Dire Straits were a British band that used a variety of musical styles during their career between 1978-1991. The band blended blues, jazz, and folk elements, but were often lumped into New Wave bands of the day. The band was led by guitarist/singer Mark Knopfler, who was also group’s primary songwriter.┬áTheir debut album featured the hit “Sultans of Swing”, leading to a series of good (but not great) selling albums. But, in 1985, the delivered Brothers in Arms, which was one of the best-selling albums of the decade.

In 1983, the Compact Disc format was introduced. One unique aspect of Brothers in Arms was that it was recorded digitally and marketed extensively as “a full digital recording”. For people with the urge to try out their new CD players, Brothers in Arms became the defacto album to purchase. At one point, several CD factories were devoted solely to this single album which became the first album to sell a million copies on CD and to sell more in that format than the previously popular LP format. The album later won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album.

The lead single was “Money for Nothing“, which became a cultural milestone. The lyrics referenced the burgeoning popularity of MTV, and guest singer Sting even sung the channel’s catch-phrase, “I Want My MTV” (because this was set to the melody of The Police song “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” Sting received songwriting credit). The narrator of the song is a blue-collar workman, a point overlooked by many offended by the song’s use of “faggot”. As is often the case, Dire Straits the band wrote and recorded a song about the perils of fame, yet the song became their biggest selling single and brought them even more fame! ┬áThe song’s music video featured computer animation, a rare instance in 1985. The video later won the award for Video of the Year from the MTV Video Music Awards. The popular song and video has become a popular target for parody or tributes, such as Weird Al Yankovic’s version of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song set to the music of the song.

Aside from the number one single “Money for Nothing”, Brothers in Arms also featured the big hits “So far Away” and “Walk of Life”, both Top 20 hits. Other tracks featured on radio were “Brothers in Arms” and the atmospheric “Ride Across the River.” Brothers in Arms has since sold 9 million copies in the U.S. and 30 million worldwide.

Dire Straights broke up in 1987 due to touring pressures, but reunited for concerts periodically and for another Platinum album in 1991. After breaking up again, Knopfler has focused on solo and soundtrack work.