Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Album of the Day #132: DIRE STRAITS

Title: Dire Straits

Artist: Dire Straits
Label: Warner Bros.
Year: 1978
Songs: Down To The Waterline/Water Of Love/Setting Me Up/Six Blade Knife/Southbound Again/Sultans Of Swing/In The Gallery/Wild West End/Lions
Written by: Mark Knopfler
Produced by: Muff Winwood
Thoughts: This is a really nice debut album that works hard to set Dire Straits apart from all the other rock acts of 1978. Let's face it though, you're not listening to this album for Mark Knopfler's gutteral, deep vocals (as good as they sometimes may be). You bought it to hear the amazing guitar licks that Knopfler knocks out at every chance he gets.
The songs themselves are pretty good, but the second side is where things really kick in. The first side is pretty good, but the songs are slow, and save for "Six Blade Knife", none of them are particularly good on their own. However, once that signiture guitar figure from "Sultans Of Swing" comes on, everything kicks into high gear. "In The Gallery", where Knopfler gives his best vocal performance, is intense, going on for just over six minutes. "Wild West End" is also amazing and "Lions" works as smooth closer.
I also have to say that I love the minimalist artwork designed by Hothouse. There's a moody painting on the cover and just a band shot in the sleeve, along with lyrics. On the back is just a sparse white panel with just four separate portraits of the band and a list of the tracks. For a band that themselves provides nine songs with a spatious mood (I mean, the songs, even "Sultans Of Swing", feel like they fill up less space of their sonic landscape than they are given) this simplistic design is perfect.
In conclusion, it's a great album. Maybe not among the greatest debuts ever, but still a worth a spin every now and then.

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