Money For Nothing
The main problem for Dire Straits was timing; debuting in England in the late 1970s and commercially overshadowing favoured artists such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols isn’t the best way to make critical friends. Dire Straits started as a humble pub-rock band, who grew to stadium-filling concerts and conceptual albums. They’re not a key group whose innovative albums inspire you to track down their entire discography – they’re simply an enjoyable band, whose massive sales perhaps exceeded their worth.
It’s almost erroneous to refer to Dire Straits as a band since Mark Knopfler was clearly the group’s lynch-pin, famously firing his brother David for not practicing enough. Knopfler is an earnest singer and capable guitarist (he extracts his distinctive tones by not using a pick).
1988’s compilation Money For Nothing has been superseded by 1998’s Sultans of Swing but the two compilations appear vaguely equivalent; Money For Nothing has a cooler cover, but less (the lovely ‘So Far Away’ is inexplicably omitted) and different (Money For Nothing features nice live versions of ‘Telegraph Road’ and ‘Portobello Road’) songs. The best songs feature guests; Sting earned half the royalties from the sardonic ‘Money For Nothing’ simply for singing ‘I want my MTV’ to the chorus of The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’, while Springsteen pianist Roy Bittan adds lovely arpeggios over ‘Tunnel of Love’.
The two most ubiquitous songs both earn their keep; ‘Walk of Life’ has an irresistible organ riff, while ‘Sultans of Swing’ encapsulates the quintessential Knopfler guitar sound. On the counter-side ‘Where Do You Think You’re Going’ is predictable blues, and the fun ‘Twisting By The Pool’ has tossed-off non-album single written all over it.
I don’t find Dire Straits exciting enough to want them to explore them further, but I’m happy to have this pleasant collection of 12 Dire Straits song in my collection.