On 31 August 1985, Dire Straits officially conquered America. The Billboard magazine from that date showed the band’s already massively successful Brothers In Arms album taking over from Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair at No. 1, a position it wouldn’t give up for nine weeks.
The magazine’s front cover advertised a special edition exploring the phenomenon of the “exploding video universe,” and especially the exercise workout craze, with “Jane Fonda’s Video Victory” emblazoned across an image of the actress and, by then, fitness icon. But in a very different way, Dire Straits were a sales phenomenon in their own right with this fifth studio album, which had entered the British charts at No. 1 at the end of May.
Buoyed by its opening single ‘So Far Away’ and the group’s already enviable reputation as a live attraction, the LP spent two weeks atop the UK bestsellers, returned for two more in August and then really its stride with a further ten-week reign from January 1986. It did not leave the top ten during that entire time, racking up an astonishing 60 top ten weeks in a row that lasted until July ’86.
In the States, Brothers In Arms arrived on the bestsellers in early June, and when it hit the top in its 13th chart week, Dire Straits became the fourth consecutive foreign act to top the US countdown, following Phil Collins, Tears For Fears and Bryan Adams.
During this period of the so-called “Second British Invasion,” Wham! had also been No. 1 in March, which meant that five overseas artists had worn the album crown that year, equal to five domestic chart-toppers to that point in 1985 (Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, John Fogerty and USA For Africa).
In the week that Brothers In Arms rose 5-1 in the US, its flagship single ‘Money For Nothing’ raced 17-10 on the Hot 100. Three weeks later, it would be starting its own three-week run at No. 1 — helped, unsurprisingly, by heavy rotation on the all-powerful video channel that Mark Knopfler namechecked in the song’s lyrics: MTV.