"Makin' Movies" was the Dire Straits comeback album, following the relatively poor performance of their second LP, "Communique". Starting off a seven-song album with an eight minute song might seem like suicide, but all the tracks are so strong that such a bold move made sense.
The band had to re-invent themselves after a dodgy patch involving a half-empty second US tour and David Knopfler leaving half-way through the recording of this album. The results, though, were a real step up for the band. Mark Knopfler's songwriting moved into a completely different league to that on display on the previous two records. He'd also started taking control of the production with this album too. It's his vision from start to finish.
"Tunnel of Love", the eight-minute opener, moves around like one of the twisters he sings about. The long guitar solo ended up becoming a highlight of the live show and is still an example of how to write innovative guitar music. It's just a great song.
The commercial highlight comes early on in the form of "Romeo and Juliet", which was a successful Top Ten hit here in the UK. The lyrics are standard fare but the whole song works well. The dynamics are excellent, the ebb and flow help the story along.
"Skateaway" is a very American sounding early-eighties pop song. It was a single in the US, but listening to it now, it seems to be stuck in that time. There are some nice ideas (a strong melody, for a start) and Pick Withers' drumming is as impressive as ever.
"Expresso Love" is probably the most sexist song in Knopfler's notepad. There's some good riffing going on, but those lyrics...! "I was made to go with this girl just like the saxophone was made to go with the night." Hello? Just... NO!
That track is followed by greatness: "Hand in Hand". "Romeo & Juliet" may have made the charts, but "Hand in Hand" has got great lyrics (Elmore James' influence shown in the opening line, blues fans!), brilliant playing and from start to finish is a powerful and emotional piece of writing.
"Solid Rock" probably states most clearly Mark Knopfler's vision of the band. Strip away all the glitz and glamour and you have a band that is really determined to make it. And after the two albums that followed this, you couldn't argue with that vision.
The final track "Les Boys" is fairly funny, but seems to be hindered by Knopfler's lack of confidence in this area. Knopfler seems to be confused as to whether to ham it up or tone it down and the song itself crosses the line between humour and offence.
Overall, the concepts, sounds and songwriting are beyond what Knopfler could have achieved just twelve months before and the prominence of the keyboards really lifts the whole set. The attitude and character shown here is what gives that album four rather than three stars.