Dire Straits (album)

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Dire Straits
DS Dire Straits.jpg
Studio album by
Released9 June 1978 (1978-06-09) (UK)[1]
Recorded13 February – 5 March 1978
StudioBasing Street, Notting Hill, London
ProducerMuff Winwood
Dire Straits chronology
Dire Straits
Singles from Dire Straits
  1. "Sultans of Swing"
    Released: May 1978 (UK)
  2. "Water of Love"
    Released: October 1978 (NL) [3]

Dire Straits is the debut studio album by the British rock band Dire Straits released on 9 June 1978 by Vertigo Records internationally, Warner Bros. Records in the United States and Mercury Records in Canada.[4] The album has the hit single "Sultans of Swing", which reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 8 on the UK Singles Chart. The album reached the top of the album charts in Germany, Australia and France, number 2 in the United States and number 5 in the United Kingdom. Dire Straits was later certified double platinum in both the United States and the United Kingdom.


Dire Straits was recorded at Basing Street Studios in London from 13 February to 5 March 1978. Knopfler used a few guitars for the recording, including a pair of red Fender Stratocasters—one from 1961 (serial number 68354) and one from 1962 (serial number 80470). He played his 1938 National Style O 14 fret guitar (serial number B1844)[nb 1] on "Water of Love" and "Wild West End". He also used a black Telecaster Thinline (serial number 226254) on "Setting Me Up". David played a black Fender Stratocaster and a Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar. The album was produced by Muff Winwood, and engineered by Rhett Davies, assisted by Greg Cobb.


The album was released in the US on 20 October 1978.[6] The first single released was "Sultans of Swing" which first broke into the United States top five early in the spring of 1979, becoming a hit a full five months after the album was released there, and then reached number eight in the UK Singles Chart. "Water of Love" was also released as a single in some countries, and charted in Australia, reaching number 54, and in the Netherlands, reaching number 28.[7]

"Sultans of Swing" was re-released as a single in the UK in November 1988 to promote the greatest hits compilation Money for Nothing, released in October that year.[8]

The album was remastered and reissued with the rest of the Dire Straits catalogue in 1996 to most of the world excluding the U.S. and on 19 September 2000 in the United States.[9]


The album cover artwork is designed by Hothouse, who commissioned the cover painting from Chuck Loyola. The Dire Straits Fender logo, which appears on the back cover, was designed by Geoff Halpern.


Dire Straits promoted the release of their first single and album with the Dire Straits Tour, which started on 6 June 1978 at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton, included 55 shows, ending on 18 November 1978 at the College of Education in Hitchin.[10] The European tour included concerts in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. These concerts presented Dire Straits with their largest audiences to that date. The first leg of the tour promoted their first single, "Sultans of Swing". This first leg took the band around Great Britain in June and July 1978, performing in England, Scotland and Wales. The band typically performed in small halls with a maximum capacity of 1,000. The second leg of the tour promoted the band's debut album. This leg took the band to several European countries, where they met journalists and performed on television programmes.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB[12]
Rolling StonePositive[14]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album four out of five stars, calling it "remarkably accomplished for a debut".[11] Erlewine praised Knopfler's "spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling" and his "inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album".[11]

In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, Ken Tucker wrote that the band "plays tight, spare mixtures of rock, folk and country music with a serene spirit and witty irony. It's almost as if they were aware that their forte has nothing to do with what's currently happening in the industry, but couldn't care less."[14] Tucker singled out "Sultans of Swing" for its "inescapable hook" and "Bob Dylan-like snarl in its vocal".[14] He also praised "Setting Me Up" as a "heavenly number, funny and bitter".[14]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Mark Knopfler.

Side one
1."Down to the Waterline"3:55
2."Water of Love"5:23
3."Setting Me Up"3:18
4."Six Blade Knife"4:10
5."Southbound Again"2:58
Side two
1."Sultans of Swing"5:47
2."In the Gallery"6:16
3."Wild West End"4:42
Total length:41:34
  • "Sultans of Swing" fades out early on some CD pressings before 1996. (05:36)


Dire Straits[edit]



Dire Straits spent 132 weeks on the UK Albums Chart.[17]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia 47,000[35]
Austria (IFPI Austria)[36] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[37] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[38] Gold 10,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[39] Platinum 400,000*
Germany (BVMI)[40] Platinum 500,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[41] Gold 50,000[42]
Italy (FIMI)[43]
sales since 2009
Platinum 50,000double-dagger
Netherlands (NVPI)[44] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[45] Platinum 15,000^
Sweden (GLF)[46] Silver  
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[47] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[49] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Knopfler's 1938 National Style O 14 fret guitar — legendary guitar used for the Brothers in Arms cover artwork — is a 1937 model and was purchased in the early 1970s from Steve Phillips. Knopfler has used it on all Dire Straits albums and on all of his solo albums.[5]


  1. ^ "Dire Straits: The Timeline". Dire Straits.
  2. ^ a b All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music (4th ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. 2001. p. 120. ISBN 0879309237.
  3. ^ "Dire straits singles".
  4. ^ "Dire Straits". Discogs. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  5. ^ "National Style O". Mark Knopfler Info. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  6. ^ "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.
  7. ^ "Dire Straits". Dutch Charts. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Dire Straits | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  9. ^ "30 years of Dire Straits!". 16 January 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Dire Straits tour 1978". Mark Knopfler Info. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Dire Straits". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: D". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 24 February 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (23 September 2020). "Dire Straits: Dire Straits Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d Tucker, Ken (25 January 1979). "Dire Straits". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  15. ^ Dire Straits (booklet). Dire Straits. Burbank, California: Warner Bros. Records. 1978. pp. 11–12. 947769-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. ^ "How a Slow-Building Debut Eventually Vindicated Dire Straits". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Dire Straits - Albums". Official Charts. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Dire Straits – Dire Straits" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Dire Straits – Dire Straits" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Lescharts.com – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Dire Straits – Dire Straits" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  22. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Charts.nz – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Hits of the World - Spain". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 21 July 1979. p. 69.
  26. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  27. ^ "Dire Straits | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Dire Straits Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1978". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  30. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1979". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1979". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  33. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1979". Billboard. 2 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  34. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1981". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  35. ^ Baker, Glenn (17 March 1979). "Australia - Down Under in Oz" (PDF). Billboard. p. SA-4. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Gold & Platinum Awards 1987" (PDF). Music & Media. 26 December 1987. pp. 42–46. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  37. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Music Canada.
  38. ^ "Danish album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  39. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973: Albums". Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 19 October 2020. (select "Dire Straits" from drop-down list)
  40. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Dire Straits; 'Dire Straits')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  41. ^ "Dire Straits in Greece" (PDF). Cash Box. 5 January 1980. p. 21 – via American Radio History.
  42. ^ Carr, John (3 November 1979). "Greece: Rock and Roll Is The Word" (PDF). Billboard. p. 77. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  43. ^ "Italian album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.
  44. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Enter Dire Straits in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1978 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle statussen"
  45. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  46. ^ "Swedish Gold For Straits" (PDF). Cash Box. 12 January 1980. p. 26. Retrieved 17 February 2020 – via American Radio History.
  47. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Dire Straits; 'Dire Straits')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  48. ^ "British album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". British Phonographic Industry.
  49. ^ "American album certifications – Dire Straits – Dire Straits". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]