Dire Straits had been building their audience, both in the UK and around the world, for years by the time they achieved their first British No. 1 album in the early autumn of 1982, with Love Over Gold. Within two weeks, on 16 October that year, it had them back on the US chart, and straight into the top 40 at that. The LP’s No. 38 debut was the second highest of the week, behind only Billy Joel’s No. 29 debut with The Nylon Curtain.
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Recorded at the Power Station in New York, the band’s fourth album saw Mark Knopfler’s songwriting skills reach new levels of sophistication. He was building ever more confidence to express himself in ways beyond the mere three-minute single, underlined immediately on the album’s opening track, the 14-minute ‘Telegraph Road.’ Indeed, Love Over Gold contained only five tracks, the shortest of which, ‘Industrial Disease,’ came in at just under six minutes. The latter song became a major rock radio hit in America, helping the album to No. 19 there.
When Love Over Gold came out, Dire Straits were already climbing the singles charts with ‘Private Investigations,’ which went to be their joint highest-charting UK hit, reaching No. 2, as did ‘Walk Of Life’ four years later. The album emphasised just how big the band’s audience had become by going straight to No. 1 in the UK, on its way to double platinum status. It also topped the charts in Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Italy and Norway.
Knopfler also wrote the song ‘Private Dancer’ for the album but opted not to include it, sensing that a female voice would serve the song better. His decision to give it to Tina Turner would play a major part in her career revival in 1984.
That year, Knopfler told The Times that he felt Dire Straits’ audience appreciated the genuine creative motivation behind the band’s work. “Somehow,” he muses, “it gets across to people that what is being done is honest and skilful. They realise that nobody is out there to make a quick-buck killing.”
Love Over Gold, like the entire Dire Straits catalogue, continued to make frequent return visits to the UK bestsellers, and over the 14 years following its chart debut, it racked up a total of 200 weeks in the top 100.
Love Over Gold can be bought here.
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