Dire Straits Start Their Studio Adventures

February 14, 2017
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Dire Straits Start Their Studio Adventures

Dire Straits had no easy ride en route to the multi-million-selling domination of their later years. The group had to endure plenty of low-profile gigs that paid next to nothing and lots of travelling to their own shows in a van or on public transport in their formative months. But as they started recording their debut album at Basing Street Studios in London in February 1978, the band knew they were on the right path.

Dire StraitsHaving had the help and support of a much-respected broadcaster and author in writer and BBC Radio London DJ Charlie Gillett , they now turned to a former member of the Spencer Davis Group. Gillett had been the early champion of Dire Straits, largely creating the momentum that led to their record deal with Vertigo by playing their demos on his show.

Now, as they entered the studio to start recording Mark Knopfler’s songs, they were working with Muff Winwood, who had enjoyed great success himself in the 1960s as bassist in Davis’ group, with brother Steve. He was now an in-demand producer, with an earlier notable triumph at the helm of another notable breakthrough album, Sparks’ Kimono My House, and A&R man.

Dire Straits pic2Dire Straits’ self-titled debut album was recorded over the next few weeks and released the following October, after they had supported both Talking Heads and the Climax Blues Band on UK tours, and become headliners themselves for the first time. The LP contained the later hit single ‘Sultans Of Swing,’ as well as ‘Southbound Again,’ ‘Down To The Waterline’ and other examples of Knopfler’s fine writing and guitar work, and how they meshed perfectly with the band’s tight playing.

To underline the rapid emergence that followed, Dire Straits built on its firm foundations to go silver, gold and then platinum in the UK within a nine-month period in 1979. The roots of one of the most potent sounds of the 1980s were growing fast.

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  1. Rose Heredia

    Wild West End is my favorite from this debut. Great band, dongs, guitar. Wish Mark. Would return to this music, I am not a fan of his country style. But I love Local Here and Cal , Princess Bride music, esp Going Home. Screen playing is good CD to hear the highlites of these soundtracks.

  2. Chuck

    This album will always bring warm feelings to me and a reminder of my late elder brother. I was a teen when it came out in Zimbabwe… we would listen to it over and over again as we ran a music shop way back then, ” Wild West West End ” was his favourite .. and I remember making it to London and walking on Shaftsbury Avenue and calling on my brother to ask him to gues where I was.. Great Album and cheers,, Chuck

  3. Matt West

    Simply the best lead guitarist/musician we will ever see. Big call, as I respect so many others. The reason Indecided to take up guitar 20 years ago. Marks music is pure and amazing.

  4. Simon

    Have to say a big thanks for all the pleasure I have had listening to all Dire straits work. These first two albums I still listen too a great deal. Amazing to imagine how many times I must have played them. Still outstanding work. Thanks to all involved. S.

  5. Lev Goodwin

    I’ve been an MK devotee since the 70’s. One thing I truly love about Mark’s recordings is the solo guitar work he does, typically during the fade out of the song. Brothers in Arms is and example, but there are dozens, maybe hundreds, like Golden Heart. I would love it if someone would do a mash-up of all of Mark’s “sign off” instrumentals. Any idea if such a project exists??

  6. Pambc

    I love dire straits. I was there biggest fan in the 80,s and still love there music to this day! I went to see knoffler last year at the o2 . He was awesome . I got chills when he played Romeo and Juliet which is my fav song of all time!! He is am amazing guitarist and right up there in all time greats!

  7. michael gilchrease

    saw them in 80 at a small place in baton rouge, very tight, very entertaining for a young guitar player…changed my mind on how to approach the guitar, and writing for that matter…great stuff….

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