Another landmark collection of MTV hits in the 1980s was the next release from Dire Straits, “Brothers in Arms”. It is an interesting contrast of music, where the first three songs were all massive hits, and the next six are an eclectic mix of songs I really don’t think I have ever heard before, even as this album was a big success. This album is rated #418 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The first song, which is my favorite track on the album, is a song I can certainly relate to these days. It is the slow beat of “So Far Away”, which is Mark Knopfler’s lament of a long-distance relationship. I feel you, Mark. That said, it is a really pretty song and definitely my favorite song on this record.
Next comes the massive single and video hit, “Money for Nothing”. Framed around guest vocalist Sting hauntingly chanting that he wants his MTV, this mega-hit presents a blue-collar view of prima-donna rock stars and how easy and work-free their daily lives are. It is a song that was played so much, I think we all grew weary of it, but now that nearly 40 years have passed, I appreciate it as a true time-stamp of MTV at its peak.
The third successive hit that opens the album is the cheery up-tempo pop hit, “Walk of Life”. While I enjoyed the song, I always loved the music video even more, as it was full of American sports bloopers, with the back-end of the video filled with redeeming sports highlights that includes a beautiful Michael Jordan crossover dunk and the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers celebrating their championship victory over the hated Boston Celtics. 1985 really was a great year!!!
The rest of the album is an interesting collection of songs. None are pop hits, and not many are quite as alluring as some of their earlier work. Next comes “Your Latest Trick”, which is a schmaltzy smooth jazz song, even to the point of including Michael and Randy Brecker on saxophone and trumpet. They are all great talents, but this song is a little too smooth-pop-fluff-jazz for me, as if it is late-night at Panera. The Knopfler guitar sound returns in force with “Why Worry”, a meandering but soothing guitar ballad.
The remaining four songs don’t do much for me, but they aren’t annoying to listen to either. If I was in a room and these songs were on, I probably wouldn’t turn them up, but I wouldn’t be compelled to make a change either. Knopfler’s guitar and low-key vocals are always easy to listen to, even if they don’t really grab you in this case. It is a significant album for the band, and their biggest commercial success, amidst a sea of changing musical tastes and trends.