Dire Straits

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About Dire Straits

When Dire Straits released “Sultans of Swing” in 1978, it sounded like little else coming across the airwaves. Besides introducing the world to Mark Knopfler’s tangled fingerpicking, the Dylan-esque gem layered earthy blues and country (the Tulsa sound in particular) over a shuffle so lean and tight, fans of New Wave music couldn’t help but embrace it. This knack for marrying American roots music to contemporary sounds would become Dire Straits’ defining quality as they became stadium rockers in the ’80s. Indeed, their biggest hit, “Money for Nothing,” from the 1985 blockbuster Brothers in Arms, sounds like cyborgs playing roadhouse blues rock on synthesizers. (The image is further enhanced by its music video, a neon-suffused product of early computer animation that’s regarded as one of the most iconic artifacts of early MTV.) Knopfler, low-key and more interested in developing his craft than stardom, began retreating from the spotlight, devoting more time to composing movie scores. The band would notch one last big hit before falling silent: 1991’s “Calling Elvis,” a brilliantly atmospheric update of Memphis rockabilly. Though Dire Straits have remained broken up since the ’90s, they have found new admirers in the 21st century with indie artists like The War on Drugs and Mac DeMarco professing their love of the band’s uniquely modernist approach to roots rock.

London, England
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