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Chart Chat Classic Album Review : Dire Straits – ‘Brothers In Arms’ 13.05.85

Chart Chat Classic Album Review : Dire Straits – ‘Brothers In Arms’ (13.05.85)

With the recent success of The Straits UK tour and the return to the UK charts of ‘Brothers In Arms’ it seemed a good time to look back at one of the biggest selling albums of all time as it reaches a new generation of listeners.


The album followed on from their double live album ‘Alchemy’ and was released in May 1985.  The LP ran eight minutes shorter than the cassette / CD due to the limitations of the format with reduced versions of ‘So Far Away’, ‘Money For Nothing’, ‘Your Latest Trick’ and ‘Why Worry’ featuring on side one while the other tracks remained the same.

The band had carved a reputation for longer tracks with the full length versions of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, ‘Skateaway’, ‘Private Investigations’ and ‘Tunnel Of Love’ all weighing in at over six minutes long.  Fans who have the ‘Love Over Gold’ album will also note the inclusion of ‘Telegraph Road’ which is their longest outing at 14 minutes and 20 seconds.  So it came as a surprise that ‘Brothers In Arms’ featured shorter, more radio friendly songs and that formula saw them notch up five top forty hits.  Despite being released in 1985 it won two Grammy Awards in 1986 and the Best British Album award at the Brit Awards in 1987.

The Sound

The album was one of the first to be recorded using only digital technology and the CD version became the first long player on that format to sell one million copies.  It was recorded at the AIR Studios in Montserrat, a small territory in the Carribean with Neil Dorfsman helping Knopfler on production duties.  The duo had previously worked together on the bands 1982 album ‘Love Over Gold’ and Knopfler’s soundtrack album to the film ‘Local Boy’.  The band continued to profile the CD with the title track being widely regarded as one of the first singles to be released as a CD single.  Copies of this are scarce and regularly fetch several hundred pounds each when they come up for auction.

The Hits

The first single released was ‘So Far Away’ which peaked at a modest no.20 but then came ‘Money For Nothing’, a track which won plaudits for both its guitar based music, its humorous lyrics and its ground breaking video.  It was rarely off the TV and radio during the Summer of 1985 and it went on to make the top five in the UK before topping the charts in the US.  An edited version of the title track reached no.16 but got a little lost in the Christmas market although it notched up a thirteen week chart run.  ‘Walk Of Life’ equalled the no.2 peak of their 1982 single ‘Private Investigations’ despite having already featured as a b side to ‘So Far Away’ while ‘Your Latest Trick’ became the final track to be taken from the album.  The proceeds went to charity in the UK and it peaked at no.26 but it topped the French charts, and in doing so displaced ‘No Limits’ by the Dutch dance music duo 2 Unlimited.

The album is now the eight biggest selling album of all time in the UK placed just behind ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ by Pink Floyd but ahead of ‘Bad’ by Michael Jackson.  It was certified 13 times platinum in the UK, and nine times in the US with an estimated 30 million sales being achieved worldwide.  Recently it has returned to the charts almost twenty nine years after it was first released and now may reach a new generation of listeners.  As I write it is at no.33, down two places on last week but still ahead of Tinie Tempah!  It’s sound quality meant that it was one of the first albums to sell on the CD format and it still sounds as good today.

Twenty nine years on…

Fans who listen to the annual “Dire Straits to reform and headline Glastonbury” rumours are likely to be disappointed as Mark Knopfler prefers to concentrate on his solo career.  However the bands keyboard player Alan Clark and the sax player Chris White have gone on to form The Straits, a band which perform the songs of the original band in live venues around the world.  John Illsley was never part of the band despite his original wish to reform the band with Knopfler.  He has a solo career too and is due to play a gig with his band at The Jazz Cafe in London in June this year.  The Straits however have gone from strength to strength having completed an extensive UK tour during February and they are now playing a series of concerts in the States.


Those who wish to find out more about John Illsley and his solo career or The Straits can click here :


2 March, 2014 - Posted by | ChartChat

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