Dire Straits was a successful British rock band who'd struck gold with their very first single, "Sultans of Swing," in 1978. But nothing prepared the world for what would happen years later when the group released its fifth studio album, Brothers in Arms. Propelled by the time-defining single, "Money for Nothing," Brothers in Arms now stands as one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Released on May 13, 1985, Brothers in Arms hit #1 for the week of August 31, 1985. It topped the chart for nine weeks over the course of a 97-week run.
So let's pull back the doors, bust open the books and take a look inside Dire Straits' 1985 classic, Brothers in Arms.
1. It's the album that jump-started compact disc sales
When the CD format was introduced in 1982, it didn't take long for the shiny silver discs with the high-end sound to become wildly popular with serious music fans. Given the album's pristine and crystal-clear sound, Brothers in Arms exploded on the format. It was the first compact disc to sell over a million copies. “Honestly, the fast growth of the CD almost killed us. See, we originally oriented Rykodisc to be for the audiophile, specialty market, which we all expected to be where the CD would be for its first 5-10 years at least," Rykodisc co-founder Robert Simonds told Inside Hook. "Within two years 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). So much for a specialty market.”
2. Brothers in Arms won two different Grammys twenty years apart
The lush production on the record earned it the award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at the 1986 Grammys. Twenty years later in 2006, the 25th anniversary edition of the record won for Best Surround Sound Album.
3. Mark Knopfler really didn't want to make the wildly popular animated video for "Money for Nothing"
Dire Straits singer and guitarist was a fan of keeping things simple. Warner Bros, in cahoots with MTV, knew they needed something more than just a band playing to really sell the song. Finally cornered after a show in Budapest, Knopfler was pressured to sign off on the clip. Ultimately, it was his very wise significant other who convinced him to let it happen: "Luckily, his girlfriend said, 'He's absolutely right. There aren't enough interesting videos on MTV, and that sounds like a brilliant idea,'" director Steve Barron told Promo magazine in 2006. "Mark didn't say anything, but he didn't make the call to get me out of Budapest. We just went ahead and did it."
4. "Walk of Life" was a bigger single in England than "Money for Nothing"
While "Money for Nothing" topped the Hot 100 in America for three weeks, in England the song peaked at #4. The song "Walk of Life," however, climbed as high as #2 in the UK. In America, "Walk of Life" peaked at #7.
5. The album's title track has helped veterans of the early 1980s Falklands conflict
In 2007, Knopfler recorded a special version of "Brothers in Arms" to raise money for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to return to the islands they freed from Argentinian occupation in 1982: “I’m touched that my song ‘Brothers in Arms’, which I wrote at the time of the Falklands war, has been chosen to support the many veterans who are still suffering from the effects of that conflict," Knopfler said in a press statement.