Today marks 40 years since Dire Straits released their self-titled debut album through Vertigo Records. It was the album that first introduced the rolling verses, and smooth guitar strokes of “Sultans of Swing”, a song that assisted in catapulting the British rock quartet into the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States, paving the road for further, numerous album successes.
Namely, official website of John Illsley the ex-guitarist from Dire Straits have published the story below. John reflects on the recording process:
“We had a small advance from the record company, luckily we didn’t have to fund Pick’s smoking or petrol anymore (Pick originally would only turn up to rehearsals on condition we laid on smokes and fuel), the label was generally positive but only a few people in the company seemed to know what they were talking about. An example of this was when we were summoned to the MD’s office after the album was finished and he was awash with whiskey, he put the record on at the beginning, which was ‘Down to the Waterline’, then turned to us and said “Sultans, this is a great track!!”
What was your fondest memory, and biggest fear when recording the album?
“Hearing back what we had been playing for months in London pubs and clubs as ‘a record’ was certainly a fond memory… The fear was that we might not sell many albums and we would owe the record company £12,500. It went on to sell 15 million so they got their money back.”
What was the recording process like?
“Can you imagine the delight of being let loose on Basing Street Studios with a bunch of songs we had been playing for months on the circuit, with Muff Winwood and Rhett Davies in control of production and Engineering. We literally went in and played the pub set and they recorded it, a few overdubs, a couple of fixes and there you have it.”
Favorite song off the album to perform?
“It has to be Sultans of Swing; it still sounds fresh today!”
Dire Straits has since been certified as double-platinum, and remains a defining hallmark of the bands career, at the time it was an ‘out of the box’ musical concept, and aided in developing British rock as we know it.