Monday, May 13, 1985

Dire Straits released Brothers in Arms

First posted 3/7/2008; updated 11/24/2020.

Brothers in Arms

Dire Straits

Released: May 13, 1985

Peak: 19 US, 114 UK, 118 CN, 134 AU

Sales (in millions): 9.0 US, 4.15 UK, 32.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. So Far Away [5:12] (4/20/85, 17a US, 20 UK, 29 AR, 3 AC)
  2. Money for Nothing (Knopfler/ Sting) [8:25] (6/1/85, 1 US, 1 AR, 4 UK, 1 CN, 4 AU)
  3. Walk of Life [4:12] (6/1/85, 6a US, 6 AR, 4 AC, 2 UK, 7 CN, 11 AU)
  4. Your Latest Trick [6:33] (3/3/86, 26 UK)
  5. Why Worry [8:30]
  6. Ride Across the River [6:58] (1/11/86, 21 AR)
  7. The Man’s Too Strong [4:40]
  8. One World [3:40] (8/24/85, 8 AR)
  9. Brothers in Arms [6:59] (10/26/85, 16 UK, 57 AU)

All songs written by Mark Knopfler unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 55:07

The Players:

  • Mark Knopfler (vocals, guitar)
  • John Illsley (bass, vocals)
  • Alan Clark (keyboards)
  • Guy Fletcher (keybards, vocals)
  • Omar Hakim, Terry Williams (drums)


4.225 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Quotable: “The first album to sell one million copies in the CD format” – Wikipedia


About the Album:

“Dire Straits were fortunate enough to be the right band at the right time with the right product to benefit fro a new music medium.” TB “When the clamour of punk began die down at the beginning of the eighties ex-pub rockers Dire Straits emerged with a lucrative brand of laid-back rock tailor-made for the more mature end of the market and the fledging CD format.” PR At a time when most albums were still recorded on analog equipment, Arms was recorded digitally making it a “must-have record for serious audiophiles.” ZS It was “the first album to sell one million copies in the CD format and to outsell its LP version.” WK “Industry insiders suggested everyone who owned a CD player also owned a copy of this disc.” PR The one downside – due to limitations of the latter’s format, tracks had to be edited to fit.

Brothers in Arms brought the atmospheric, jazz-rock inclinations of Love Over Gold into a pop setting, resulting in a surprise international best-seller.” AMG The album topped the charts in 25 countries. TB One of the keys to their success “was that their music wasn’t too dynamic, nor demanding.” PR “It rocks – but not too much – and it doesn’t scream at you, so millions who would normally never buy a rock album bought it.” TB “Knopfler’s laid-back guitar licks looked back to Clapton, Rory Gallagher, and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull” PR and “his mid-Atlantic drawl reminded older fans of J.J. Cale, Springsteen, and Bob Dylan” PR positioning Knopfler s “an unpretentious Man Of The People.” TB

“Of course, the success of Brothers in Arms was helped considerably by the clever computer-animated video for Money for Nothing.” WK With its “indelible guitar riff,” AMG the “harmonic-popping distant relative of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’” TB and “the album’s liveliest track” TB was a #1 hit. The song grew out of overhearing a “New York appliance salesman's anti-rock-star, anti-MTV rant.” RS Ironically, it became one of the most played videos of all time. “It is the only Dire Straits song on a studio album to not be solely credited to Mark Knopfler. Sting was given a co-writing credit because his vocal hook, ‘I want my MTV,’ is the same melody as The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me.’” WK

What sent the album into the stratosphere was the band’s development on the first half of the record “of their unique brand of arena rock which had evolved in their music since the 1980 album Making Movies.” WK This is best exemplified by Knopfler’s “incisive songwriting and lush guitar riffs on Walk of Life and So Far Away,” RS which did well on the pop and rock charts. The latter “is a catchy up-tempo boogie variation on ‘Sultans of Swing,’” AMG that “was nearly left off the album, but was included after the band out-voted producer Neil Dorfsman.” WK

“The melodies of the bluesy ‘So Far Away’ and the down-tempo, Everly Brothers-style Why Worry were wistful and lovely.” AMG “The jazzy Your Latest TrickAMG is also a standout. Dire Straits had never been so concise or pop-oriented, and it wore well on them.” AMG “The whole album maintains the original Dire Straits’ bluesy and laid back guitar-based sound whilst retaining a more lavish and bombastic production and overall sound.” WK

However, “the second half consists of more folk-influenced material.” WK These “semi-acoustic folk-rock tracks…have an enduring and unassuming appeal.” PRRide Across the River is built on an off-beat rhythm. The song uses immersive Latin American rain forest imagery, accompanied by pan flute and eerie background noises, to allude to the elements of guerilla warfare.” WK The Man’s Too Strong and Brothers in Arms are also “lyrically focused on the guerrilla wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua of the 1980s. The title of the album was inspired by a conversation in which Knopfler’s father remarked, ‘We shouldn’t be at war with our brothers in arms.’” WK That title track “is one of Knopfler’s greatest moments. Refusing to show off, he wrests from the Les Paul something magisterial. Rarely has the electric guitar possessed such dignity.” TB

Brothers in Arms remains one of their most focused and accomplished albums, and in its succinct pop sense, it’s distinctive within their catalog.” AMG It “perfectly evokes its period (great for flashbacks to Miami Vice) with a terrific mix of commercial pop…and musical exploration crafted in an atmosphere of power and mystery.” ZS

Resources and Related Links:

  • Dire Straits’ DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London.
  • RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 228-9.
  • WK Wikipedia
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 88.

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