It’s hard to believe how long it’s been since Dire Straits first album was released

Dire Straits
Dire Straits / Gie Knaeps/GettyImages

Do you remember Dire Straits' first album, which shot the band to massive worldwide fame being released, or when you first heard it? The self titled debut album, which truly launched the band, was released an amazing forty five years ago this day, June 9, 1978. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since we first heard their music.

The band was formed in London a year earlier, in 1977, with two brothers, Mark, and David Knopfler, joining up with John Illsley and Pick Withers. They recorded their debut album in around three weeks in early 1978 for £12,500. What a bargain that sounds these days!

Dire Straits first album was stylish and distinctive

The album is perhaps best known for the massive hit single “Sultans of Swing” but has nine terrific tracks with a diversity of moods but a very distinctive style. 

I recall hearing the fantastic guitar work from Mark Knopfler for the first time, especially on “Sultans of Swing.” It was a silky, smooth, flowing lead guitar that seemed to wash over you. Have a listen to this version from a session recorded for the BBC Old Grey Whistle Test rock show in the UK.

Very much a contrast to the outbreak of punk music in the year or two before, although Mark did have a slightly snarling style at times on his vocals. 

The year that launched Dire Straits

1978 was an excellent year for the band; they toured as support to ,Talking Heads which helped promote both the single and the album and get them noticed and signed up in the United States by Warner Bros. Records. 

The album was released there slightly later that year, on October 20. Both the album and single went on to great commercial success worldwide. As did the band, with many more hit singles, albums, and sell-out tours to follow, before they formally disbanded in 1995.

Dire Straits tracklist
Dire Straits tracklist credit: Stairway to 11 /

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