Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms

May 13, 1985 – Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms is released.
# allmusic 4/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Brothers in Arms is the fifth studio album by Dire Straits, released on this date in May, 1985. The first half of the album is a development of their unique brand of rock which had evolved in their music since the 1980 album Making Movies, while the second half consists of more folk-influenced material. The whole album maintains the original Dire Straits’ bluesy and laid back guitar-based style whilst employing a more lavish production and overall sound.
Brothers in Arms charted number 1 worldwide, spending ten weeks at number one on the UK Album Chart (between 18 January and 22 March), nine weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 in the U.S. and thirty-four weeks at number one on the Australian Album Chart. It is the seventh best-selling album in UK chart history; is certified nine times platinum in the United States; and is one of the world’s best selling albums having sold 30 million copies worldwide.
Q (6/00, p.71) – Ranked #51 in Q’s “100 Greatest British Albums”
Q (7/96, p.141) – 5 Stars – Indispensable – “…the commercial and artistic culmination….repeated listening reveals it as [a] singularly melancholic collection…where joy is as sharp as sorrow…”
Except for their swell debut hit single, “Sultans of Swing,” in 1979, the British band Dire Straits has never come as much of a surprise. And, then, what caught you off guard was how much the singer sounded like Dylan. Brothers in Arms, their first studio album since Love over Gold three years ago, offers more of their winsomely rocking tunes. The band is augmented by bassist Tony Levin, Weather Report drummer Omar Hakim, a horn section, which includes the Brecker Brothers, and some thirteen different keyboards that are used to explore orchestral textures. Carefully crafted instead of raucous, pretty rather than booming, and occasionally affecting, the record is beautifully produced, with Mark Knopfler’s terrific guitar work catching the best light. The lyrics are literate, but the scenarios aren’t as interesting as they used to be on records like Making Movies, still the band’s most solid LP.
Side one has the most driving songs: the bouncy “Walk of Life,” a Fifties rock & roll song about cool Fifties rock & roll songs that features a cheesy organ sound, and “So Far Away,” a missive from a distant town, with a catchy bass line rumbling underneath it. After a grandiose introduction, “Money for Nothing” shows what a guy who moves refrigerators for a living thinks of the rock stars on MTV. “See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup/Yeah buddy that’s his own hair/That little faggot got his own jet airplane/That little faggot he’s a millionaire,” the guy mutters, while Knopfler’s guitar grinds out his irritation. The guitar turns delicate for the gentle “Why Worry,” a song that’s as soft as a sigh.
Side two, made up of four songs about men and war, is more ambitious and less successful. Knopfler practically whispers the lyric to “Brothers in Arms” but never turns out images that catch your eye; the music’s lovely, though, with the electric guitar cutting patterns in a soft-toned background. But no telling metaphors are found in this quartet of songs, and the music lacks the ache that made Knopfler’s recent soundtracks for Comfort and Joy and Cal so powerful.
~ Debby Bull (July 4, 1985)
All songs written by Mark Knopfler, except where indicated.
Side one             
1.            “So Far Away”  3:59
2.            “Money for Nothing” (Knopfler, Sting)   7:04
3.            “Walk of Life”    4:12
4.            “Your Latest Trick” 4:46
5.            “Why Worry” 5:22
Side two             
6.            “Ride Across the River” 6:58
7.            “The Man’s Too Strong” 4:40
8.            “One World” 3:40
9.            “Brothers in Arms” 7:00


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