MUSIC

Sultans of Swing

Sultans of Swing

Released: Vertigo/Warner Bros. (1998)

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Album Credits

Album Credits
MUSICIANS
Roy Bittan
Alan Clark
Mel Collins
Danny Cummings
Guy Fletcher
Paul Franklin
Omar Hakim
John Illsley
Manu Katche
David Knopfler
Mark Knopfler
Joop de Korte
Hal Lindes
Jimmy Maelen
Mike Mainieri
Tommy Mandel
Phil Palmer
Jeff Porcaro
Sting (appears courtesy of A&M Records Inc.)
Chris White
Chris Whitten
Terry Williams
Pick Withers

PRODUCERS
Barry Becket
Neil Dorfsman
Guy Fletcher
Jimmy Iovine
Mark Knopfler
Jerry Wexler
Muff Winwood

Album Design by Rick Lecoat @ Mercury; still life photography by Josh Pulman; photos marked 'ML' ©Mark Leialoha; group photo by Brian Aris; other photos ©Chris Horler, LFI Rex Features London

Liner Notes
Perspective plays the strangest tricks. for most of their career Dire Straits have been regarded, even by critics who profess not to like them, as unstoppably successful. When they set out, it was a different story. Of all the new bands on the London pub and club circuit in 1977, Dire Straits seemed uniquely ill equipped to survive. As the fires of punk raged around them, they made no secret of their love for styles of music which the cultural commissars of the day had recently declared to be irrelevant. They sounded a bit country, a bit bluesy, not remotely shouty or angry. There was a hint of Bob Dylan in there, a bit of Celtic folk and a few nods to Chet Atkins. As for the way they looked, well, they clearly hadn't acquired their stage clobber down the King's Road. What part could this lot possibly play in the brave new world of anarchy, media manipulation and anti-musician-ship?

Aside from their consumate skills as performers, it was their complete disregard for all the fashioable nonsenses of the moment that rescued Dire Straits from the fate which swiftly overtook most of their punky contemporaries. While others lived and died in a blaze of publicity and disappointing record sales, they took the world by stealth. Their first album, Dire Straits, cost next to nothing to record, received minimal promotion and still, within a year of its release in 1978, became a massive hit. Unlike the rest of the class of '77 they made huge inroads in America, Europe and Australasia.

It wasn't so much that they discovered their audience: in many territories where the band had never been seen, and were then completely unknown, the audience found them.

Dire Straits were, above all superb communicators. Bob Dylan once said that he liked them as a group because great players though they all were, they sounded like one person. The heartfelt simplicity of their music - chiefly derived from Mark Knopfler's gruff vocals and elegantly burnished Fender guitar tone - came across in songs that sounded both fresh and timeless, and which also possessed a breathtaking accuracy. When the Straits sang about an elderly jazz band in a South London pub, as they did on their first single 'Sultans of Swing', they engraved the scene on your memory, right down to the knot of bored teenagers 'dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles' at the back. The track is a masterpiece of social observation. There are plently more like it. Listening to this compilation all through you're struck by the fact that the lyrics to these songs never engage ina rhyming for its own sake. As a lifelong fan of country music, Knopfler relishes the role of the singer as storyteller and his songs are full of poignant situations and vivid street characters.

They are often funny too. In what may be Dire Straits most celebrated song, 'Money For Nothing,' a salesman in a consumer electronics store in New York bitches about rock stars and - blisters on their little fingers aside - the easy life they lead. At the other end of Knopfler's spectrum as a lyricist there are songs like 'So Far Away' which express the painof separation with a touching directness and lack of artifice. Somewhere in the middle comes 'Romeo & Juliet,' the best remembered tne from their third album Making Movies. This is in many ways quintessential Dire Straits, a deeply emotional but profoundly skeptical take on true romance as enacted by a street musician whose back-to-basics chat up line - 'you and me babe, How about it?' - is made bizarrely persuasive by the sweetness of the surrounding music. In Dire Straits' world, you never quite know whether you've been suckered, or suddenly been dealt a winning hand. But hey, that's life. Love the ambivalence.

Their sound changed noticeably across the 6 studio albums. They started spry and clean, exactly the way they were live, then proceeded to expand and experiment with the recording process. After Making Movies, there were more spacious and atmospheric sound effecs, as witness the spooky twists and baroque pianistic flourishes in 'Private Investigations from the Love Over Gold album. Knopfler then developed an allergy for big studio productions, and their time consuming search for perfect drum sounds and the rest. The result was the Twisting By The Pool EP which took a day to record. The next album Brothers In Arms was full of quiet moments and sparse arrangements, made a lot of upbeat, cheerful noise. Quite why a collection of songs as subtly understated as this should have introduced a generation of listeners to the compact disc remains a bit of a mystery; maybe as Knopfler has always assumed, ordinary people have good taste.

On Every Street, the only Dire Straits album of the 1990's had a rootsier feel than anything they recorded in the 1980's, flagging Knopfler's oft articulated desire to leave the rocks star fol-di-rol behind. The band are currently on hold. We await further developments in the knowledge that there might not be any. What remains is an astonishingly diverse catalogue of hits. for a group who have never been particularly viewed as a 'singles band,' Dire Straits have done some fantastic work in this area. Thanks to Knopfler's strong melodic instints and structural ingenuity as a tunesmith Dire Straits have always functioned principally as a vehicle for songs rather than, as is the way with lots of bands, an excuse to rock out.

And reasoned commentary aside, let's get personal: anybody who finds nothing to love here has either got a problem with the essential fabric of rock and roll, or cloth ears.

- Robert Sandall

Released 10 years after Dire Straits first compilation album, Money for Nothing, Sultans of Swing features the best songs from Dire Straits.

Sultans of Swing

  • 1. Sultans Of Swing
    You get a shiver in the dark
    It’s been raining in the park but meantime
    South of the river you stop and you hold everything
    A band is blowing Dixie double four time
    You feel all right when you hear that music ring

    You step inside but you don’t see too many faces
    Coming in out of the rain to hear the jazz go down
    Too much competition, too many other places
    But not too many horns can make that sound
    Way on down south, way on down south London town

    You check out Guitar George he knows all the chords
    Mind he’s strictly rhythm
    He doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
    And an old guitar is all he can afford
    When he gets up under the lights to play his thing

    And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
    He’s got a daytime job he’s doing alright
    He can play honky tonk just like anything
    Saving it up for Friday night
    With the Sultans, with the Sultans of Swing

    And a crowd of young boys they’re fooling around in the corner
    Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles
    They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band
    It ain’t what they call rock and roll
    And the Sultans, the Sultans played Creole

    And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
    And says at last just as the time bell rings
    ‘Thank you, goodnight, now it’s time to go home’
    And he makes it fast with one more thing
    ‘We are the Sultans of Swing’
  • 2. Lady Writer
    Lady Writer on the TV
    Talk about the Virgin Mary
    Reminded me of you
    Expectations left to come up to yeah

    Lady writer on the TV
    Yeah, she had another quality
    The way you used to look
    And I know you never read a book

    Just the way that her hair fell down around her face
    Then I recall my fall from grace
    Another time, another place

    Lady writer on the TV
    She had all the brains and the beauty
    The picture does not fit
    You talked to me when you felt like it

    Just the way that her hair fell down around her face
    Then I recall my fall from grace
    Another time, another place

    Yes and your rich old man
    You know he’d call her a dead ringer
    You got the same command
    Plus you mother was a jazz singer

    Just the way that her hair fell down around her face
    Then I recall my fall from grace
    Another time, another place

    Lady writer on the TV
    She knew all about a history
    You couldn’t hardly write your name
    I think I want you just the same as the

    Lady writer on the TV
    Talking about the Virgin Mary
    Yeah you know I’m talking about you and me
    And the lady writer on the TV
    Lady writer on the TV
    Talking about the Virgin Mary
    Yeah you know I’m talking about you and me
    And the lady writer on the TV
  • 3. Romeo and Juliet
    A lovestruck Romeo sings a streetsusss serenade
    Laying everybody low with a lovesong that he made
    Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
    Says something like you and me babe how about it?

    Juliet says hey it’s Romeo you nearly gimme a heart attack
    He’s underneath the window she’s singing hey la my boyfriend’s back
    You shouldn’t come around here singing up at people like that
    Anyway what you gonna do about it

    Juliet the dice were loaded from the start
    And I bet and you exploded in my heart
    And I forget I forget the movie song
    When you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

    Come up on different streets they both were streets of shame
    Both dirty both mean yes and the dream was just the same
    And I dreamed your dream for you and now your dream is real
    How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?

    When you can fall for chains of silver you can fall for chains of gold
    You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold
    You promised me everything you promised me thick and thin
    Now you just says oh Romeo yeah you know I used to have a scene with him

    Juliet when we made love you used to cry
    You said I love you like the stars above I’ll love you till I die
    There’s a place for us you know the movie song
    When you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

    I can’t do the talk like they talk on TV
    And I can’t do a love song like the way it’s meant to be
    I can’t do everything but I’d do anything for you
    I can’t do anything except be in love with you

    And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be
    All I do is keep the beat and bad company
    All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme
    Julie I’d do the stars with you any time

    Juliet when we made love you used to cry
    You said I love you like the stars above I’ll love you till I die
    There’s a place for us you know the movie song
    When you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

    A lovestruck Romeo sings a streetsuss serenade
    Laying everybody low with a lovesong that he made
    Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
    Says something like you and me babe how about it?
  • 4. Tunnel of Love
    Getting crazy on the waltzers but it’s the life that I choose
    Sing about the sixblade sing about the switchback and a torture tattoo
    And I been riding on a ghost train where the cars they scream and slam
    And I don’t know where I’ll be tonight but I’d always tell you where I am

    In a screaming ring of faces I seen her standing in the light
    She had a ticket for the races just like me she was a victim of the night
    I put a hand upon the lever said let it rock and let it roll
    I had the one arm bandit fever there was an arrow through my heart and my soul

    And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
    And I’m just high on the world
    Come on and take a low ride with me girl
    On the tunnel of love

    It’s just the danger when you’re riding at your own risk
    She said you are the perfect stranger she said baby let’s keep it like this
    It’s just a cake walk twisting baby step right up and say
    Hey mister give me two give me two ‘cos any two can play

    And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
    And I’m just high on the world
    Come on and take a low ride with me girl
    On the tunnel of love

    Well it’s been money for muscle another whirligig
    Money for muscle and another girl I dig
    Another hustle just to make it big
    And rockaway rockaway

    And girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
    Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids
    Oh girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
    Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids

    She took off a silver locket she said remember me by this
    She put her hand in my pocket I got a keepsake and a kiss
    And in the roar of the dust and diesel I stood and watched her walk away
    I could have caught up with her easy enough but something must have made me stay

    And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
    And I’m just high on the world
    Come on and take a low ride with me girl
    On the tunnel of love

    And now I’m searching through these carousels and the carnival arcades
    Searching everywhere from steeplechase to palisades
    In any shooting gallery where promises are made
    To rockaway rockaway from Cullercoats and Whitley bay out to rockaway

    And girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
    Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids
    Girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
    Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids
  • 5. Private Investigations
    It’s a mystery to me – the game commences
    for the usual fee – plus expenses
    confidential information – it’s in a diary
    this is my investigation – it’s not a public inquiry

    I go checking out the reports – digging up the dirt
    you get to meet all sorts in this line of work
    treachery and treason – there’s always an excuse for it
    and when I find the reason I still can’t get used to it

    And what have you got at the end of the day?
    what have you got to take away?
    a bottle of whiskey and a new set of lies
    blinds on the window and a pain behind the eyes

    Scarred for life – no compensation
    private investigations

    ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS
    Mike Mainieri: vibes & marimbas
  • 6. Twisting By the Pool
    We’re going on a holiday now
    Gonna take a villa, a small chalet
    On the Costa del Magnifico
    Where the cost of living is so low

    Yeah, we’re gonna be so neat
    Dance to the Eurobeat
    Yeah, we’re gonna be so cool
    Twisting by the pool

    Sitting in a small cafe now
    Swing, swing, swingin to the cabaret
    You wanna see a movie, take in a show now
    Meet new people at the disco

    Yeah, we’re gonna be so neat
    Dance to the Eurobeat
    Yeah, we’re gonna be so cool
    Twisting by the pool

    And we can still get information
    Reading all about inflation
    And you’re never gonna be out of reach
    There’s a call-box on the beach

    Mmm, you’re gonna look so cute
    Sunglasses and bathing suites
    Be the baby of my dreams
    Like the ladies in the magazine

    Yeah, we’re gonna be so neat
    Dance to the Eurobeat
    Yeah, we’re gonna be so cool
    Twisting by the pool

    I’m a twisting fool
    Just twisting, yeah twisting
    Twisting by the pool
  • 7. Love Over Gold (live)
    You walk out on the high wire
    You’re a dancer on thin ice
    You pay no heed to the danger
    And less to advice
    Your footsteps are forbidden
    But with knowledge of your sin
    You throw your love to all the strangers
    And caution to the wind

    And you go dancing through doorways
    Just to see what you will find
    Leaving nothing to interfere
    With the crazy balance of your mind
    And when you finally reappear
    At the place where you came in
    You’ve thrown your love to all the strangers
    And caution to the wind

    It takes love over gold
    And mind over matter
    To do what you do that you must
    When the things that you hold
    Can fall and be shattered
    Or run through your fingers like dust
  • 8. So Far Away
    Here I am again in this mean old town
    And you’re so far away from me
    And where are you when the sun goes down
    You’re so far away from me

    So far away from me
    So far I just can’t see
    So far away from me
    You’re so far away from me

    I’m tired of being in love and being all alone
    When you’re so far away from me
    I’m tired of making out on the telephone
    And you’re so far away from me

    So far away from me
    So far I just can’t see
    So far away from me
    You’re so far away from me

    I get so tired when I have to explain
    When you’re so far away from me
    See you been in the sun and I’ve been in the rain
    And you’re so far away from me

    So far away from me
    So far I just can’t see
    So far away from me
    You’re so far away from me
  • 9. Money For Nothing
    Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
    You play the guitar on the MTV
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free

    Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb
    Maybe get a blister on your little finger
    Maybe get a blister on your thumb

    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchen deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s

    See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
    Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
    That little faggot got his own jet airplane
    That little faggot he’s a millionaire

    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchens deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s

    I shoulda learned to play the guitar
    I shoulda learned to play them drums
    Look at that mama, she got it stickin’ in the camera
    Man we could have some fun

    And he’s up there, what’s that? Hawaiian noises?
    Bangin’ on the bongoes like a chimpanzee
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Get your money for nothin’ get your chicks for free

    We gotta install microwave ovens
    Custom kitchen deliveries
    We gotta move these refrigerators
    We gotta move these colour TV’s

    Lord, now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    You play the guitar on the MTV
    That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
    Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free

    Money for nothin’ and chicks for free

    ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS
    Sting: vocals
  • 10. Brothers In Arms
    These mist covered mountains
    Are a home now for me
    But my home is the lowlands
    And always will be

    Some day you’ll return to
    Your valleys and your farms
    And you’ll no longer burn
    To be brothers in arms

    Through these fields of destruction
    Baptisms of fire
    I’ve watched all your suffering
    As the battles raged higher

    And though they did hurt me so bad
    In the fear and alarm
    You did not desert me
    My brothers in arms

    There’s so many different worlds
    So many different suns
    And we have just one world
    But we live in different ones

    Now the sun’s gone to hell
    And the moon’s riding high
    Let me bid you farewell
    Every man has to die

    But it’s written in the starlight
    And every line on your palm
    We’re fools to make war
    On our brothers in arms
  • 11. Walk Of Life
    Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
    Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
    Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay

    He got the action, he got the motion
    Yeah, the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
    He do the song about the knife
    He do the walk, he do the walk of life

    Here comes Johnny and he’ll tell you the story
    Hand me down my walkin’ shoes
    Here come Johnny with the power and the glory
    Backbeat the talkin’ blues

    He got the action, he got the motion
    Yeah, the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
    He do the song about the knife
    He do the walk, he do the walk of life

    Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
    Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
    Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay

    He got the action, he got the motion
    Yeah the boy can play
    Dedication devotion
    Turning all the night time into the day

    And after all the violence and double talk
    There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife
    You do the walk, you do the walk of life
  • 12. Calling Elvis
    Calling Elvis – is anybody home
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone
    Did he leave the building
    Or can he come to the phone
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone

    Well tell him I was calling just to wish him well
    Let me leave my number – heartbreak hotel
    Oh love me tender – baby don’t be cruel
    Return to sender – treat me like a fool

    Calling Elvis – is anybody home
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone
    Did he leave the building
    Can he come to the phone
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone

    Why don’t you go get him – I’m his biggest fan
    You gotta tell him – he’s still the man
    Long distance baby – so far from home
    Don’t you think maybe you could put him on

    Well tell him I was calling just to wish him well
    Let me leave my number – heartbreak hotel
    Oh love me tender – baby don’t be cruel
    Return to sender – treat me like a fool

    Calling Elvis – is anybody home
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone
    Did he leave the building
    Can he come to the phone
    Calling Elvis – I’m here all alone
  • 13. Heavy Fuel
    Last time I was sober, man I felt bad
    Worst hangover that I ever had
    It took six hamburgers and scotch all night
    Nicotine for breakfast just to put me right

    ‘Cos if you wanna run cool
    If you wanna run cool
    If you wanna run cool, you got to run
    On heavy, heavy fuel

    My life makes perfect sense
    Lust and food and violence
    Sex and money are my major kicks
    Get me in a fight I like dirty tricks

    ‘Cos if you wanna run cool
    Yes if you wanna run cool, you got to run
    On heavy, heavy fuel

    My chick loves a man who’s strong
    The things she’ll do to turn me on
    I love the babes, don’t get me wrong
    Hey, that’s why I wrote this song

    I don’t care if my liver is hanging by a thread
    Don’t care if my doctor says I ought to be dead
    When my ugly big car won’t climb this hill
    I’ll write a suicide note on a hundred dollar bill

    ‘Cos if you wanna run cool
    If you wanna run cool
    Yes if you wanna run cool, you got to run
    On heavy, heavy fuel
  • 14. On Every Street
    There’s gotta be a record of you someplace
    You gotta be on somebody’s books
    The lowdown – a picture of your face
    Your injured looks

    The sacred and profane
    The pleasure and the pain
    Somewhere your fingerprints remain concrete
    And it’s your face I’m looking for on every street

    A ladykiller – regulation tattoo
    Silver spurs on his heels
    Says – what can I tell you, as I’m standing next to you
    She threw herself under my wheels

    Oh it’s a dangerous road
    And a hazardous load
    And the fireworks over liberty explode in the heat
    And it’s your face I’m looking for on every street

    A three-chord symphony crashes into space
    The moon is hanging upside down
    I don’t know why it is I’m still on the case
    It’s a ravenous town

    And you still refuse to be traced
    Seems to me such a waste
    And every victory has a taste that’s bittersweet
    And it’s your face I’m looking for on every street
  • 15. Your Latest Trick (live)
    All the late night bargains have been struck
    Between the satin beaus and their belles
    And prehistoric garbage trucks
    Have the city to themselves
    Echoes roars dinosaurs
    They’re all doing the monster mash
    And most of the taxis and the whores
    Are only taking calls for cash

    I don’t know how it happened
    It all took place so quick
    But all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick

    My door was standing open
    Security was laid back and lax
    But it was only my heart got broken
    You must have had a pass key made out of wax
    You played robbery with insolence
    And I played the blues in twelve bars down Lover’s Lane
    And you never did have the intelligence to use
    The twelve keys hanging off my chain

    I don’t know how it happened
    It all took place so quick
    But all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick

    Now it’s past last call for alcohol
    Past recall has been here and gone
    The landlord finally paid us all
    The satin jazzmen have put away their horns
    And we’re standing outside of this wonderland
    Looking so bereaved and so bereft
    Like a Bowery bum when he finally understands
    The bottle’s empty and there’s nothing left

    I don’t know how it happened
    It was faster than the eye could flick
    But now all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick
  • 16. Local Hero / Wild Theme (live)
    Instrumental