This review was written in 2011.
The best side one we’ve ever heard, so freakishly impressive that we awarded it the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade! On top of that, side two earned an A++ grade and the vinyl plays unusually quietly — solid Mint Minus throughout.
We award the Four Plus A++++ grade so rarely that we don’t have a graphic for it in our system to use in the grading scale.
We no longer give Four Pluses out as a matter of policy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come across records that deserve them from time to time.
This is probably the best Dire Straits album (certainly our favorite) and definitely their best sounding album; on a copy like this one it has the power to BLOW YOUR MIND. Water Of Love, Down To The Waterline and Six Blade Knife are all STUNNING on this pressing.
The sound is huge — big, rich, present, spacious and three-dimensional. It’s got the immediacy and energy needed to really bring the music out of your speakers and put it wall-to-wall in your listening room.
Side two is also very strong — open, spacious and three-dimensional with real weight down low. Side one was a pretty big step up (with a grade like A++++ it had better be!) but at A++ you’ll have a hard time finding a side two that’s any better than this.
We have a ridiculously difficult time finding copies of this album that come even close to this. You have got to hear the sound on this one to believe it; it’s present, lively, super transparent and natural with real weight to the bottom end. I’m pretty sure you’re going to take your old pressing and toss it out the window once you hear what a serious copy can do!
You may have seen our album locator for Rhett Davies. He’s one of our favorite recording engineers, the man behind Taking Tiger Mountain, 801 Live and Avalon to name just a few of his most famous recordings, all favorites of ours of course.
His Masterpiece Discovered
Well, we just have to say that until something better comes along, THIS IS HIS MASTERPIECE. It has to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, with Tubey Magic mids, prodigious bass, transparency to beat the band, and freedom from hi-fi-ishness and distortion like few rock recordings you have ever heard.
The man may be famous for some fairly artificial sounding recordings — Eno’s, Roxy Music’s and The Talking Heads’ albums come to mind — but it’s obvious to us now, if it wasn’t before, that those are entirely artistic choices, not engineering shortcomings. Rhett Davies, by virtue of the existence of this pressing alone, has proven that he belongs in the company of the greatest engineers of all time, right up there with the likes of Bill Porter, Ken Scott, Stephen Barncard, Geoff Emerick, Glyn Johns and others too numerous to mention.
We Want To Rock
What separates the best Brits from the merely good ones? In a word, ENERGY. The best copies make this band sound like they are on fire, ready to go head to head with the world, fiercely proud of the new sound they’ve created. The not-so-good copies make Dire Straits sound the way Dire Straits usually does — laid back and well under control, perhaps even a bit bored with the whole affair. The best copies show you a band that wants to rock with the best of them, and can.
Demo Disc Sound
Water Of Love and Sultans of Swing on a Hot Stamper copy have the kind of Demo Disc sound that will have your audiophile friends drooling and turning green with envy. We can’t all afford $100,000 turntables, but when you have a record that sounds this good, you don’t need one! This record makes it sound like you have 100k in your rig, whether you do or not.
Down to the Waterline
Water of Love
Setting Me Up
Six Blade Knife
Sultans of Swing
In the Gallery
Wild West End
Dire Straits’ minimalist interpretation of pub rock had already crystallized by the time they released their eponymous debut. Driven by Mark Knopfler’s spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling, the album is a set of bluesy rockers. And while the bar band mentality of pub-rock is at the core of Dire Straits — even the group’s breakthrough single, “Sultans of Swing,” offered a lament for a neglected pub rock band — their music is already beyond the simple boogies and shuffles of their forefathers, occasionally dipping into jazz and country. Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album. While a few of the songs fall flat, the album is remarkably accomplished for a debut, and Dire Straits had difficulty surpassing it throughout their career.