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Pop - Released June 1, 1985 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 1, 1978 | Warner Records

Dire Straits' minimalist interpretation of pub rock had already crystallized by the time they released their eponymous debut. Driven by Mark Knopfler's spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling, the album is a set of bluesy rockers. And while the bar band mentality of pub rock is at the core of Dire Straits -- even the group's breakthrough single, "Sultans of Swing," offered a lament for a neglected pub rock band -- their music is already beyond the simple boogies and shuffles of their forefathers, occasionally dipping into jazz and country. Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album. The album is remarkably accomplished for a debut, and Dire Straits had difficulty surpassing it throughout their career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | EMI

There is an interesting contrast on this 94-minute double-disc live album (recorded at London's Hammersmith Odeon in July 1983) between the music, much of which is slow and moody, with Mark Knopfler's muttered vocals and large helpings of his fingerpicking on what sounds like an amplified Spanish guitar, and the audience response. The arena-size crowd cheers wildly, and claps and sings along when given half a chance, as though each song were an up-tempo rocker. When they do have a song of even medium speed, such as "Sultans of Swing" or "Solid Rock," they are in ecstasy. That Dire Straits' introspective music loses much of its detail in a live setting matters less than that it gains presence and a sense of anticipation. Alan Clark's keyboards help to fill out the sound and give Knopfler's spare melodies a certain majesty, but Dire Straits remains an overgrown bar band with a Bob Dylan fixation, and that's exactly how the crowd likes it. [The CD version of the album contains one extra track, "Love Over Gold," which adds a needed change of pace to the otherwise slow-moving first disc.] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Warner Records

It took Mark Knopfler more than six years to craft a followup to Dire Straits' international chart-topper, Brothers In Arms, but though On Every Street sold in the expected multi-millions worldwide on the back of the band's renown and a year-long tour, it was a disappointment. Knopfler remained a gifted guitar player with tastes in folk ("Iron Hand"), blues ("Fade To Black"), and rockabilly ("The Bug"), among other styles, but much of the album was low-key to the point of being background music. The group had long-since dwindled to original members Knopfler and bassist John Illsley, plus a collection of semi-permanent sidemen who provided support but no real musical chemistry. The closest thing to a successor to "Money For Nothing," the big hit from Brothers In Arms, was the sarcastic rocker "Heavy Fuel." It became an album rock radio favorite (though not a chart single), and fans still filled stadiums to hear "Sultans Of Swing," but On Every Street was not the comeback it should have been. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 27, 1998 | Warner Records

Exactly ten years after Dire Straits' first compilation, Money for Nothing, appeared in the stores, their second, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, was released. A decade is a significant span of time, and the average band would have produced enough material for an entirely different collection, one that shared no similarities with its predecessor. Dire Straits is not the average band, however, and during those ten years, they released exactly two albums -- 1991's On Every Street, their first studio album since Brothers in Arms in 1985, and 1993's On the Night, a live album culled from tapes of the record's supporting tour. Not quite enough new material for a new greatest-hits album, but it had been years since Dire Straits had released an album of any sort (a compilation of BBC sessions snuck into the stores in 1995) -- hence the birth of Sultans of Swing. Unsurprisingly, it covers much of the same ground as Money for Nothing, containing all the essentials ("Sultans of Swing," "Romeo and Juliet," "Tunnel of Love," "Private Investigations," "Twisting by the Pool," "Money for Nothing," "Brothers in Arms," "Walk of Life"), with the exception of "Telegraph Road," which was left on the earlier compilation. A live "Love Over Gold," "Lady Writer," and "So Far Away" replace "Down to the Waterline," "Where Do You Think You're Going," and a live "Portobello Belle," which is really just a trade-off, since they're all equal in quality. Then there are the three hits from On Every Street ("Calling Elvis," "Heavy Fuel," "On Every Street"), all of which are pleasant re-creations of the Brothers in Arms sound; a live version of "Your Latest Trick" from On the Night, and, inexplicably, Mark Knopfler's "Wild Theme (Theme from Local Hero)." Fine tunes all, but none of them are reason enough to replace Money for Nothing with Sultans of Swing. But for casual fans or curious listeners looking for an introduction/sampler, it's the better choice, simply because it covers more ground and contains more music while remaining quite listenable and entertaining. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 5, 2005 | Warner Records

Despite the fact that Love Over Gold contains only five songs, the powerful effect of these selections makes this Dire Straits' most underrated record. Building on the ambitious arrangements and more sophisticated story-songs that made up the prior Making Movies, Mark Knopfler audaciously composed "Telegraph Road," a near-15-minute cut that traces society's technological evolution. Although this kind of subject matter might sound ostensibly dry, Knopfler's crisp playing and warm raspy voice, combined with Alan Clark's gorgeous keyboard runs, makes for a sweeping experience. Elsewhere, Knopfler uses the satirical romp "Industrial Disease" to turn a lesson on international economics and bureaucratic red tape into an infectious shuffle. Rounding out this unusual pop album are the atmospheric, piano-driven title track, the ominously film noir-flavored "Private Investigations," and "It Never Rains," the story of a hard-luck lover that comes off with an optimistic air thanks to Clark's pulsing organ playing and Knopfler's robust delivery. © TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1980 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 16, 1984 | Warner Records

Rushed out less than nine months after the surprise success of Dire Straits' self-titled debut album, the group's sophomore effort, Communiqué, continues in the same vein. Mark Knopfler and co. had established a sound (derived largely from J.J. Cale) of laid-back shuffles and intricate, bluesy guitar playing, and Communiqué provides more examples of it. "Lady Writer" (a lesser singles chart entry on both sides of the Atlantic) nearly duplicated the sound of "Sultans of Swing," even if . Communiqué sold immediately to Dire Straits' established audience, but no more, and it did not fare as well critically as its predecessor or its follow-up. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 30, 1993 | Warner Records

A live document of Dire Straits' 1991-1992 world tour supporting the On Every Street album, On the Night works sporadically, offering enough good material to interest fans but not enough to win back the commercial audience earned by Brothers in Arms. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | EMI

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Pop - Released April 1, 2020 | Cult Legends

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Pop - Released July 12, 2005 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released July 12, 2005 | Warner Records