The fifth studio album for Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms has a decorated history. It is the seventh best-selling album in UK charts history and won two Grammy Awards in 1985: Best Rock Performance by a Group with Vocal for ‘Money for Nothing’ and Best Engineered Recording, Non Classical for the full album. Sting also appears on the record as a guest artist.
Brothers In Arms – An Appreciation
Looked at now with 20/20 vision of hindsight, the image on the sleeve of Brothers In Arms seems uncannily prophetic: that National steel guitar heading up into the clouds – a shiny 6 stringed rocket devoid of any obvious means of propulsion – describes, better than any words can, what happened to Dire Straits after the release of their 5th studio album. Up till the summer of 1985 success had, for them, come as a by-product of the music making process. They had never courted celebrity, chased fads or played safe. Dire Straits had been loved and respected as one of the few bands to have maintained strong and credible links with the multifarious roots of rock and roll at time – remember all the desperate pop posing of the early 80’s? – when roots were emphatically not a fashionable place to be.
At first hearing, Brothers In Arms didn’t sound like an album which was going to storm the barricades of global popular taste, much less one which would establish itself as the UK’s biggest selling album of all time. And there lay the surprising beauty of it. Where others shouted this album talked. Having little in the way of front, it offered instead a world of interiors. It opened not with a bang but with a gently ticking hi-hat and it faded away, 9 tracks later, on a defiantly untriumphant wash of moody keyboards and achy, echoey guitar. Many of the songs in between were quiet, reflective, sombre even: the soldierly themes contained in the title track, or “The Man’s Too Strong” or again in “Ride Across The River” were tinged with regret and remorse. The love songs were apt to begin and end in disappointment, with Mark Knopfler grumbling down the phone in a lonely hotel room or disconsolately reviewing a late night encounter with someone he hardly met. Like the sleeve again, the album was predominantly blue in tone.
Life being what it is, Brothers In Arms soon became celebrated for its lighter moments, notably the big hits “Money For Nothing” and “Walk Of Life”. Both of these tracks have intriguing behind-the-scenes tales to tell. Knopfler’s ode to blue collar dreams, “Money for Nothing”, eventually ended up with Sting singing the catchy “I want my MTV” refrain. The then lead singer of The Police happened to be on holiday nearby and received an invitation to contribute, which he did to great effect. “Walk Of Life” nearly didn’t make it as an album track at all but co-producer Neil Dorfsman was out-voted by the band, thereby ensuring that an album etched with several varieties of sadness also contained one of the most uplifting tunes Knopfler has ever written. Now wonder the world found, and continues to find this such an irresistible package.
– Robert Sandell (from the liner notes for the 20th anniversary edition of Brothers In Arms)
‘Babe There is something lonesome about you, something so wholesome about you, get closer to me.’
Those lyrics seem to define the very essence of whom Hozier is and what your heart can not deny he was simply born to do.
Feeling a little overwhelmed and star struck yesterday entering the stage door of The Orpheum and walking down the hall to his interview. First thing that caught our eye was the colourful signs that pointed out the proper dressing room destinations for all involved. Uncertain of what lay ahead and apprehensive as to whether we could connect with this artist in the short time slot allotted we were armed and ready to chisel away at the task at hand.
We quickly set up while he was finishing an interview with CBC and as if all at once he was standing in the doorway extending a hand and a smile as a refreshing gift that broke down every barrier we may have anticipated.
Genuine in his interactions and respectful of all those that work with him he is a thoughtful young man that makes you want to see him succeed to great heights yet never lose what makes him who he is.
So sweet upon exit to see some fans lined up to meet him and we knew their tender young hearts would be won over by his presence.
Day turned to night as the streets of Granville came to life while scalpers hustled tickets to this sold out show and the pre show line up was filled with good energy and expectancy. We got to visit with a Jack Russell rocking a custom made Metallica coat and interacting with his owner heavy metal style and endearing us to the life that breathes good vibrations making our city so unique. One girl went by brushing her hand along the side of his bus singing ‘Take Me To Church’ while another said it is her favourite Hozier song and in truth it made you feel that they were in for something bigger than they could imagine, because he is larger than any hit song on any playlist. He is full of colour so rich and vibrant that is hard to hold it all in one picture.
Thinking ahead and not getting lost in the moment he mentioned earlier in the day ‘the true test is not what is happening now but will people want to listen to a second album all the way through.’ We say ‘have no fear, stay true to who you are, and your gift will only keep growing stronger.’
Hozier delivered a show that grabbed you from the first note of Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene’ and just held you there until he bid farewell 80 minutes later. His ensemble was comfortable in his washed out jean jacket and his hunter green flannel with black boots that are on an incredible journey around the world. But it isn’t these things that matter it is the smile that will never grow old and the life in his eyes full of stories yet to be told. He stands tall at the pulpit while his music and undemanding presence command you to sit up and partake with the choir in all the splendour and love of his congregation.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne makes it all appear effortless delivering his own kind of cool with a trustworthy show free of dirty words and washing you clean with his rhythm and lyrics that will not fail you. His ticket is worth it’s weight in gold and we look forward to all the good memories in music and want to say thank you Hozier for making us believers in singing from the heart.