Album #551 – Brothers In Arms
Brothers In Arms is one of the biggest selling albums of all time. I can remember seeing the iconic cover in my parent’s cassette tape collection as a little kid and wondering what sounds were on this album. I figured it was some random delta blues record. The best part is that there is traces of that (The Man’s Too Strong), country (Why Worry), rock (Money for Nothing), jazz (Your Latest Trick) and rockabilly (Walk of Life). Kind of like any great music from the 80’s. The band was a huge part of not only my dad’s life but that of many others. Dad always talks about how big Dire Straits were when he was in their heyday. Mark Knopfler’s every man approach to songwriting was not only extremely accessible but awesome and reliable. He has always been a storyteller and that sets him apart from other songwriters of this decade. In fact, it has gotten him into trouble. Money for Nothing was written directly from a conversation he heard in an NYC electronics store. Two workers were talking about their disgust with MTV and the whole notion of a rock star in the mid 80’s. Knopfler was instantly able to translate that into a song and many thought his words were actually taken to be his literal opinion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The full album version was briefly banned from airplay in Canada but, thankfully the context of the song rescinded it. In many ways, Dire Straits were the antithesis of 80’s rock stars: they hated making flashy music videos and never really appeared in them, the music was more important than the image and they were never afraid to combine their influences from the past into their music. And yet, because the music was of the utmost importance, this album had to be good. Really good. In fact, drummer Terry Williams was replaced by session vet Omar Hakim for the sessions of Brothers In Arms because Williams wasn’t up to snuff. What we are left with is one of the best sounding albums of the decade without a single throwaway song. That is a huge accomplishment in itself for any album released in 1985.
Other highlights include: So Far Away, Ride Across The River and Brothers In Arms.
Overall, I give Brothers In Arms, 9 out of 5.
Next: Steve McQueen/Two Wheels Good by Prefab Sprout