Title: Sultans Of Swing

Artist: Dire Straits

Album: Dire Straits

Year Released: 1978

What It Is: An encapsulation of club band (especially jazz band) ethos? Sure, I’ll buy that. One of the strongest debut singles ever? Yeah, that too. A breath of fresh air on album oriented rock radio in the late 70’s? Heck, yes. Sure beat Seger, Styx and Journey 24-7.

Riffage / Hookage: Now, the ‘riff’, the ongoing rhythm part, isn’t the centerpiece of the song, though David Knopfler and John Illsley do a fine job keeping things goin. The star, of course is Mark Knopfler and his finger-picked leads and fills. Almost all of Knopfler’s guitar work utilizes finger picking (he did admit to use a pick when recording rhythm guitar tracks later in his career, but here, that’s what baby brother was for).

Cowbell?: Maybe when Knopfler sings “the time bell rings”?

Words Of Wisdom: “You check out Guitar George
He knows all the chords
He’s strictly rhythm; he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
And an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing”

Mixology Report: Yeah, but if pressed, I’d choose “Water Of Love”, “Setting Me Up”, “Lions” or “Down To The Waterline” from their first record. But I’m onery like that.

Top Five Genius Results: Reeling In The Years – Steely Dan
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive (?)
House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
All Right Now – Free (?)

Genius…genius…need to stop thinking Dire Straits is an AOR arena-rock band.

For The Good Of The Order: I had a conversation with a friend this weekend, who is a younger chap, but knows some good tunes. He was surprised, perhaps, when I stated that to my ears this debut album (and Making Movies) were much better than Brothers In Arms. In fact, this debut may be one of the best debuts ever (it’s in the team picture). For some reason, I prefer Dire Straits before they added a lot of flashy production and effects. So up to that point, each album is pretty nifty (even Communique, and don’t forget about the single “Twisting By The Pool”).

Here’s Dire Straits at the “Old Gray Whistle Test”: