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New depth from Dire Straits

Brothers in Arms
Brothers in Arms
By Dire Straits

Warner Bros.: 1985

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This review first appeared in the August 26, 1985 issue of The Daily Aztec.

With the release of their debut album and its breakthrough single, "Sultans of Swing," in 1978, Dire Straits immediately installed themselves in the pop consciousness. However, their next two albums were rather stagnant artistically. Their fourth album, "Love Over Gold," was a big step forward musically, as Mark Knopfler and Co. (only bassist John Illsley and Knopfler remain from the original lineup) experimented with different rhythm patterns and more complex structures.

Their latest release, "Brothers in Arms," continues the growth of "Love Over Gold." If not quite as melodic as their earlier ventures, the variety of material and Knopfler's continued growth as a composer more than make up for any lack of cute tunes.

Besides, it's not as if there aren't any good melodies. "Money for Nothing" has as infectious a hook as any song Knopfler has written, and having Sting intone "I want my MTV" on the song was genius – it's gaining the band status as a cultural touchstone. There's something wonderfully ironic about having MTV play your video over and over again when it has these lyrics:

You play your guitar on the MTV
That ain't working
That's the way to do it
You get money for nothing
Chicks for free

None of the other songs seems as likely to get the kind of airplay "Money for Nothing" is getting, but "So Far Away" and "Walk of Life" are two of the better tunes Knopfler has written. Both are built around catchy little guitar riffs in Knopfler's distinctively twangy style.

"Brothers in Arms" is a welcome effort, and hopeful portends yet more musical growth from Dire Straits.