Wild West End: An Epic Studio Adventure Begins With ‘Dire Straits’

Having had the support of much-respected broadcaster and author Charlie Gillett, the band now turned to the production expertise of former Spencer Davis Group member Muff Winwood.

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'Dire Straits' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
'Dire Straits' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

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.

Having 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 younger brother Steve. He was now an in-demand producer, with an earlier triumph at the helm of another notable breakthrough album, SparksKimono My House, and A&R man, firstly at Island Records and then in an even longer association with CBS Records.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Dire Straits Best Of playlist.

Dire 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.

Dire Straits - Wild West End (Official Music Video)

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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.

Buy or stream Dire Straits.



  1. Milad Shadfar

    February 15, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Best guitar player in history
    I see you in Rome man after 20 years wait to see you

    • Nemotani

      January 5, 2016 at 3:30 am

      I concur!

  2. Len Boloin

    February 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

    One of the greatest and most talented bands in the history of bands!

  3. Mike-NJ

    February 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    One of the all-time greats….See you in Oct..

  4. Damodar prabhu

    February 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I have been Fan of Dire strait ever since release of their Legendary Album ‘Brother in Arms ‘ . Some of the songs are like milestone in our Life !

  5. Rose Heredia

    February 15, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    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.

  6. Chuck

    February 16, 2015 at 1:49 am

    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

  7. Matt West

    February 19, 2015 at 10:36 am

    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.

  8. Simon

    February 16, 2016 at 12:01 am

    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.

  9. Mark

    February 16, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    must be one of the best bands ever so iconic and never dates

  10. Jez

    February 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Sultans of Swing. The best

  11. Bev

    April 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I could listen to you guys every day – if your single Mark marry me …..,,.

  12. Lev Goodwin

    May 28, 2016 at 12:15 am

    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??

  13. Pambc

    June 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    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!

  14. giorgio tirelli

    July 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm


  15. Axel Netzband

    February 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    …i was kind of electrified by the first record – very soon after the release it gets clear that I have to play guitar… And I still do.

  16. michael gilchrease

    February 15, 2017 at 4:21 am

    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….

  17. Craig

    February 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    All time great guitars big call
    But it true. he’s play with them all
    Even they say he’s the best
    Sultans of Swing 14 mins long wow it took me on a journey i never forget

  18. coca80140

    February 14, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Une révélation avec l’album ‘ Making Movies ‘ disque complètement usé à force de le passer sur la platine. Une révélation .

  19. Andrew

    February 17, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Crossing the Tyne on the London bound train-Southbound again playing in my head. Fabulous.

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