Dire Straits: Making Movies (1980)

Here's another band I really hated back in the day, but these days find make for decent enough weekend background music.  (Which I say with no disrespect intended; when you're a middle-aged grown-up, having a variety of decent enough weekend background music is actually kinda crucial.)

Back in the 70s and 80s, though -- ugh, I just found them hopelessly dull and overly mannered.  It didn't help that their music was competing for my attention with the likes of the Clash and the Talking Heads and Squeeze and the Jam, and that just wasn't a fair fight.  And whatever grudging enjoyment I derived from some of their music was pretty much eviscerated by the time of 1985's Brothers In Arms, which was so omnipresent during my college years (equaled only by maybe U2's Joshua Tree) that I couldn't help but reject it outright, regardless of its artistic merit.

But like I said, I've come around.  Maybe not to Brothers In Arms, which I still can't hear without feeling like an R.E.M.-loving college radio nerd bristling against the album's cultural oversaturation, but certainly to their earlier albums.  And while I kinda dig the debut and, to a lesser extent, Communique, it's the third one I probably play most often (aside from Live Alchemy; I kinda prefer them in a live, jammier environment, where Knopfler's guitar pyrotechnics shine).

"Skateaway" is fantastic, my favorite Straits tune, Mark Knopfler's guitars buoyant and perky, the song alternating between one of his theatric, soft-spoken narratives and a rousing arena-ready chorus.  "Romeo and Juliet" is lovely, "Tunnel of Love" engaging; that first side, with the longer running times giving the songs room to build and pivot, is a joy throughout.  The second side is less enjoyable for me; I'm not as much a fan of Knopfler's shorter, harder-rocking songs.  And I don't like closer "Les Boys" at all, which sounds like a Transformer/Berlin-era Lou Reed song, fey cabaret but without Reed's commitment to the camp.  

Still, if only for the first side of the LP and bits of the second, it's, again, decent enough. 

Here's that "Skateaway" video you remember from MTV!
And here's "Tunnel of Love," live and jammed out to about 16 minutes, which is actually the side of Dire Straits I prefer.

Comments

  1. Humanfund here.

    Very interesting opening concept. Some music is indeed too good to be mere background, and this DStraits definitely isn't. 'Cept I would probably mistake Knoepfler's vocals for Dylan, and that mistake would buzz in my skull like a lazy fly.

    Just wondering, are you saying you rejected Joshua Tree outright? I agree that it's still next to impossible to listen to Where the Streets or With or Without or I Still Haven't Found. But what about deeper cuts like Trip Through or One Tree Hill.

    Or are you perhaps implying that Brothers in Arms has merit?

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