Music

Five of the best: Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler, his brother David, John Illsley and Pick Withers are better known as the original members of British rock band Dire Straits.

Formed in 1977, Dire Straits hit the big time soon after thanks to their eponymous debut album and massive first single, Sultans of Swing.

The band’s place in rock and pop culture history is set and for this reason we have included Dire Straits in this edition of Five of the Best.

Since disbanding in the mid-1990s, the band has only performed together a handful of times. Of course there is nothing quite like seeing the original Dire Straits members performing together on stage, but given the chances of that are slim, we are excited to announce you can do the next best thing: The Dire Straits Experience.

Assembled by former Dire Straits members Chris White, the Dire Straits Experience is the closest you will get to seeing the real thing live on stage. The group is made up of accomplished musicians and singers who have performed with some of the world’s best such as Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Van Morrison, Ray Charles and David Bowie.

So, if you love the songs of Dire Straits, you will love seeing the Dire Straits Experience at the ASB Theatre on October 8. Click here to purchase tickets now. And enjoy our countdown of Five of the Best: Dire Straits.

So Far Away 

So Far Away was the lead single on the Dire Straits 1985 album, Brothers in Arms. While the song enjoyed moderate chart success it was not the album’s most successful single (see below for more singles from Brothers in Arms). The track was written by Mark Knopfler, yet it has none of the rock ‘n’ roll edge that Dire Straits had become known for. The song flirts with the line of pop ballad, which was not in step with Dire Strait’s recent releases. The change in pace was welcome however, with So Far Away becoming a key Dire Straits single and a top 20 single in many countries. The track received commercial and critical acclaim and is a worthy addition on our list.

Dire Straits - So Far Away (Stereo)

Walk of Life

Walk of Life almost didn’t see the light of day. When it came time to select songs for Dire Straits’ 1985 album, Brothers in Arms, the co-producer voted for the track to be dumped. Luckily for the band – and for the co-producer – the song was included and became one of the best know Dire Straits songs of all time. Walk of Life topped the charts in Ireland and was a top 10 hits the world over, charting well in the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The US version of the accompanying video (below) is worth a watch. The song is interspersed with scenes of great sporting failures and triumphs.

Dire Straits - Walk Of Life

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet – the rock band’s most famous ballad – was released on the 1980 album, Making Moves, and was released as a single in 1981. The track was written by Mark Knopfler and it is said to be about his failed romance with Holly Vincent. The autobiographic track is full of heart and has a very melodic and sweet sound. At the time of its release, the song was not particularly successful in terms of chart performance, yet it remains one of Dire Straits’ best loved songs. Knopfler’s lead vocals are perfect for the track and his always-perfect guitar playing adds to the drama of the track. This is one of our absolute favourites – we hope you agree.

Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet HD

Sultans of Swing

Sultans of Swing is the song that introduced Dire Straits to the world. The Mark Knopfler-penned track was included on the group’s eponymous debut album and was a massive hit in many parts of the world. Although Sultans of Swing was first released in 1978, it was the 1979 re-release that really sky-rocketed the British rock group into stardom. Sultans of Swing really set the tone for what was to come for Dire Straits. It represented the band’s sound and it remains one of their anthems even to this day.

Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing (Alchemy Live)

Money For Nothing

Dire Straits’ 1985 single, Money for Nothing was ground-breaking and memorable for many reasons; the now-famous opening falsetto of ‘I Want my MTV’, Sting’s backing vocals appearance and the fact that it was the first ever video to be aired on MTV Europe in 1987. The track was included on the band’s Brothers in Arms album and it was the most commercially successful of all Dire Straits’ hits. Money for Nothing went to the top of the charts in the USA and Canada and was a top 10 hit in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland their native UK. As well as being a memorable song, Money for Nothing was accompanied by a ground-breaking music video that featured early computer animation. While it may not look like much now, the animation was phenomenal in the mid-1980s. Check out the below video to see it for yourself.

Dire Straits - Money For Nothing

The Dire Straits Experience

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre – October 8

Click here to purchase tickets.