Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sultans of Suck or Brothers in Awesome?

Whenever I listen to Dire Straits—a band that formed in 1977 with Mark Knopfler on lead guitar and vocals, David Knopfler on rhythm guitar, John Illsley on bass and Pick Withers on drums—I’m left with a feeling of confusion: I can’t decide if they rock or if they’re actually quite lame.

The singles released are great—this includes “Tunnel of Love,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Money for Nothing,” “Sultans of Swing,” “Walk of Life” and “Brothers in Arms”—but when listening to the other material on albums like Making Movies, Dire Straits or Brothers in Arms, I’m left feeling rather bored. Just like most Frank Zappa albums, there’s a couple of great songs and the rest is just unintentional filler.

The band has sold well over 100 million albums (including going 15 times platinum for their debut album, Dire Straits) but the amount of albums sold doesn’t necessarily mean the music produced is great. After all, Thriller and The Eagles’ Greatest Hits are still the highest selling albums of all-time.

(A tangent: The only American artists to claim to have sold over 250 million albums are Chubby Checkers, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Madonna and Michael Jackson. The most vomit-inducing on the 250,000,000+ list for all countries are ABBA and The Bee Gees. Here's the link.)

I’m a big fan of Mark Knopfler (his guitar work on Dylan’s Slow Train Coming and Infidels and production efforts on the latter are quite good) and anyone named Pick Withers deserves a spot in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Names, but I just can’t fully get into a full album of theirs. Or, for that matter, a complete album of REM. But I’ll save Stipe and Co. for another time.

Five Best…Dire Straits’ Songs

#5. “Walk of Life”

#4. “Brothers in Arms”

#3. “Sultans of Swing”

#2. “Romeo and Juliet”

#1. “Tunnel of Love”