Dire Straits Make Their Own ‘Movies’

October 25, 2017

The compact disc was still two years away when Dire Straits released their third album, in 1980 – and the gargantuan Brothers In Arms probably not even a twinkle in Mark Knopfler’s eye – but with Making Movies, the band entered the new decade well on the way to the radio-friendly roots-rock sound that would go on to dominate the decade. The album was released on 17 October that year and made its UK chart debut on the 25th.

Tunnel Of Love Picture SleeveWith Knopfler sibling David having left the band during the summer 1980 recording sessions, Mark became the group’s sole guitarist and songwriting force, with ambitions befitting those of a band whose previous two albums had both hit the UK No.5 spot. His songs were increasingly stretching beyond the six- and eight-minute marks, allowing the group to flex their muscles on the likes of ‘Tunnel Of Love’, which incorporates the theme from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s much loved 1945 musical, Carousel, before later diverting into a jazzy breakdown.

As the album’s title suggested, Knopfler’s songs were taking the shape of mini-movies in and of themselves, thanks to the narrative focus of his lyrics. When Romeo sidles up to Juliet in the song named after the star-crossed lovers, propositioning her in Knopfler’s gravelly tones (“You and me, babe – how ’bout it?”), the moment is simultaneously intimate and cinematic: the world’s greatest love story given street smarts, over a decade before Baz Luhrmann brought his Romeo + Juliet adaptation to the silver screen.

Romeo And Juliet Single A-sideCredit, too, goes to producer Jimmy Iovine, who, having manned the boards for Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town albums, was adept at giving small-town concerns a universal appeal. Even the comparatively low-key album cut, ‘Expresso Love’ – built on choppy guitars and Knopfler’s hoarse vocals – edges towards the epic by virtue of its layered guitars and evocative keyboards provided by Roy Bittan, on loan from Springsteen’s E Street Band.

Unsurprisingly, ‘Romeo And Juliet’ hit No.8 in the UK, matching Dire Straits’ previous best, the indefatigable ‘Sultans Of Swing’, while Making Movies hit No.4 and amassed 252 weeks, so far, in the UK charts, paving the way for a three-album chart-topping run which began with 1982’s Love Over Gold. The time might have been wrong for Romeo and Juliet, but for Knopfler and co it was undoubtedly perfect.

Purchase Making Movies here.

Follow uDiscover's Dire Straits Best Of playlist.

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  1. Sriram Kalaga

    One of my favorite albums. The rousing guitar at the end of Tunnel of Love is simply the greatest guitar solo ever played. Period.

    1. Eddie Davis

      Mark Knopfler is the most under appreciated guitarist on the planet.Plus,he should be in the R*R HOF twice!!

  2. Eddie Davis

    My favorite Dire Straits work is Brothers In Arms.One of the greatest albums of the 80’s,if not THE greatest!

  3. Kipps

    Brothers in arms one of the best albums on the planet got the vinyl tooo!!! The C D also has a great sound to it as well compared to most other cd’s

  4. Karen

    I’ve spent years willing them to get back together for a tour. However, recently I’ve come to the idea that it’s best left. Somehow, I don’t think it could possible be better.

  5. Andrew

    Mark & the band were on fire by this stage, brilliant players & superb production team both in studio & touring. Life changing music for this fan.

  6. Arthur Blakemore

    Mark has this uncanny ability to make the very best of very simple themes and words and turn them into something almost magical.
    Always been my favourite British guitarist, not to take anything away from John Mc Gloug. and Jeff Beck of course but I find Marks playing more accessible to work out on the guitar now that I understand his style of playing. Still not easy by any stretch of the imagination. So, so articulate, well polished and humble.. Where is his knighthood?

  7. Steven Rogers

    It’s easy to see Dire Straits as being all about Mark Knopfler, but when I listen to the songs now it’s the Pick Withers influence that stands out. His work is absolutely outstanding, driving every song with complete authority without ever taking over or overwhelming the music.

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