While this was as good a compilation of Dire Straits as you could find for a time, the recent "Private Investigations: The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler" ups the ante for two reasons. First and foremost, on that 2-disc collection, the Dire Straits songs are included in their full length versions (edited versions are here for "Money For Nothing" in particular), and the live cuts - especially "Love Over Gold" - are replaced with studio versions. Since Dire Straits were always a product of studio perfections and the belief that great things last longer than 4 minutes, losing almost half of "Money For Nothing" just isn't acceptable.
Secondly, the "Private Investigations" set has its second disc devoted to the best of Mark Knopfler's solo career. Since that was madly uneven, it beats his spotty solo albums. Here, "Local Hero" is the only solo track, and again in a live version.
While I have long been a fan of Dire Straits ("Love Over Gold" and "Brothers In Arms" were the two CD's I often used to show off - gawd I'm Getting Old - the brand new CD player and its spanking new technology), "Sultans Of Swing - The Very Best Of" under represents the band. On the other hand, "Private Investigations" leaves off "Heavy Fuel" and the goofy "Twisting By The Pool." That was the first time Knopfler showed off his sense of humor prior to (the also missing) "Industrial Disease." ("Private Investiagtions" also completely ignores the "Communique" album).
I have a few personal favorites here. The shock of hearing "Sultans Of Swing" during the period of all things Clash or Sex Pistols has never worn off. As a calling card of Mark Knofler as new guitar hero, it remains very hard to beat. The Noir detective tale of "Private Investigations" has long affected me, as has the call for understanding of "Brothers In Arms." My personal favorite missing songs are "Skateaway" and "The Bug." But since they appear on neither collection, maybe Knopfler isn't too keen on them, either.
So while you may finds yourself drawn to the more expansive collection, if you're a casual listener, "Sultans Of Swing" will do ok. Just be aware that the two songs you probably most want here are trimmed from their LP versions. If you are really interested in them, starting with the debut album or the still incredible "Brothers In Arms" is an even better bet than this particular Dire Straits best of.