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Album Talk: Dire Straits’ Debut Album Dire Straits


Most debut albums are the most famous work of many artists/bands. But there are a few gems which don’t make that list. One of them is Dire Straits’ self-titled debut album.

Released on 7 October 1978 by Vertigo Records, the album featured the hit single Sultans of Swing, which reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

As usual, I called fellow cowboy and musicologist Narendra Kusnur to discuss this album for our weekly Album Talk.

Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.

Me: Howdy!

Kusnur: Howdy!

Me: The first song on the album, Down to the Waterline was a hit.

Kusnur: The album released in 1978 but it got popular here in 1979. This song and Sultans of Swing were regularly played on the radio.

Their second album Communique also has a similar sound. One of the other songs on this album Setting Me Up is covered by Eric Clapton in his Just One Night album. I also liked Southbound Again from this album and that’s how I started following Dire Straits. At that time, there were a lot of great singers and guitarists.

Me: There weren’t many dual roles for a band member.

Kusnur: Yes! There would be long guitar solos but Dire Straits had a very different sound, guitar, and vocals played together. One thing I discovered later was David Knopfler was outstanding on the rhythm guitar. Most of their songs are rhythm guitar-based.

Me: Rhythm has been one of their strengths in most songs except Brothers in Arms.

Kusnur: It is a great song and an amazing album. The album also has songs like Walk of Life.

Me: And your favourite Money For Nothing.

Kusnur: NO!!!!

(screeching) I WANT MY MTVVVV

Me: There is a much-underrated song on the album called ‘Southbound Again’. It’s got a south Americana sound to it.

Kusnur: It is one of my favourites.

Me: But the song doesn’t make to the top 20 list of most Dire Straits fan.

Kunsur: Because in each of their albums had a couple of songs which took over the commercial space. In this album, it’s Down to the Waterline and Sultans of Swing. They have some great songs that are not known at all like Lions.

Me: The last song on this album.

Kusnur: Nobody even knows about it but it’s a great song.

Me: Even Six Blade Knife is relatively unknown.

Kusnur: Only hardcore Dire Straits fans would know of these songs.

Dire Straits and the Bob Dylan influence

Me: I have never understood one thing, they were a British band but sounded more American.

Kusnur: It was because of Bob Dylan and southern rock influences.

Me: They also had some Jazz and rock n roll influences too.

Kusnur: In some songs like Sultans of Swing.

Their music was categorised as “pub rock”. Their music was something one could listen to in the background while enjoying a drink.

Me: Their songs were easy to sing along too.

Kusnur: That was because of Mark Knopfler’s semi-spoken style of singing which was inspired by Bob Dylan. But he had more rhythm than Dylan.

Me: Dylan had the lyrics! Overall it was a superb debut album.

Kusnur: It is one of the greatest debut albums.

Me: Dylan with rhythm is what this album is all about.

Kusnur: Rhythm is the backbone of this album. David has done a brilliant job. Of course, no one talks about the other two members.

Me: How many people know their names?

Kusnur: John Illsley was the bassist, and Pick Withers the drummer. They had equal contribution but it was a showman led band so other members were overshadowed.

Me: Who knows what David did after they split!!


At this point, we started discussing the various scenarios which David might have been involved with. The editor is surely going to edit the scenarios out of this article so I am not even making an effort to write them.

Get in touch, with samosas, if you want to know.

Until then, Adios Amigos!

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