Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). They were active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1991 to 1995.
Their first single, “Sultans of Swing”, from their 1978 self-titled debut album, reached the top ten in the UK and US charts. It was followed by hit singles including “Romeo and Juliet” (1981), “Private Investigations” (1982), “Twisting by the Pool” (1983), “Money for Nothing” (1985), and “Walk of Life” (1985). Their most commercially successful album, Brothers in Arms (1985), has sold more than 30 million copies; it was the first album to sell a million copies on compact disc and is the eighth-bestselling album in UK history. According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, the fifth most of all time.
Dire Straits’ sound draws from various influences, including country, folk, the blues rock of J. J. Cale, and jazz. Their stripped-down sound contrasted with punk rock and demonstrated a roots rock influence that emerged from pub rock. There were several changes in personnel, with Mark Knopfler and Illsley being the only members who lasted from the beginning of the band’s existence to the end. After their first breakup in 1988, Knopfler told Rolling Stone: “A lot of press reports were saying we were the biggest band in the world. There’s not an accent then on the music, there’s an accent on popularity. I needed a rest.” They disbanded for good in 1995, after which Knopfler launched a solo career full-time. He has since declined reunion offers.
Dire Straits were called “the biggest British rock band of the 80s” by Classic Rock magazine; their 1985–1986 world tour, which included a performance at Live Aid in July 1985, set a record in Australasia. Their final world tour from 1991 to 1992 sold 7.1 million tickets. Dire Straits won four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards (Best British Group twice), two MTV Video Music Awards, and various other awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Dire Straits have sold over 120 million units worldwide, including 51.4 million certified units, making them one of the best-selling music artists.
Making Movies is the third studio album by British rock band Dire Straits released on 17 October 1980 by Vertigo Records internationally, Warner Bros. Records in the United States and Mercury Records in Canada. The album includes the single “Romeo and Juliet”, which reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart, as well as one of Dire Straits’ best known cuts, “Tunnel of Love”, which was also featured in the 1982 Richard Gere film An Officer and a Gentleman.
Making Movies reached number one on the album charts in Italy and Norway, number 19 in the United States and number 4 in the United Kingdom. Making Movies was later certified platinum in the United States and double-platinum in the United Kingdom. It is regarded as one of Dire Straits’ best albums.
After Dire Straits’ Communiqué Tour ended on 21 December 1979 in London, Mark Knopfler spent the first half of 1980 writing the songs for the band’s next album. He contacted Jimmy Iovine after hearing Iovine’s production on the song “Because the Night” by Patti Smith—a song co-written by Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Iovine had also worked on Springsteen’s Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town albums, and he was instrumental in recruiting E-Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan for the Making Movies sessions.
Making Movies was recorded at the Power Station in New York from 20 June to 25 August 1980. Jimmy Iovine and Mark Knopfler produced the album.
David Knopfler left Dire Straits in August 1980 during the recording of the album, following heated arguments with his brother. His guitar tracks were almost complete for the album, but were re-recorded by Mark. David appears on video playing “Solid Rock” and “Les Boys” live in concert, but these performances preceded the recording. The album sessions continued with Sid McGinnis on rhythm guitar, although he was uncredited on the album. Dire Straits expanded into a quintet when keyboard player Alan Clark and Californian guitarist Hal Lindes were recruited as full-time group members shortly after the album’s release in October 1980.
Four songs were recorded during the sessions but not released on the album: “Making Movies”, “Suicide Towers”, “Twisting by the Pool” and “Sucker for Punishment”. “Twisting by the Pool” was released on the ExtendedancEPlay EP on 10 January 1983 and reached the UK Top 20 when released as a single. The title of the album is taken from a line in the song “Skateaway” and from the outtake “Making Movies”.
Making Movies was released on 17 October 1980 on LP and cassette formats. In 1981, an identically named short film was released on VHS and Beta, as well as screened in some theatrical venues, consisting of three music videos directed by fashion/commercial photographer Lester Bookbinder, for “Romeo and Juliet”, “Tunnel of Love” and “Skateaway”. The original CD version was released in 1984.
The album was remastered and reissued on CD with the rest of the Dire Straits catalogue in 1996 internationally, and on 19 September 2000 in the United States.
The album includes some of Dire Straits’ best known songs. The album’s main single was “Romeo and Juliet” which reached number 8 in the UK singles chart in early 1981. The second single release was “Skateaway”, and the third and final single from the album was the lengthy opening track, “Tunnel of Love”, with its intro “The Carousel Waltz” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, which only reached the number 54 position in the UK, however it remains one of Knopfler’s most popular compositions.
With new group members Alan Clark and Hal Lindes on board, Dire Straits embarked on tours of Europe, North America, and Oceania from October 1980 until July 1981 to promote the album.
Three of the seven tracks from Making Movies continued to be played throughout the Love over Gold, Brothers in Arms and On Every Street tours: “Romeo and Juliet”, “Tunnel of Love” and “Solid Rock”, while “Expresso Love” was played in all concert tours until 1986.
In his review for Rolling Stone, David Fricke gave the album four out of five stars, writing:
Making Movies is the record on which Mark Knopfler comes out from behind his influences and Dire Straits come out from behind Mark Knopfler. The combination of the star’s lyrical script, his intense vocal performances and the band’s cutting-edge rock & roll soundtrack is breathtaking—everything the first two albums should have been but weren’t. If Making Movies really were a film, it might win a flock of Academy Awards.
Rolling Stone ranked Making Movies number 52 in their survey of the 100 Best Albums of the Eighties (wikipedia)
Without second guitarist David Knopfler, Dire Straits began to move away from its roots rock origins into a jazzier variation of country-rock and singer/songwriter folk-rock. Naturally, this means that Mark Knopfler’s ambitions as a songwriter are growing, as the storytelling pretensions of Making Movies indicate. Fortunately, his skills are increasing, as the lovely “Romeo and Juliet,” “Tunnel of Love,” and “Skateaway” indicate. And Making Movies is helped by a new wave-tinged pop production, which actually helps Knopfler’s jazzy inclinations take hold. The record runs out of steam toward the end, closing with the borderline offensive “Les Boys,” but the remainder of Making Movies ranks among the band’s finest work. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
John Illsley (bass, backround vocals)
Mark Knopfler (guitar, vocals
Pick Withers –(drums, background vocals)
Roy Bittan (keyboards)
Sid McGinnis (guitar)
01. Intro: Extract from “The Carousel Waltz” (Rodgers/Hammerstein II) / Tunnel Of Love 8.11 02. Romeo And Juliet 6.02
03. Skateaway 6.40
04. Expresso Love 5.12
05. Hand In Hand 4.49
06. Solid Rock 3.27
07. Les Boys 4.09
All songs were written by Mark Knopfler, except where indicated
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