Whenever people are listed who influenced Mark Knopfler to come up with that Dire Straits sound, you more or less will find the same names: J.J. Cale, Bob Dylan, Hank Marvin, Ry Cooder, Eric Clapton, sometimes Django Reinhardt or Richard Thompson, etc. I remember that I was surprised to hear another name, a band that I had never heard of before. This was in the “Unauthorized Mark Knopfler Biography” by Myles Palmer.
Palmer wrote a book about Mark Knopfler based on interviews with all kind of people who used to know Knopfler before Dire Straits or around the time they started, even people like his school teachers or work mates. I think it was Dave Pask, the lead singer of the Cafe Racers, the band Mark Knopfler played in just before Dire Straits, who mentioned how enthusiastic Mark was about the Amazing Rhythm Aces, an American band that sounded like a mix between Lynnard Skynnard (‘Sweet Home Alabama’) and country roots.
Dave Pask was quoted: ‘Basically, the sound comes from the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ lead guitarist Barry “Byrd” Burton,, and J.J. Cale, who he was listening to a lot of the time. […] There is a song he was influenced by called “The End is not in sight”. Listen to the guitar playing on that.’
This song is from the band’s second album called “Too stuffed to jump”, and in fact it is an absolutely great song. You can hear it here on youtube:
The guitar solo reminds me of things like Down to the Waterline. The melody itself has not much in common, but both the chord changes (A and E compared to G and Bm; note that Bm is the minor chord to D, and G and D would be the same one note lower), and the way the solo takes over after the verse create a similar feel. The first song of that album – “Typical American Boy” – is also stunning.
If you like the song and want it in better than youtube quality, you will find the album on a remastered CD at Amazon. The better buy seems to be the ‘two albums on one CD’ version at the same price which you can directly order at Amazon from here (simply click on the link for your country to get it from your local Amazon):
If you are inetersted in the Myles Palmer book (it is reviewed a bit controversial, nevertheless it contains a lot of exclusive information), you can still get it at Amazon as well. Unfortunately it seems to be very rare and is partly rather expensive there: