And Then There Were Three...
No, that's not a mistake. Do not think we were confused with the masterpiece album "..And Then There Were Three..." of "Genesis", it's just that in the case of "Making Movies", the third album by "Dire Straits", the band also became a trio.
In December 1979, after completing the "Communiqué Tour" to promote the band's second album "Communiqué", Mark Knopfler began writing the material for the band's next album. These were materials that dealt with Knopfler's personal life and were wrapped in complex arrangements and melodies that went a long way from the root rock that the band presented on their debut album, combining genres such as jazz, folk, and country. This masterful album will become a milestone in the band's excellent career, but at the same time, it will also mark the first serious crisis, which triggered the stopwatch which calculated the band's end.
In August 1980, while recording the album, Mark Knopfler's brother David Knopfler would leave the band, following heated arguments with Mark. The crisis between the brothers was so great that all of David Knopfler's guitar roles, which were almost complete, would be re-recorded by Mark Knopfler. This is not a trivial matter, since beyond the fact that they are "brothers in blood", it was David who co-founded "Café Racers" with Mark, in the mid - 1970s, the first band which would later become "Dire Straits". Although this album deepened the band's worldwide success on their way to the top, it would also in some sense mark the "beginning of the end" of "Dire Straits", which had already been dominated by Mark Knopfler, with his phenomenal talent.
Before recording the album, Mark Knopfler decided to hire the services of producer Jimmy Iovine, who worked on Bruce Springsteen's classics "Born to Run" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town". Lavine brought keyboardist Roy Bittan who was part of Springsteen's backing band - the "E-Street Band". This contributed a lot to the sound and theatrical atmosphere of the album, which in some places does remind us of "The Boss" himself.
The album opens up with "Tunnel of Love", which 7 years later will become the theme song and album of Bruce Springsteen, and here you have the required closer of Knopfler's with "The Boss". It's one of the band's three songs that did not give full writing credit to Mark Knopfler. The other two are: "Money for Nothing" and "What's The Matter Baby?". But do not think for a moment that someone helped Knopfler write this masterpiece. He simply gave the credit for the keyboards intro to Rodgers and Hammerstein for the inspiration from the "Carousel Waltz" they wrote. This intro puts us in the mood of the story at the heart of the song. The "Spanish City" Fair and Amusement Park in "Whitley Bay". As a teenager, Knopfler lived in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, about ten miles away. This fair probably made Knopfler choose a musical career, as he has repeatedly noted that this is the first place he has heard rock 'n' roll play at high volume. If you will, this wonderful piece is kind of a nod to where it all started for Knopfler.
Immediately after the short keyboard's intro, Knopfler's guitar simply takes over the song and envelops it from all directions with mesmerizing magic. From the precise rhythm of the chords, through the short guitar sentences, and to the amazing solo that starts to warm up engines, modest and small, starting at about 6:00 and only getting stronger and bigger, accompanying us until the end of the song. Despite Knopfler's unquestionable dominance, keyboardist Roy Bittan's incredible contribution to the song cannot be ignored, whether it's in the organ intro that determines the atmosphere of the song, the small piano touches during the verses, or the short solo at the end. Drummer Pick Withers also deserves a good word for the smart and wonderful drumming in this dynamic song. He knew exactly when to fill in the gaps between Knopfler's guitar sentences, when to take a step back leaning on cymbals and beatings on the drum rim, and when to storm forward, as in the bridge section starting at 3:35.
The second track "Romeo and Juliet" is perhaps the most beautiful song on the album and one of the great songs of the band and Knopfler in general. An amazing combination of magnificent melody, perfect playing, and witty and clever lyrics. One of the most beautiful love songs ever written. This is the first part of the trilogy, written by Knopfler following the breakup with his girlfriend Holly Vincent, who dumped him during a phone call in the middle of the band's tour in America. This part tells how the woman leaves the man, but still, he has the hope to return to her, even though she is no longer interested in him. The second part of the trilogy is the song "Love Over Gold", the theme song from the band's next album, in which the man loses hope of returning to the girl and he realizes that she used him to advance herself and her career. The third part is the last song on the album "Love Over Gold" - "It Never Rains", which includes blunt and direct lyrics by Knopfler, who closes a circle with his girlfriend, after discovering how fate has avenged her since she left him. The song is led by the sound of National's "Style O" guitar, the same guitar that appears on the cover of the band's "Brothers in Arms" album, but it also enjoys Roy Bittan's piano melody that adds so much to it. It follows Shakespeare's story of young lovers, in a certain twist, to the sounds of sweeping music that softens and intensifies as the story progresses. In this song, Knopfler proves that not only is he a great composer and performer, but he is a poet that writes with supreme grace! He manages to express so much in sharp and short sentences that just pierce the heart.
One of the good moments on the album comes at the end of the first side with "Skateaway". An amazing song that focuses on a young Hollywood star who goes against conventions and tries to become a "free spirit". She skates on the bustling city streets, listening to the radio in her headphones. There is a kind of rebellion in her skating as she slides against the direction of the bustling traffic, like a contrast between her perception of life and reality. The song, whose lyrics include the name of the album "Making Movies", expands and fades, ascends and descends, like a roller coaster, leaning on the shoulders of bassist John Illsley and drummer Pick Withers leaving enough improvisation space for Knopfler's guitar and voice that conveys the story to the listener.
The other side of the album features four shorter and less complex songs. "Expresso Love" is a rock 'n' roll song with a strong guitar riff that is actually a love song about the sad life of a glamorous (maybe prostitute) woman who is getting ready to go out onto town. The song corresponds with the song "Wild West End" from the band's debut album, with the phrase "Hey mister, you wanna take a walk in the wild west end sometime?". It is followed by the quiet "Hand in Hand". A delicate ballad that opens to the piano sounds of Roy Bittan accompanied by Knopfler's guitar. A song that is a kind of looking back and bringing up memories from a relationship between him and her, and how this has changed from a simple state of going "hand in hand" to something more complex. We return to rock 'n' roll in the third track "Solid Rock" with the kind of bouncy rhythm that excites the audience in live performances. Interestingly, the video clip released for the song includes David Knopfler, as it was filmed before he left the band.
The album ends in cabaret style with "Les Boys", perhaps the most "different song" in the "Dire Straits" catalog.
"Making Movies" was a worldwide success and even gained platinum status in the US and double platinum in the UK. After which, the band will thicken its ranks and turn from a band of three musicians into a band of five members. It will continue to build its success with "Love Over Gold" from 1982 and especially with "Brothers in Arms" from 1985, which became one of the best-selling albums in the world, ever.