Skeptics, of which there are many, hold that the notions "urgent, driving groove" and "Dire Straits" are mutually exclusive. But how wrong they are, and it only takes a little volume on the hi-fi for this to become obvious. Where it wants to, Making Movies rocks very, very hard: Even Knopfler's rhythm guitar is positively bruising and the lead guitar fills snarl and jag over pacey, tightly miked accompaniment from the rhythm section.
But what converts a terrific rock 'n' roll record into an outstanding one is, of all things, the vocals. Yes, vocals. It is true that Mark Knopfler can't sing for toffee, but nor can JJ Cale, Neil Young or Bob Dylan, and it is the same sort of spirit as these three that he conjures, albeit set to a more agressive tempo. This is the hoarse, choked record of a wounded and bruised young man, and it repays constant replaying in a way not many rock'n'roll records can. Should your woman go west, drive round the town with this on in your car and everything will come into perspective. Six months later, you'll still not be tired of it.
It isn't relentless rock 'n' roll; perhaps the greatest contemporary piece of National guitar playing features on Romeo & Juliet (and check out the hi fi moment when the piano, acoustics, bass come in after the intro - nnnnnnice!), and it isn't half a bad song either.
A couple of minor flaws: firstly the songs are a trifle overlong; this malady of Knopfler's was destined to get worse before it got better, but here it is not enough to deprive this terrific record of the fifth star it deserves; and secondly Les Boys, while an amusing pastiche, is at odds with the rest of the record. But it's an upbeat way to end the record, so why not?
Dire Straits never sounded this good again.
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