Number 610 - Dire Straits
"Romeo & Juliet"
Dire Straits emerged during the post-punk era of the late '70s, and while their sound was minimalistic and stripped down, they owed little to punk. If anything, the band was a direct outgrowth of the roots revivalism of pub rock, but where pub rock celebrated good times, Dire Straits were melancholy. Led by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler, the group built their sound upon the laid-back blues-rock of J.J. Cale, but they also had jazz and country inflections, occasionally dipping into the epic song structures of progressive rock. The band's music was offset by Knopfler's lyrics, which approximated the winding, stream-of-conscious narratives of Bob Dylan. As their career progressed, Dire Straits became more refined and their new maturity happened to coincide with the rise of MTV and the compact disc. These two musical revolutions from the mid-'80s helped make Dire Straits' sixth album, Brothers in Arms, an international blockbuster. The band -- along with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, and Steve Winwood -- become one of the leaders of a group of self-consciously mature veteran rock & rollers in the late '80s that designed their music to appeal to aging baby boomers. Despite the band's international success, they couldn't sustain their stardom, waiting a full six years to deliver a follow-up to Brothers in Arms, by which time their audience had shrunk significantly.
Dire Straits established Dire Straits as a major force on album-oriented radio in America, and their second album, Communique (1979), consolidated their audience, selling three million copies worldwide. As the group was recording its third album, Knopfler left the band to pursue a solo career; he was replaced by former Darling member Hal Lindes. Like its predecessor, Making Movies was a sizable hit in America and Britain, even though the band was criticized for musically treading water. Nevertheless, the record went gold on the strength of the radio and MTV hits "Romeo and Juliet" and "Skateaway." Dire Straits followed the album two years later with Love Over Gold, an album filled with long, experimental passages, plus the single "Private Investigations," which became a number two hit in the U.K. The album went gold in America and spent four weeks at number one in Britain. Shortly after the release of Love Over Gold, former Rockpile drummer Terry Williams replaced Withers.
For Tina Turner see Number 756
For Randy Newman see Number 958
For Bob Dylan see Number 929 & Number 841
For Steve Winwood see Number 622
For John Lennon see Number 639
For Billy Joel see Number 849
For Phil Collins see Number 684
For Eic Clapton see Number 537
What did Rolling Stone think of Dire Straits
Singer, songwriter and ace guitarist Mark Knopfler is the impressive sum of several very appealing parts. His voice is a smoky mixture of Bob Dylan's acidic whine, Tom Waits' tubercular snore and JJ Cale's breathy, marbles-in-the-mouth whisper. He writes such songs as "Sultans of Swing" and "Once upon a Time in the West" with the cinematic flair of Bruce Springsteen, the hall-of-mirrors imagery of classic Dylan and the slashing thrusts of Neil Young's bayonetlike realism. Finally, Knopfler's guitar style is a shotgun wedding of jazzy chording and harmonic tangents descended from Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery, the no-nonsense electric blues of BB King, Jimi Hendrix' string-bending sensuality and James Burton's country-pop sheen.
Guitar freaks who genuflected over every riff on Dire Straits and Communiqué may be disappointed at what seems like a shortage of raveup Knopfler solos on Making Movies. There are a few (in "Tunnel of Love" and "Solid Rock"), but the beauty of the artist's current playing is that each note and phrase is woven into the fabric of the tales he tells. Unlike the other LPs, this one boasts songs, not solos.
More important, 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. (RS 336)
For Bruce Springsteen see Number 817
For Neil Young See Number 677 & Number 938
For Jimi Hendrix see Number 718
Labels: Dire Straits 610