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Rock - Released November 15, 2005 | Warner Records

This 22-cut double-disc set finally gets at it. Issuing a single disc of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler would be a silly thing at best and a hopelessly frustrating one at worst. When the band burst on the scene with "Sultans of Swing," there was a lot happening in rock music, but most of it was under the radar and remains forgotten except in the historic annals of music fanatics. Knopfler and his band were full of rock & roll romance and proved it through their first four recordings time and again. They couldn't help but become superstars and mainstays of MTV. But there is another story told on this best-of, which begins with "Telegraph Road." The story-songs Knopfler wrote were always the best anyway, and this set is full of them, from "Sultans" to "Romeo & Juliet," "Skateaway," "So Far Away," "Walk of Life," and (of course) "Brothers in Arms," which made for the most dramatic marriage of the little screen and rock music when it was featured in the closing sequence of an episode of Miami Vice. But there are many other stops along the way, like "Private Investigations," "Sailing to Philadelphia," "Going Home" (from Local Hero), and "The Long Road" (from Cal). But "On Every Street," "Calling Elvis," and "What It Is" are here, too, making for a wonderfully rounded if argumentative best-of collection that goes the distance and explains sonically what all the fuss was about in the first place. There's the guitar sound that's as much Tony Joe White as it is J.J. Cale and Billy Gibbons, and the elegance of James Burton and Chet Atkins. There is soul, pathos, drama, and a bittersweet memory that Van Morrison first evoked on Astral Weeks and Saint Dominic's Preview. There is a new cut here as well, a duet with Emmylou Harris called "All the Roadrunning," taken from an upcoming collaborative album, and it's nice -- beautiful, in fact -- and keeps the line of continuity and excellence in perspective. This is not only a fine collection for fans because of its wonderful sequencing, but the best introduction to the man and the band that one could ask for. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 15, 2000 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released September 15, 2000 | Warner Records

Mark Knopfler's second solo album might as well be called Dire Straits' eighth studio album, though Knopfler abandoned the group name back in 1996, dispensing with hefty sales in the process. There was never much doubt that the fame and lifestyle coincident with platinum sales made him uncomfortable, and discontinuing the Dire Straits billing was a means of walking away from all that. It also allowed him to indulge his love for various musical genres more, and that process continues on Sailing to Philadelphia. True, Knopfler's basic approach remains the same -- as a guitarist, he is still enamored of the minor-key finger-picking style of J.J. Cale, and as a singer/songwriter, he remains enthralled with Bob Dylan. But in one song after another on this album, you get the feeling that he started out playing some familiar song in a specific genre and eventually extrapolated upon it enough to call it an original. Knopfler has grafted his own lyrical concerns to these songs, often playing up the lives of humble people (especially musicians), and putting down powerful people (especially rock stars). There are also story-songs on wide-ranging subjects, but the theme of life on the road and the dichotomy between the rich and famous (what Knopfler is) and the poor and powerless (those he identifies with) predominate. Working with a two-guitars, two-keyboards, bass and drums band (like Dire Straits), Knopfler brings in a variety of sympathetic guests, notably James Taylor, Van Morrison, and Squeeze leaders Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. These guest stars provide pleasant contrast to Knopfler's modest vocal talents, but they never steal the spotlight from the leader. (Well, okay, Morrison does.) His ability to hold his own is some indication that, however self-effacing he may be, he remains a star. [In 2005 Sailing to Philadelphia was reissued with a bonus DVD that featured "behind the scenes" footage" as well as interviews with Knopfler and his band.] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 5, 1993 | Warner Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 13, 1989 | Warner Records

Unlike Mark Knopfler's first three soundtracks, his music for Last Exit to Brooklyn did not sound like outtakes from Dire Straits sessions, but instead consisted of fully orchestrated scoring, even if the credit "music performed by Guy Fletcher" suggested that most of the string-like sound was being made by a synthesizer. Nevertheless, this was Knopfler's most ambitious and accomplished soundtrack. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

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