If Dire Straits thought the world needed a little break from them after the globe-straddling success of Brothers In Arms, then 29 October 1988 proved that the opposite was true. The Vertigo compilation Money For Nothing — named, of course, after one of the trademark hits from that last studio set — entered the UK chart at No. 1.
The first retrospective devoted to the British rock heroes, it featured many of the signature songs from their five studio LPs, but also a number of rarities to keep avid collectors happy. Hits included ‘Sultans Of Swing,’ ‘Tunnel Of Love,’ ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and ‘Private Investigations,’ alongside such previously unreleased attractions as the live track ‘Portobello Belle,’ an outtake from the Alchemy live album; a remix of that record’s ‘Telegraph Road’; a different mix of the Communiqué track ‘Where Do You Think You’re Going’; and an edit of ‘Brothers In Arms.’
Fans absolutely lapped it all up. The album topped various charts around Europe, with reported sales throughout the continent of more than six million. Although Money For Nothing only reached No. 62 in the US, it still went platinum there.
Back in the UK, the compilation spent three weeks at No. 1 and a weighty 13 in the top ten, in an initial chart run of 47 weeks. The album continued to show up on the bestsellers intermittently through the first half of the 1990s and went quadruple platinum. People may have wanted their MTV, but they needed their Dire Straits.
Two later retrospectives, 1998’s Sultans of Swing and 2005’s Private Investigations, each won further multi-platinum honours to prove that continues to be the case. Private Investigations figured in the lower reaches of the Official Charts Company’s weekly top 100 UK listings into 2019, by which time its aggregate run there came to more than 100 weeks.
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