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Making Movies

An album by Dire Straits

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Riding on the Ghost Train...

  • Nov 29, 2000
  • by
If an album were to be judged its first fifteen seconds, Making Movies would be a dud. The Carousel Waltz fades in, on curlywurly organ, and segues into some worryingly Steinman-esque introductory piano figures, leading the unsuspecting listener to expect an hour of that sort of absurd extravagaza you find on Bat out of Hell. But should you persevere to that sixteenth second you discover that no, it is simply Mr Knopfler indulging in a little pre-gig pantomime; for suddenly, out of nowhere, a freight-train sized, full-band, power-chord poleaxes these aforementioned fancy chords and the band cracks into the urgent, driving groove of Tunnel of Love.

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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review by . February 27, 1999
posted in Music Matters
Dire Straits definitely peaked with this wonderful release. All the songs are great but Tunnel Of Love is just stupendous. A perfect song to romance your special lady. Roy Bittan(Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) plays some excellent piano and Mark Knophler is on top of his game on guitar. You can not go wrong with this CD.
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Olly Buxton ()
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OnMaking Movies, the cinematic quality of these sometimes silly but generally engaging story songs is consistently overwhelmed by its own score, a soundtrack of thundering drums, cascading piano, perpetual-motion grooves, and the clipped lead guitar lines of frontman Mark Knopfler. On "Skateaway," that sound is so engaging and catchy that it makes up for the song's slight lyric (about a girl who roller-skates in traffic), but when Knopfler provides tales that are up to the fanfare, this album is a thing of real beauty. "Romeo and Juliet" is especially strong, since it combines all the pomp with a sweet declaration of love that's downright humble.--David Cantwell
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Label: Warner Bros, Wea
Artist: Dire Straits
Release Date: October 25, 1990

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