Dire Straits

Dire Straits

Warner Brothers, 1978


REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


A perusal of Billboard’s top songs from 1978, which includes disco hits from Andy Gibb, the Bee Gees, the Commodores, etc., and soft rock hits from Wings, Meatloaf, and Barry Manilow, really tell you all you need to know about Dire Straits’ first album.  Instead of overdone, mushy fluff, instead of roller rink and disco club music, Dire Straits was doing something real.  It is bluesy roots rock music that survives the test of time.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Sultans Of Swing” has been the most enduring success from this album, still getting slots on radio and in movie soundtracks, and rightfully so.  The song is one of those that seems to have been produced with just a little extra juice knowing that it would be on the singles charts.  In this, the tune really stands apart from the rest of the disc. Yet the entire album is solid.  The album’s kick-off, "Down To The Waterline," begins with lilting, out-of-time guitar notes that suddenly coalesce into a driving and yet somehow halting rhythm.  It signaled everything that Dire Straits would be at the start of their career, and everything Mark Knopfler’s song writing could be, too.  Things can go from county and Western with “Setting Me Up” and “Southbound Again,” to soulful blues with “Six Blade Knife,” to soft rock on “Wild West End.”  But the most enigmatic element of Dire Straits is the fact that it is very hard to put an exact name on what they are doing.  Often there are congruent and sometime conflicting elements at work that produce an entirely unique sound.

I dare you to play 1978’s Dire Straits next to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack released in late 1977 and see which sounds fresher today.  Both have their merits, but Dire Straits gave to the music lover a treasure with their first album.  And while disco died years ago, Dire Straits spare, hard-to-define sound still impresses.

Rating: A-

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© 2012 Curtis Jones and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.