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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Dire Straits' eponymous first album was recorded at Basing Street studios in West London in February 1978, for a reported £12,500. Though now recognised as a strong contender for the best debut album ever from any rock/blues band, the dominance of the popular music scene at the time by the nihilistic and ultimately disposable `New Wave' meant that this recording was initially drowned out by the surrounding noise, so its reputation grew only slowly.

The original band was a classic R&B quartet: band leader-singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Knopfler, his brother David on rhythm guitar, Mark's flatmate John Ilsley on bass and drummer Pick Withers.

The music is tight with a sound stripped down and clean; the songs distinctive and in style redolent at times of JJ Cale, the arrangements straightforward and unpretentious. Mark's Fender Strat and growling (somewhat Dylanesque) vocal dominate the action, over a capable rhythm section with a deep love of their rock/blues roots. They sound like a good pub-band on a Saturday night, with the mojo in overdrive. The whole album is a joy from beginning to end.

Lyrically the songs are a cut above your average R&B fare, with Mark's Tyneside roots evident in the themes and a laconic humour spicing the slice-of-life stories told from the perspective of an observer, very much in the style of Bob Dylan. `Sultans of Swing' later became the album's mega-hit and perennial DS stage-favourite, but originally was just one track among the rest with no plans to release as a single for radio-play.

DS went on to international success in the 1980s with five follow-up albums and a few personnel changes, the arrangements becoming more lengthy and inventive whilst remaining true to their original sound. But even their mega-selling 1985 album `Brothers in Arms' never really topped this, the sensational 1978 debut; it has an honesty and simplicity close to perfection.
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on 19 June 2012
Wanted to get this original version of the album having read about the loudness wars and the extra compression added to later releases. Copy I received was in good condition for the age, especially the CD which has great sound quality (despite being one of the first CDs ever released!). Would recommend to any Dire Straits fan; possibly their best album, although I love Making Movies too.
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Nearly 40 years since this album was first released, and it remains in my top 5 'all time' favourites. Their first album is a classic. Sultans of Swing is, possibly, the song that launched the band to later commercial success. It's a great track, but I think others are even better. Every track tells a story; whether it's Lets go down to the Waterline and think about Geordie life, or In the Gallery tribute, the lyrics and amazing Fender Strat riffs blend seamlessly, track by track into a sound which remains timeless. If rock legend is right, this is an album which cost buttons to produce, about £12k. What a legacy and this purchase replaces a long lost 1978 cd buy. It's good however you listen. I like my MP3 downloads, but I also enjoy the look and feel of this earlier version. The Knopfler sound is distinctive and original and this is an astonishing debut by the band.
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on 11 April 2014
Their first, their best, what more is there to say. Absolutely brilliant debut album from the great Dire Straits. You hear that opening twang and you are in heaven
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on 22 March 2017
I've known this album ever since my parents played it to me on tape when I was 5 or 6. I bought it on CD not long after buying a BBC live sessions disc with many of the same songs on it. It still sounds great.
I found I still know the guitair riffs on "Sultans of Swing" note for note and the images that come into my mind take me right back to childhood. Some of it I even understand better. "In The Gallery" is all about artistic license and how the forces of the outside world stifle or warp artists' creativity, while "Wild West End" is all about having a blast in Swinging London, both of which I now understand better. I also understand how "vultures" and "starlings" are mere analogies, not the real animals.
Mark Knopfler is rightly celebrated as a guitair genius and this is a good introduction to one of the biggest bands of the Eighties, before they became were roped into lauding MTV Europe with the aid of Sting and some crude early computer animation. Recommended? Yes, indeed!
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on 10 December 2015
I bought this on the strength of hearing it for the first time whilst on holiday in Croatia last October.Couldn't hear it properly over the restaurant's sound system but the fragment's I heard sounded good.Sounds even better through my sound system.If you like Dire Straits you've probably got this album already.If you like Dire Straits and haven't got it I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.Catchy tunes and sublime musicianship throuohout..
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on 19 November 2015
A wonderful album and the start of a wonderful future. Superb for the collection.
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on 22 July 2015
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on 4 December 2015
Time to catch up with an old favourite,nice.
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on 18 August 2015
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