Dire Straits in 1980 was high and low… high: riding success from the last two records, and adding E Street keyboardist Roy Bittan… low: David Knopfler left the band during recording of this record. Through it all, this became one helluva record. Check it out:
Tunnel Of Love opens with an organ/piano intro (which is part of The Carousel Waltz by Rodgers & Hammerstein), before the band kicks into full Dire Straits blues rock mode. “She had a ticket for the races… let it rock and let it roll,” indeed. Love it. Romeo & Juliet is one of the band’s biggest songs and you know why. How gorgeous can it get? Just listen… Of course it was a single too. Skateaway builds into a decent rocker, but there’s something in the production that makes the bass drum thump weirdly, with an echo or something. I can’t not hear it, especially in the good headphones.
Expresso Love grows into a solid Dire Straits via E Street sound, and the combination totally works. Hand In Hand starts out pretty with piano and gently strummed guitar, then becomes a full band mid-tempo love track with a decent swing to it… and then the feel shifts multiple times throughout the song, which really holds the ear. Solid Rock is exactly that, straight up bluesy barroom rock Dire Straits-style, complete with rollicking keys in the background. Go go go! And finally, Les Boys is an interesting slow country-ish stomp tune about what the boys are up to together… It’s definitely an oddity on the album, but it’s fine by me.
I really liked this one, for the most part. A couple of odd choices, sound and tune-wise, but the overall record stands tall on the strength of its best songs, and it adds beautifully to the discography.
BONUS: For a great post and concert reminiscences on this one, READ 80SMETALMAN’S POST!