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Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits album)


Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits album)

Brothers in Arms
Studio album by Dire Straits
Released 13 May 1985 (1985-05-13)
Recorded November 1984 – March 1985
Studio AIR Studios, Montserrat
Length 55:07[Note 1]
Dire Straits chronology
Brothers in Arms
Money for Nothing
Singles from Brothers in Arms
  1. "So Far Away"
    Released: 8 April 1985
  2. "Money for Nothing"
    Released: 24 June 1985
  3. "Brothers in Arms"
    Released: 14 October 1985
  4. "Walk of Life"
    Released: 30 December 1985
  5. "Your Latest Trick"
    Released: 28 April 1986

Brothers in Arms is the fifth studio album by the British rock band Dire Straits, released on 13 May 1985 by Vertigo Records internationally, and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. Brothers in Arms charted at number one worldwide, spending ten weeks at number one on the UK Album Chart (between 18 January and 22 March 1986), nine weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and thirty-four weeks at number one on the Australian Album Chart. The album is the eighth-best-selling album in UK chart history, is certified nine-times platinum in the United States, and is one of the world's best-selling albums, having sold over 30 million copies worldwide.[1][2][3][4]

The album won two Grammy Awards in 1986, and also won Best British Album at the 1987 Brit Awards.[5][6] Q magazine placed the album at number 51 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[7] Brothers in Arms would become Dire Straits' final album until they reunited and recorded 1991's On Every Street.


  • Recording 1
  • Release 2
  • Composition 3
  • Artwork 4
  • Critical reception 5
    • Reviews 5.1
    • Accolades 5.2
  • Track listings 6
    • CD and cassette 6.1
    • LP 6.2
  • Personnel 7
  • Charts 8
    • Albums 8.1
    • Place on best of all time 8.2
    • Singles 8.3
  • Awards 9
  • Sales and certifications 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Brothers in Arms was recorded from November 1984 to March 1985 at AIR Studios on the island of Montserrat, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean.[8] The album was produced by Mark Knopfler and Neil Dorfsman. Knopfler became aware of Dorfsman through his 1981 recording of the Wanderlust album by jazz vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. In 1982, Knopfler asked Dorfsman to work with him on the 1982 Dire Straits album, Love over Gold, and his 1983 soundtrack album Local Hero.[9] Brothers in Arms was one of the first albums to be recorded on a Sony 24-track digital tape machine. The decision to move to digital recording came from Knopfler's constant striving for better sound quality. "One of the things that I totally respected about him," Dorfsman observed, "was his interest in technology as a means of improving his music. He was always willing to spend on high-quality equipment."[9]

Before arriving at Montserrat, Knopfler had written all the songs and rehearsed them with the band. The studio lineup included Knopfler (guitar), John Illsley (bass), Terry Williams (drums), Alan Clark (piano and Hammond B3), and Guy Fletcher, who was new to the band, playing a synth rig that consisted of a huge new Yamaha DX1, a couple of Roland keyboards, and a Synclavier. The studio itself was small, with a 20 x 25-foot recording space that offered virtually no isolation. "It was a good-sounding studio," Dorfsman later recalled, "but the main room itself was nothing to write home about. The sound of that studio was the desk," referring to the Neve 8078 board.[9]

Knopfler and Dorfsman utilised the limited space to best effect, placing the drum kit in the far left corner, facing the control room, miked with Sennheiser MD421s on the toms, an Electro-Voice RE20 and AKG D12 on the kick drum, a Shure SM57 and AKG C451 with a 20dB pad on the snare, 451s for overheads and the hi-hat, and Neumann U87s set back a little to capture "some kind of ambience".[9] They placed the piano in a tight booth in the far right corner of the studio, miked with AKG C414s. The Hammond B3 was placed nearby, with its Leslie speaker crammed into an airlock next to the control room. Illsley's bass amplifier was recorded inside a small vocal booth with a Neumann FET 47 and a DI unit. Knopfler's amplifiers were miked with 57s, 451s, and Neumann U67s. Fletcher's synths were placed in the control room.[9]

During the recording of "Money for Nothing", the signature sound of Knopfler's guitar may have been enhanced by a "happy accident" of microphone placement. Knopfler was using his Gibson Les Paul going through a Laney amplifier. While setting up the guitar amplifier microphones in an effort to get the "ZZ Top sound" that Knopfler was after, guitar tech Ron Eve, who was in the control room, heard the "amazing" sound before Dorfsman was finished arranging the mics. "One mic was pointing down at the floor," Dorfsman remembered, "another was not quite on the speaker, another was somewhere else, and it wasn't how I would want to set things up—it was probably just left from the night before, when I'd been preparing things for the next day and had not really finished the setup."[9] What they heard was exactly what ended up on the record; no additional processing or effects were used during the mix.[9]

According to a 2006 Sound on Sound magazine interview with the co-producer/engineer of the album, Neil Dorfsman, then-permanent drummer Terry Williams' studio performances were found to be lacking during the first month of the recording sessions. He was therefore quickly replaced by Omar Hakim, who happened to be Sting's studio and touring drummer at that time. Omar Hakim recorded the entire album's drum parts in two days and then left. On the finished product, Terry Williams' only drum contribution is the improvised crescendo at the beginning of "Money for Nothing". Everything else features Omar Hakim's drumming. Williams would be back in the band for the music videos and the tour.


Brothers in Arms was one of the first albums to be directed at the CD market, and was a full digital recording (DDD) at a time when most popular music was recorded on analog equipment. It was also released on vinyl (abridged to fit on one LP) and cassette. However, while it was listed as "DDD", producer Neil Dorfsman says the digital multitrack was mixed on an analog board with the resulting two track mix re-digitized via a Prism A/D converter and recorded on a DAT machine, so really the recording was DAD.

Brothers in Arms was the first album to sell one million copies in the CD format and to outsell its LP version. A Rykodisc employee would subsequently write, "[In 1985 we] were fighting to get our CDs manufactured because the entire worldwide manufacturing capacity was overwhelmed by demand for a single rock title (Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms)."[10]

It was remastered and released with the rest of the Dire Straits catalogue in 1996 for most of the world outside the United States and on 19 September 2000 in the United States. It was also released in XRCD2 format in 2000, then the 20th Anniversary Edition was issued in Super Audio CD format on 26 July 2005 (becoming the 3000th title for the SACD format) and DualDisc format with DVD-Audio 24 bit/96 kHz track on 16 August 2005, remixed in 5.1 by Chuck Ainlay[11] and winning a Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album at the 48th Grammy Awards ceremony.[12]

In 2006, a half-speed-mastered vinyl version of the album was issued. Mastered by Stan Ricker, this version consists of four sides on two 33 1/3 rpm discs, containing the full-length songs on vinyl for the first time.

In 2013, a hybrid SACD mastered from the original tapes was released by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab.

In 2014, a new master was released in Japan on SHM-SACD - it's made from the original tapes and contains the original LP length of the album: 47:44 min.

In 2015, the album re-entered the UK Album Charts at #8 following the record being made available at a discounted price on digital music retailers. The album has spent a total of 356 weeks on the UK Album Charts.[13]


"Money for Nothing" was one of the most played music videos on MTV during the era. It is one of only two Dire Straits songs on a studio album to not be solely credited to Mark Knopfler – Sting was given a co-writing credit.

"Walk of Life" was a number 2 hit for the band in the UK in early 1986 and a number 7 hit in the United States later that year. The song was nearly left off the album, but was included after the band out-voted producer Neil Dorfsman.

On the second side of the album, three songs ("Ride Across the River", "The Man's Too Strong" and "Brothers in Arms") are lyrically focused on militarism.

"Ride Across the River" uses immersive Latin American imagery, accompanied by synthesized pan flute, a reggae-influenced drum part and eerie background noises. "The Man's Too Strong" depicts the character of an ancient soldier (or war criminal) and his fear of showing feelings as a weakness. "Brothers in Arms" deals with the senselessness of war.


The guitar featured on the front of the album cover is Mark Knopfler's 1937 National Style 0 Resonator. The Style 0 line of guitars was introduced in 1930 and discontinued in 1941. The photographer was Deborah Feingold.[14] The same guitar was eventually used, with a similar color scheme, for the 1989 album The Booze Brothers by Brewers Droop. Although recorded in 1973, the album by Brewers Droop was not released until 1989, when it was discovered that the album had involved the renowned producer/rocker Dave Edmunds and the line-up had included Pick Withers and Mark Knopfler, later of Dire Straits.[15] The back cover features a painting of the same guitar, by German artist Thomas Steyer.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [16]
Robert Christgau B−[17]
Rolling Stone Mixed[18]


In his retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album four out of five stars, crediting the international success of the album not only to the clever computer-animated video for "Money for Nothing", but also to Knopfler's "increased sense of pop songcraft".[16] The "indelible guitar riff" on "Money for Nothing", the catchy up-tempo boogie of "Walk of Life", the melodies of "So Far Away" and the Everly Brothers-style "Why Worry", the jazzy "Your Latest Trick", and the flinty "Ride Across the River"—Dire Straits had "never been so concise or pop-oriented, and it wore well on them." Erlewine concluded that the album remains "one of their most focused and accomplished albums, and in its succinct pop sense, it's distinctive within their catalog."[16]

In her contemporary review for Rolling Stone magazine, Debby Bull gave the album a mixed review, praising the "carefully crafted" effort, writing, "The record is beautifully produced, with Mark Knopfler's terrific guitar work catching the best light."[18] Although she found the lyrics literate, Bull noted that the scenarios "aren't as interesting as they used to be on records like Making Movies".[18] Despite the production values and notable contributions from guest artists like drummer Omar Hakim and the Brecker Brothers, Bull concluded that "the music lacks the ache that made Knopfler's recent soundtracks for Comfort and Joy and Cal so powerful."[18]

Robert Christgau gave the album a B– score, writing that "the first side moves with simple generosity, not a virtue one associates with this studio guitarist's ego trip. But it's too late for the old bluesboy to suck us into his ruminations of the perfidy of woman and the futility of political struggle, and 'Money for Nothing' is also a benchmark of pop hypocrisy."[17]


In 1986, Brothers in Arms won two Grammy Awards at the 28th Grammy Awards, and also won Best British Album at the 1987 Brit Awards.[5][6] In 2000, Q magazine placed the album at number 51 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[7] In 2003, the album ranked number 351 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[19]

In November 2006, the results of a national poll conducted by the public of Australia revealed their top 100 favourite albums. Brothers in Arms came in at number 64 (see "My Favourite Album"). Brothers in Arms is ranked number 3 in the best albums of 1985 and number 31 in the best albums of the 1980s.

As of June 2012, Brothers in Arms is the seventh-best-selling album of all-time in the UK, the third-best-selling album of all-time in Australia, the 18th-best-selling album of all-time in France and the 109th-best-selling album in the United States.[20] In the Netherlands, the album still holds the record for longest run ever on the Dutch Album chart with 269 weeks (non-consecutive).

British music journalist Robert Sandall wrote:

Looked at now with 20/20 vision of hindsight, the image on the sleeve of Brothers in Arms seems uncannily prophetic: that National steel guitar heading up into the clouds—a shiny 6 stringed rocket devoid of any obvious means of propulsion—describes, better than any words can, what happened to Dire Straits after the release of their 5th studio album. Up till the summer of 1985 success had, for them, come as a by-product of the music making process. They had never courted celebrity, chased fads, or played safe. Dire Straits had been loved and respected as one of the few bands to have maintained strong and credible links with the multifarious roots of rock and roll at a time—remember all the desperate pop posing of the early 80s?—when roots were emphatically not a fashionable place to be"[21]

Track listings

All songs were written by Mark Knopfler, except where indicated. The track lengths on the LP version differ from the lengths on the CD and cassette versions, due to the limitations of the vinyl medium. The full tracks would not all fit on a single disc.

CD and cassette

No. Title Length
1. "So Far Away"   5:12
2. "Money for Nothing" (Mark Knopfler, Sting) 8:26
3. "Walk of Life"   4:12
4. "Your Latest Trick"   6:33
5. "Why Worry"   8:31
6. "Ride Across the River"   6:58
7. "The Man's Too Strong"   4:40
8. "One World"   3:40
9. "Brothers in Arms"   7:00
Total length:


Side one
No. Title Length
1. "So Far Away"   3:59
2. "Money for Nothing" (Mark Knopfler, Sting) 7:04
3. "Walk of Life"   4:12
4. "Your Latest Trick"   4:46
5. "Why Worry"   5:22
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Ride Across the River"   6:58
7. "The Man's Too Strong"   4:40
8. "One World"   3:40
9. "Brothers in Arms"   7:00
Total length:


Dire Straits
Additional musicians
  • Mark Knopfler – producer
  • Neil Dorfsman – producer, engineer
  • Steve Jackson – assistant engineer
  • Bruce Lampcov – assistant engineer
  • John Dent – mastering
  • Sutton Cooper – photography (sleeve)
  • Deborah Feingold – photography
  • Thomas Steyer – painting


Brothers in Arms was a major commercial success worldwide:

  • In Australia, the album was the biggest selling album in 1985 and the second best selling album in 1986. It topped the albums chart for 34 weeks (non-consecutive), and is the album with the second most weeks at number-one in ARIA Albums Chart.
  • In the Netherlands, the album broke the all-time record for the longest chart history, with 269 weeks (non-consecutive).
  • In the UK, the album reached number one on the UK Albums Chart, and remained on the chart for 228 weeks.[22]
  • In the United States, the album reached number one on the Billboard 200 and remained there for nine weeks.
  • The album also topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Yugoslavia.


Chart (1985) Peak
Australia Albums Chart 1
Austria Albums Chart 1
Belgium Albums Chart 1
Canadian Albums Chart 1
Dutch Albums Chart 1
Finland Albums Chart 1
French Albums Chart 1
Germany Albums Chart 1
Greece Albums Chart 1
Ireland Albums Chart 1
Israel Albums Chart 1
Italy Albums Chart 4
Norway Albums Chart 2
New Zealand Albums Chart 1
Portugal Albums Chart 1
Sweden Albums Chart 1
Swiss Albums Chart 1
Turkey Albums Chart 1
UK Albums Chart 1
US Billboard 200 1

Place on best of all time

Country Peak
Australia Albums Chart 3
Austria Albums Chart 14
Dutch Albums Chart 1
France Albums Chart 18
Norway Albums Chart 36
New Zealand Albums Chart 9
Swiss Albums Chart 26
UK Albums Chart 8


Year Song US US
Australia Austria Dutch France Italy Norway Sweden Swiss UK
1985 "Money for Nothing" 1 1 4 7 27 34 4
1985 "One World" 8
1985 "So Far Away" 29 22 23 33 4 7 6 20
1985 "Brothers in Arms" 57 59 16
1986 "Walk of Life" 7 6 11 18 20 24 2
1986 "Ride Across the River" 21
1986 "So Far Away" 19
1986 "Your Latest Trick" 1A 26
  • A – reached No. 1 in France in 1993


Grammy Awards
Year Winner Category
1985 Brothers in Arms Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical
1985 "Money for Nothing" Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
2006 Brothers in Arms Best Surround Sound Album

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[23] Gold 30,000x
Australia (ARIA)[24] 17× Platinum 1,190,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[25] 4× Platinum 200,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[26] Diamond 1,000,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[27] 2× Platinum 116,784[27]
France (SNEP)[28] Diamond 1,995,300[29]
Germany (BVMI)[30] Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[31] Platinum 20,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[32] 24× Platinum 360,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[33] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Sweden (GLF)[34] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[35] 6× Platinum 300,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] 13× Platinum 4,415,777[37]
United States (RIAA)[38] 9× Platinum 9,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also


  1. ^ The album length of the original LP is 47:21.
  2. ^ According to a 2006 Sound on Sound magazine interview with the co-producer/engineer of the album, Neil Dorfsman, then-permanent drummer Terry Williams' performance was found to be unsuitable for the desired sound of the album during the first month of the recording sessions. He was therefore temporarily replaced by one of the most popular jazz session drummers of the time, Omar Hakim, who recorded the whole album's drum parts in two days and then left. Terry Williams' only contribution is the improvised crescendo at the beginning of "Money for Nothing". Everything else features Hakim's drumming, although Williams would be back in the band for the music videos and the tour.[9]
  1. ^ "Brothers in Arms". RIAA. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Lane, Dan (28 February 2012). "Adele overtakes Michael Jackson...". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Queen head all-time sales chart". BBC News. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mark Knopfler hurt in crash". BBC News. 18 March 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Winners", Awards, Grammy, retrieved 11 May 2007 
  6. ^ a b "1987", Awards, UK: Brit, retrieved 26 December 2011 
  7. ^ a b "Lists", Q Magazine (UK), retrieved 26 December 2011 
  8. ^ Brothers in Arms (booklet). Dire Straits. Warner Bros. Records. 1985. p. 5. 947773-2. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Buskin, Richard (May 2006). "'"Classic Tracks: Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing. Sound on Sound. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "It was 20 — or maybe not — years ago today". Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2006. 
  11. ^ "High Fidelity Review - Interview with Chuck Ainlay, who remixed album in 5.1". Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  12. ^ Billboard 18 Feb 2006 Billboard Retrieved: 30 December 2010.
  13. ^ "Official Albums Chart UK Top 100". Official Charts. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Dire Straits/Brothers in Arms". BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  15. ^ The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, ISBN 0-85112-939-0
  16. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Brothers in Arms". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Dire Straits". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c d Bull, Debby (4 July 1985). "Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Lists", Rolling Stone, retrieved 26 December 2011 
  20. ^ "Top 100 Albums". Gold & platinum.  
  21. ^ CD sleeve of the remastered 1996 version of the album. Retrieved on 9 April 2012.
  22. ^ "Chart Stats - Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms". Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms".  
  24. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Albums".  
  25. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms" (in German).   Enter Dire Straits in the field Interpret. Enter Brothers in Arms in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  26. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms".  
  27. ^ a b "Dire Straits" (in Finnish).  
  28. ^ "French album certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DIRE STRAITS and click OK
  29. ^ "Les Albums Diamant :" (in French). Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  30. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Dire Straits; 'Brothers in Arms')" (in German).  
  31. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1988".  
  32. ^ Scapolo, Dean (2007). The Complete New Zealand Music Charts 1966-2006.  
  33. ^ "Sólo Éxitos 1959-2002 Año A Año: Certificados 1979-1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. 
  34. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2002" (PDF) (in Swedish).  
  35. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Dire Straits; 'Brothers In Arms')". Hung Medien. 
  36. ^ "British album certifications – Dido – Brothers in Arms".   Enter Brothers in Arms in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  37. ^ Jones, Alan (14 February 2015). "Official Charts Analysis: Ellie Goulding knocks Uptown Funk! from singles top spot with sales of 172,368".  
  38. ^ "American album certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links

  • Brothers in Arms at Mark Knopfler official website
  • Brothers in Arms (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
Preceded by
Songs from the Big Chair
by Tears for Fears
Billboard 200 number-one album
31 August 1985 – 1 November 1985
Succeeded by
Miami Vice I by Various Artists
Preceded by
Hits 2 by Various Artists
Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
Now That's What I Call Music 6 by Various Artists
UK number one album
25 May 1985 – 7 June 1985
3 August 1985 – 16 August 1985
18 January 1986 – 28 March 1986
Succeeded by
Our Favourite Shop by The Style Council
Now That's What I Call Music 5 by Various Artists
Hits 4 by Various Artists
Preceded by
No Jacket Required by Phil Collins
Be Yourself Tonight by Eurythmics
Listen Like Thieves by INXS
For the Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
27 May – 30 June 1985
29 July – 13 October 1985
28 October – 15 December 1985
3 February 1986 – 20 April 1986
Succeeded by
Be Yourself Tonight by Eurythmics
Listen Like Thieves by INXS
For the Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
The Dream of the Blue Turtles by Sting
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