio cut a demo with drummer Pick Withers. A London DJ named Charlie Gillett heard the demo and began playing "Sultans of Swing" on his BBC show Honky Tonkin'. Following a tour opening for Talking Heads, the band began recording their debut for Vertigo Records with producer Muff Winwood in early 1978. By the summer, they had signed with Warner in America, releasing their eponymous debut in the fall. Thanks to the Top Ten hit "Sultans of Swing," Dire Straits was a major success in both Britain and America, with the single and album climbing into the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dire Straits established Dire Straits as a major force on album-oriented radio in America, and their second album, Communique (1979), consolidated their audience, selling three million copies worldwide. As the group was recording its third album, David Knopfler left the band to pursue a solo career; he was replaced by former Darling member Hal Lindes. Like its predecessor, Making Movies was a sizable hit in America and Britain, even though the band was criticized for musically treading water. Nevertheless, the record went gold on the strength of the radio and MTV hits "Romeo and Juliet" and "Skateaway." Dire Straits followed the album two years later with Love Over Gold, an album filled with long, experimental passages, plus the single "Private Investigations," which became a number two hit in the U.K. The album went gold in America and spent four weeks at number one in Britain. Shortly after the release of Love Over Gold, former Rockpile drummer Terry Williams replaced Withers.

During 1982, Knopfler began exploring musical avenues outside of Dire Straits, scoring the Bill Forsyth film Local Hero and playing on Van Morrison's Beautiful Vision. Apart from releasing the Twisting by the Pool EP early in 1983, Dire Straits were quiet for the majority of 1983 and 1984, as Knopfler produced Bob Dylan's Infidels, as well as Aztec Camera and Willy DeVille; he also wrote "Private Dancer for Tina Turner's comeback album. In the spring of 1984, the band released the double album Alchemy: Dire Straits Live and by the end of the year, they had begun recording their fifth studio album with their new keyboardist, Guy Fletcher.

Released in the summer of 1985, Brothers in Arms was Dire Straits' breakthrough album, making the band international stars. Supported by the groundbreaking computer-animated video for "Money for Nothing," a song which mocked music videos, the album became a blockbuster, spending nine weeks at the top of the American charts and selling over nine million copies; in England, the album became the biggest-selling album of the '80s. "Walk of Life" and "So Far Away" kept Brothers in Arms in the charts through 1986, and Dire Straits played over 200 dates in support of the album. Once the tour was completed, Dire Straits went on hiatus for several years, as Knopfler produced records by Randy Newman and Joan Armatrading, scored films, toured with Eric Clapton, and recorded a duet album with Chet Atkins (Neck and Neck, 1990). In 1989, he formed the country-rock group Notting Hillbillies, whose sole album, Missing...Presumed Having a Good Time, became a British hit upon its spring 1990 release. During the extended time off, John Illsley recorded his second album; the first appeared in 1984.

In 1990, Knopfler reconvened Dire Straits, which now featured Illsley, Clark, Fletcher, and various session musicians. The band released On Every Street in the fall of 1991 to great anticipation. However, the album failed to meet expectations -- it only went platinum in America and it didn't crack the U.K. Top 40 -- and failed to generate a hit single. Similarly, the tour was a disappointment, with many tickets going unsold in both the U.S. and Europe. Once the tour was completed, the live album On the Night was released in the spring of 1993 and the band again went on hiatus. In 1996, Knopfler launched his solo career with Golden Heart. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Sultans Of Swing: The Very Best Of Dire Straits

1. Sultans Of Swing

2. Lady Writer

3. Romeo And Juliet

4. Tunnel Of Love

5. Private Investigations (Edit)

6. Twisting By The Pool

7. Love Over Gold (Live)

8. So Far Away

9. Money For Nothing (Radio Edit)

10. Brothers In Arms

11. Walk Of Life

12. Calling Elvis

13. Heavy Fuel

14. On Every Street

15. Your Latest Trick (Live)

16. Local Hero / Wild Theme (Live)

x

Track List: On Every Street (Remastered)

1. Calling Elvis

2. On Every Street

3. When It Comes To You

4. Fade To Black

5. The Bug

7. Heavy Fuel

8. Iron Hand

9. Ticket To Heaven

10. My Parties

11. Planet Of New Orleans

12. How Long

x

Track List: Brothers In Arms

1. So Far Away

2. Money For Nothing

3. Walk Of Life

4. Your Latest Trick

5. Why Worry

6. Ride Across The River

7. The Man's Too Strong

8. One World

9. Brothers In Arms

x

Track List: Love over Gold

1. Telegraph Road

2. Private Investigations

3. Industrial Disease

4. Love Over Gold

5. It never rains

x

Track List: Making Movies

1. Tunnel Of Love

2. Romeo and Juliet

3. Skateaway

4. Expresso Love

5. Hand In Hand

6. Solid Rock

7. Les Boys

x

Track List: Communique

1. Once Upon A Time In The West

2. News

3. Where Do You Think You're Going?

4. Communique

5. Lady Writer

6. Angel Of Mercy

7. Portobello Belle

8. Single-Handed Sailor

9. Follow Me Home

x

Track List: Dire Straits

1. Down To The Waterline

2. Water Of Love

3. Setting Me Up

4. Six Blade Knife

5. Southbound Again

6. Sultans Of Swing

7. In The Gallery

8. Wild West End

9. Lions

Comments

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Big Up
1 off my all time band,for sure ...
Mark..u a genius
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I love Pandora radio my only gripe is when I want to listen to Dire Straits radio all I hear is Pink Floyd. Its Dire Straits radio not Pink Floyd radio, hello!?!
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Trumpets in bands ain't rock n roll? Bigots. .lol anti tumpites
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sswheels72
My favorite dire straits tune.
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saw dire sraits live back on there on every street tour brilliant
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Listen to the live performance from the Alchemy Album, WOW!!
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Looooooooooo v e me some dire straits - aww yeah!!!
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Mark is one of all-time best guitar slingers! No he the sultan!
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CRANK IT
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sswheels72
Their best song imo. Killer.
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sandymcleod1 7 5
❤❤❤❤❤
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Always a sure true hit !! Rock ��
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Worry does no earthly good....pray e r does
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Save it up for Friday night, that's great ❤ it
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Mark come to LA
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Has Knopfler & Clampton composed a duet?
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❤❤❤❤❤
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As smooth as a glass of 100 year old Scotch
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I recall hearing the solo in Sultans of Swing and saying: Who is this?
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kpduty787
Saw him on CMT Crossroads doing an hour program and jam with Chet Atkins. Chet even in his 80s can jam with the best rock guitaurists! !! He is probably the best guitaurists ever to come from country music. Mark is a damn fine picker too. Loved his music ever since Dire Straits first album !!!
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Came here for that little f**got with his own jet airplane, that little f**got is a millionaire.
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My favorite song of all time
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Good guitar riff
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So Far Away is the best!
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❤❤❤❤❤
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Lady Writer On the T.V. Yeah She had all the perfect qualities - The Picture Does Not fit- You talked to Me when you felt like it
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Exceptional Song from an Amazing first Album!
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Fade to Black is a favorite of mine for sure.
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LOVE SULTANS OF SWING!!!
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awesome!
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The advertisemen t s ruined "The Walk of Life" for me :-/
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Mark Knopfler sounds like Bob Dylan, plays guitar like a jazzy Jimi Hendrix. Unique sound, unique man. Guitarists love him; his Sultans of Swing is covered and coveted by all of us. I think and hope that he still has some oil in the lamp.
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sheffield57
Not exactly sleepy time music
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Good TIMES....... . . . . X X X X X 9 O O O O O O
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Too many good songs to pick one though if pushed it would have to be Sultans of Swing. It was the first song at age 14 I heard and was hooked ever after.
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Probably my Favorite Dire Straits song
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steve.meigs
First time I heard Sultans of Swing was from a radio playing in my parent's fall out shelter, which was used as a storage closet. When was that 1980? Surreal. Nobody similar to Dire Straits.
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steve.meigs
First time I heard Sultans of Swing, 1985, was from a radio I was playing in my parent's fallout shelter in Alabama. Pretty surreal. There is nobody like Dire Straits.
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If he had let the rhythm Guitar be out front more often he'd have had greater success. I can't figure why he drowns out the amazing Strictly Rhythm guy behind him through most of the catalog.
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Making Movies was their best album by far...great band live.
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Does anybody remember when CD was a brand new medium? This particular CD was one of the very first fully digital recordings available.
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thomvee
What strikes me most about Dire Straits' & Knofler's music is how beautiful are many of the musical themes & lyrics. One of a kind fabulous stuff
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I had seen Dire Straits in Giant Stadium...3r d row orchestra!! They were awsome..,Aga i n , the good old days...
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Nice
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sheffield57
Ok I get it. Not many sentences to this song
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Tinker Ace : nobody makes it talk like MK
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What. . .Happened To....MTV??? X x x x O o o
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I rember the first time I seen money for nothing on mtv I said who is this genius and I really wish I could have seen dire straits just once but it wasn't meant to be yet
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I remember jamming to this song with my daddy when I was a little girl ������
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