Mixed with blues and a dash of country – the Dire Straits were one of the few rock bands to break out in an era dominated by punk and disco.
Introspective lyrics with out-of-this-world guitar and drum sounds made them one of the most original rock bands of the 80s.
The opening lines of Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” – “These mist covered mountains / Are now home to me / But my home is the lowlands / And always will be” – describes the career arc of a band who never lost touch with the inspiration and wellspring of creativity with which they began, even as they ascended the heights of worldwide phenomenon under the leadership of lead guitarist Mark Knopfler.
Their common touch was evident in their first hit single from 1978, “Sultans Of Swing,” which described with affection a group of musicians who play for the love of the sound they ensemble rather than fame or fortune. Counterpointed with Knopfler’s stinging, uniquely melodic, and clean-edged guitar, Dire Straits stood in direct contrast to the punk rock enveloping London at the time; and they would refine their aspirations continually until the landmark 1985 Brothers In Arms. Capturing the MTV cultural moment with “Money For Nothing,” simultaneously satirical and yet open-hearted to how the public perceives a musician, or sympathetically illuminating the sibling warfare and unlikely hard-won battlefield camaraderie of quarreling nations that scars our times in the title track, Dire Straits – and later, Knopfler’s solo career – presented a music that never shied from the complexities of the human relationship, or the soaring guitar solos that give us the will to rise above such potentially divisive conflicts.
With a universally acknowledged virtuoso musician, lyrically ornate and emotionally charged, Dire Straits set a standard of excellence and achievement that continues to resonate, a reputation that has only grown through the years. A band for all time.
“Sultans Of Swing,” Dire Straits (1978) • “Lady Writer,” Communique (1979) • “Tunnel Of Love,” “Romeo And Juliet,” Making Movies (1980) • Love Over Gold (1982) • “Money For Nothing,” “Walk Of Life,” Brothers In Arms (1985) • On Every Street (1991)