Dire Straits and their story at Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival

Dire Straits and their story at Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival

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1977 - Dire Straits

Back in 1977 when Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler made their first steps at music stage, there was one festival which Dire Straits had their performance.

Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival is a hit double live album taken from various pop, rock and punk rock bands, new wave groups – that played at the Front Row Festival at the Hope and Anchor pub in Islington between 22 November and 15 December 1977.

This album reached number 28 in the UK Albums Chart and is released in March 1978. The album has four sides with 6-7 songs on each side. Dire Straits played their song ‘Eastbound Train’ live, and the same version was also used as the B-side of the first Dire Straits single – “Sultans of Swing”.

Tracks side A
  1. Dr. Feelgood – The Wilko Johnson band
  2. Straighten out – The Stranglers
  3. Styrofoam – The Tyla gang
  4. Don’t Munchen it – The Pirates
  5. Speed kills – The Steve Gibbons band
  6. I’m bugged – XTC
  7. I hate school – The Suburban Studs
Tracks side B
  1. Billy – The Pleasers
  2. Science friction – XTC
  3. Eastbound train – Dire Straits
  4. Bizz Fizz – Burlesque
  5. Let’s submerge – X-Ray Spex
  6. Crazy – 999
Tracks side C
  1. Demolition girl – The Saints
  2. Quite disappointing – 999
  3. Creature of doom – The only ones
  4. Gibson Martin Fender – The Pirates
  5. Sound check – Steel Pulse
  6. Zero hero – Roogalator
Tracks side D
  1. Underground romance – Philip Rambow
  2. Rock & Roll radio – The Pleasers
  3. On the street – Tyla Gang
  4. Johnny Cool – Steve Gibbons band
  5. Twenty yards behind – Wilko Johnson band
  6. Hanging around – The Stranglers

Dire Straits had their performing on 9 December 1977, but on 8 October 1977 Paul Rambali which is British writer and rock critic, published one short pre-concert news for New Musical Express, and he wrote:

“NOT AN obvious little band, this. On the face of it, Dire Straights tread a hack course through easy-rocking American vapidity, minus the Californian harmonies and surface gloss that distinguishes most L.A. product from everything else, and hence is mundane in the sweaty environs of London town. Or so I thought when I encountered them some months ago.”

“Decidedly unmoved by what seemed like four people trying to sound like J.J. Cale, I promptly forgot the name. but first impressions often bely the truth, and I thank Charlie Gillet for opening my ears. For the past few weeks he’s been playing a tape of theirs on his Honky Tonk radio show that reveals music of quite different proportions, and seeing them a second time proved me wrong and him right.”

“Dire Straights still sound like J.J. Cale, though to my mind that isn’t much to boast about (either I’m missing the irony or anyone who writes a song like “Cocaine” must be a fool). They play relaxed and urbane, not to say laid back, with a roughneck funk laziness that matches Cale for ease and authenticity.”

“Other comparison points are Ry Cooder, occasionally Beefheart, and the blues-gone sour of Randy Newman’s “Gone Dead Train”. What sets Dire Straights apart is the slide from the commonplace to the sublime. Mark Knopfler, who sings, play guitar and seems to be the group’s prime mover, has a dry and cool voice that at first disguises then highlights the wry songs.”

“His tone is acerbic dispassionate, and combined with the band’s tasteful restraint, it creates a feel that resembles Lou Reed’s “Coney Island Baby”, but mercifully without the limp-wrist and wasted contrivance. Mentioning Lou Reed, though, inevitably leads to the wrong conclusions. There are no New York echoes in Dire Straights apart from an occasional tendency towards wordy, Springsteen-like romance.”

“Rather the four-piece line-up (drums and two guitars) work an unusual combination of backporch funk and wry, sophisticated song crafting that demands almost a category of its own. Although their musical territory isn’t novel, they play with a consummate grasp of the essential qualities of the style that makes up for any musicianly shortcomings.”

“As with the music, a casual listen could miss the inherent strength, and it may take some tuning in to pick up on the considerable subtleties Dire Straights possess, but the effort is well worth the reward. They encored with a walking version of Chuck Berry’s “Nadine”, arranged in a way The Band would have been proud of, and proved themselves to be not merely hot, but sultry.”, Paul Rambali for the New Musical Express – 8 October 1977.

Interesting fact is that the name of the band was incorrect on the ticket prices.

Acts and ticket prices for December 1977. Note the incorrect spelling of Dire Straits.

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