Happy Anniversary: Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Happy Anniversary: Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

29 years ago today, Dire Straits released the album that proved to be the most significant commercial success of their career…and then some: not only has Brothers in Arms sold 30 million copies worldwide, it topped the UK album chart for 10 weeks (it’s the eighth best-selling album in UK chart history), topped the US album chart for nine weeks (which, as it happens, is one week for each time it’s gone platinum), and topped the Australian album chart for 34 freaking weeks, which –while not proving it – certainly does nothing to dispel our time-tested theory: Australians love Mark Knopfler.

A full digital recording, Brothers in Arms was the first album to sell one million copies on CD as well as the first album to have its CD release outsell its LP release, thereby officially sealing the fate of vinyl…well, you know, until a few decades later, when hipsters decided it was cool to buy records again. (You know we’re kidding, right? #GoTeamVinyl ) The album also pulled off the decidedly rare feat of having six of its nine tracks released as singles in various countries – the two holdouts: “Why Worry” and “The Man’s Too Strong” – but an even more extraordinary accomplishment is that they all earned significant chart placements somewhere or other. Obviously, “Money for Nothing,” “Walk of Life,” and “So Far Away” were all pretty big worldwide, but the rest varied in the location of their successes: the album’s title track was a hit on the UK, Australian, and Dutch charts but not in the States, “One World” and “Ride Across the River” only made an impact on the US Rock charts, and “Your Latest Trick” didn’t chart in the States, only hit #26 in the UK, but actually topped the French charts. Granted, it didn’t happen until 1993 for some reason, but, hey, it still happened, and that’s what counts.

Unfortunately, due to its absurdly huge commercial success, Brothers in Arms proved impossible to match, let alone top: Dire Straits only released one more studio album – On Every Street, which took six years to finally hit stores – before Mark Knopfler decided to call it quits on the band and finally make a go of it as a full-time solo artist. Although Dire Straits are still fondly remembered for plenty of other material in their back catalog, for mainstream audiences around the world, Brothers in Arms will always be the one to beat.