Dire Straits [Numbered Limited Edition Hybrid SACD]
Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler (vocals, guitar); David Knopfler (guitar, background vocals); John Illsley (bass); Pick Withers (drums).
Recorded at Basing St. Studios, London, England in February, 1978.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Led by former music journalist/college professor Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits emerged with their melancholy self-titled debut amidst the clatter of punk and gloss of disco. With a laid-back, raspy style of singing and distinctive finger-picking style of guitar playing, Knopfler came across as a fusion of J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan, and Chet Atkins. Coming out of the pub-rock scene, this tight English quartet cracked both sides of the Atlantic with the insanely catchy "Sultans Of Swing." The group further enhanced their reputation with the ominously atmospheric opener "Down to the Waterline." Knopfler's finger-picking style gave his guitar a smooth, distinct tone that was a jazz-country hybrid ("Setting Me Up"), while utilizing fancy country plucking "Southbound Again."
Dire Straits' minimalistic interpretation of pub-rock had already crystallized by the time they released this album. Driven by Knopfler's spare, tasteful guitar lines and husky warbling, the album is a set of bluesy rockers. And while the bar-band mentality of pub-rock is at the core of Dire Straits--even the aforementioned breakthrough single offers a lament for a neglected pub-rock band--their music is already beyond the simple boogies and shuffles of their forefathers. Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylanesque imagery that enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album.
Q (7/96, p.141) - 3 Stars - Good - "...swam doggedly against the tide of punk, eventually convincing audiences with its direct pop and Knopfler's thrilling guitar..."