Atso’s Time Machine: Year 1980 & Dire Straits – Making Movies

Making Movies, the third studio album by Dire Straits, was released on 17 October 1980. In a certain way the evolution of the band during its first years culminated on this record: with the following ones they moved on to softer expression while this one still has some edge.

The album starts with Tunnel of Love. This one is a song to be listened via LP: the fade in and the intro played with organ and piano (it’s borrowed from Carousel Waltz, actually) is great. By the way, sitting behind the keyboards on this album is one Roy Bittan, who is described in the inner sleeve of the record as “Courtesy of the E Street Band”. So he’s main activity has been playing in Bruce Springsteen’s trusty band since 1975.

When the band rushes in and the lead guitar takes its place, the band playing is instantly recognisable.  Knopfler’s guitar sound and vocal performance are inimitable. The story of the song is easy: a boy meets a girl and the adventure begins: the arrow of love pierces through boys heart and soul.

The chorus is light and catchy. The sounds and imagery come from their time during the late 70s and early 80s, especially the reference of the “neon light burning”.

With the next verse comes some uncertainty. The girl wants to keep the boy as a stranger and not know too much about him. The chorus following verse is the same as first time: “Tunnel of love” is of course a metaphor. “Spanish City” is in real life a place in Newcastle, England.

When the girl leaves the boy in the end of the verse, Knopfler’s lines get heart-rending:  “And watched her walk away / I could have caught up with her easy enough / but something must have made me stay”.

After the chorus comes a solo during which the rhythm of the song is molded a bit before returning to the basic groove. Knopfler’s guitar sings the same song all the time, at times it almost feels as the guitar is in main role and the vocals are irrelevant. In the last quiet section (“And girl it looked so pretty to me…”) Mark’s singing is perfectly unperfect, small and almost whispering. With the guitar leading the song gets out of this quiet section one more time.

The guitar melodies during the outro are beautiful and Knopfler plays at his most soulful. His guitar sound is so bare it wouldn’t forgive any mistakes. The band plays as a piece. As the outro reaches its finale both Bittan’s piano and Knopfler’s guitar rise to higher, specifically selected notes.

I listened to Tunnel of Love via Youtube a while ago. There was a great comment for this one: “I wish this song would never end…”. The effect of fade out is at its best on this song: the listener would want to drag the song out of the “well of heard songs” to play once more.

The record continues with Romeo and Juliet. For me this is the number 1 love song by Dire Straits. It starts with an acoustic guitar arpeggio, played by Knopfler with his legendary resonator guitar. The bass is playing a few selected notes while Knopfler sings in his trademark tone, almost speaking at times. The text is a classic one about Romeo and Juliet.

Juliet / the dice was loaded from the start / and I bet / and you exploded in to my heart

The last line of the chorus is especially a classical one: “When you’re gonna realise / it was just that time was wrong”.

The lovers are, like in the original story, from different backgrounds. Their dreams are the same however, and for a while they were shared. Now all there’s nothing left and the narrator is only one of Julia’s “previous cases”. Knopfler sings from the point of view of the one to have been left: saying you can fall for everyone for a moment. Although they had promised everything, all there’s left now are memories. The band accompanies with single, powerful strokes. The line “I used to have a scene with him” is even sang in contemptous tone.

The second chorus is a bit different than the first one. Now the narrator remembers when they pretended to be in love and promised it would last forever. The time was just wrong, however…

The third verse is a silent one, Knopfler singing even more whispering. The boy can’t talk like on the TV and he can’t write a love song like the way it’s meant to be but he would do anything for his Julia. During the last half of the chorus the band plays minimally. All the narrator has are his thoughts and memories of Julia and their moments together. The ending of this verse of verse is beautiful: love remains through the rhymes along with a spark of hope.

The song ends with the chorus heard after the previous verse. There’s a last half of verse however: there’s always Romeo and Juliet somewhere, the boy asking “you and me babe, how about it?”.

Skateaway is the last song on the LP-versions A-side. This one has a fade in like in “Tunnel of Love”, this time led by tambourine and drums. The chord progression sounds familiar. The song is about a girl who skates around with headphones on, listening to rock ‘n’ roll: rock music offers her a chance of escaping this cruel world.

“She gets rock’n’roll in a rock’n’roll station / and a rock n roll dream-
She’s making movies on location / she don’t know what it means
But the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song what it was
Rollergirl don’t worry
D.J. play the movies all night long”

There’s the album title as well! If this song had to be packed in some way, I’d do it with the lines “But the music make her wanna be the story / And the story was whatever was the song what it was”. The song goes on with the melody and the band in the front, not like its predecessors with Knopfer’s guitar. The chorus is traditional sounding Dire Straits. Bittan’s piano can be heard nicely as well.

Come sippin’ and a slidin’ / life’s a rollerball

Slippin’ and slidin’ / skateaway, that’s all

That’s what it is. This song has a long outro, as like the its story goes on and the song keeps on playing in the girl’s headphones…

The B-side of the LP starts with Expresso Love. Knopfler counts the song in and joins in with his guitar. Also in comes Bittan’s dramatic sounding piano.

The first time I heard this one has been stuck in my memories. It was the beginning of October in 2008, Lieksa’s landmark Kaarisilta (=”arc bridge”), MP3-player and cycling home from school. I think it was a thursday afternoon, and a beautiful one.

This one is a love song as well, telling the story of a girl who has charmed a boy. Just before the band kicks in there’s a reference to “honeysuckle mask”, which is a kind of facial mask treatment. The girl must be using it, because she smells like a rose and tastes like a peach. The boy would do anything for her… According to him “she was made in heaven and heaven’s in the world”.

The boy asks himself if it’s just “Expresso Love”, meaning it only lasts a moment and then goes away.

The line in the second verse “hey mister, you wanna take a walk in the wild west end sometime?” is a reference to the band’s debut album and a song in it called Wild West End. The narrator gets trouble with his breathing, when the girl says that boys don’t know anything. This one does know what he wants: he wants please his girl. He also wants “everything”.

After the chorus we get to the C-section: albeit being Expresso Love, but it feels good because it feels right, Knopfler singing “I was made to be with my girl like a saxophone was made to blow in the night”. The following solo is however played with a guitar, not a saxophone. There’s some smart harmonic riffs in the end of the solo to be heard.

During the last quiet verse the couple is close to each other although this is not directly called, the girl is doing her magic. Then they surrender: it might be just “Expresso Love”, but it feels good.

This one rocks in a different way than the other songs on the album, kind of bolder. The feel of the drama is different.

The memory of the first listen of this next one is also vividly in mind: it occured in the second year of high school during the day’s opening via central radio. A song was played there that sounded unerringly like Dire Straits but I didn’t recognise it. The sound of it told me it must had to be from the record Making Movies. Later that day I had to call and ask  the girl who had played the song what it was: the call was made from swimming baths’ cafe!

The song was called Hand in Hand. It starts with a beautiful intro decorated by an acoustic guitar and the piano. “The sky is crying, the streets are full of tears”. The narrator know how read between the lines during the hard times. The metaphor of the detergent effect of rain is a classic.

The chorus is straight: although I might have treated you bad, I never never wanted no one else. I wish we could go on hand in hand like lovers are supposed to. The band plays assertively and the melody has familiar tones. Knopfler’s singing has more edge and some kind of power than the previous ones.

In the second verse the dreaming goes on and the narrator talks about sleeping next to each other and how lovely it would be to ask “baby, what’s wrong?”. The verse condenses in its last line “if my love’s in vain / how come my love is so strong?”.

The following chorus is the same as the first. After that comes the last verse, which once again chimes quietly. The narrator speaks, that even if the main couple goes ahead together or apart they’ll go in the same direction but the girl wouldn’t let him close. It all ends up in a love gone wrong, once again. The boy wonders that although things change, will the girl think about him anymore.

After the last chorus the song gets back to its beginning. The last line gets a new tone althought it was heard previously. “Oh, I can read between the lines” sound almost sarcastic this time.

This song and Romeo & Juliet are almost like cousins, I think. They both got a similar acoustic sound and the stories have got some similarities as well.

The penultimate song on the album is its only basic rock’n’roll song Solid Rock Accompanied by great rock piano it’s a song with lyrics full of metaphors and trademark guitar playing by mr. Knopfler. The castles made of sand go with the tide.

There’s a funny emanation in the chorus. “Solid Rock! I wanna give, I don’t wanna be blocked”. In the second verse the narrator is displeased with possibilities and vanity, it would be more important to focus in the essential. There’s also a question of which is more stupid: to make a silk purse or live in an illusion or confusion. In the C-section he states that a house of card was never made to last in the wind, but two solid rocks can take any kind of weather.

After a punchy guitar solo comes the third verse, which has some great rhyming.

“Because the heart that you break / that’s the one that you rely on
The bed that you make / that’s the one you gotta lie on
When you point your finger ‘cos your plan fell through
you got three more fingers pointing back at you

The song ends with the chorus: it needs nothing more. It’s the shortest song on the album, lasting only 3 minutes and 27 seconds. Nothing superflous!

Les Boys is the last song on the album. There’s not much to say about this one: in my mind it’s just a funny piece of music to end the record. The guitar sound is traditionally clear and piano accompanies it nicely. If there would have been one more great song in this slot the record could have taken the next level…


Lasting 37 minutes, Making Movies is a record full of strong material. It’s also easy to listen to: not full of stuff but all of it (well, excluding the last track) has been produced with a good taste. I’ve got this album as a CD and LP as well, sadly the latter hasn’t aged very well…

Atso’s Time Machine: Year 2010 & Jenni Vartiainen – Seili

Seili is the second solo album by Jenni Vartiainen. It was released digitally on 31 March 2010, followed with the official physical CD-release on 14 April. After the success of her debut album it was expected that her quite unique pop expression was to progress: hence happened.

The album starts with a mystical instrumental song, driven by piano. In Koti it’s Vartiainen herself who sits behind the keyboards. The atmosphere the song sets to whole record can be easily sensed. With its duration of just under 1:30 the song is nicely linked to the next one…

…which bears the name Seili. The atmosphere changes like in a scene from a movie: now the story starts to really evolve! The main character in the song is called Sofia Ryysyläinen. Seili evenly grows and gets bigger and in the first chorus (in the line “halki synkän veen vene hiljalleen lipuu saareen syrjäiseen”to be precise) I marked in my listening diary that “this song has some power!”. The “poppy” (in a good way) sounds come in opposite the piano that led the first song. When the electronic drums start to bang the feel of the song gets more tight and the synthesizers take power. The last section of the song gets to surprise, It’s like from another song. The listener is pretty likely to ask the question “what is Seili?”. Well, the next line summarizes it up rather well: mukana naulat ja lautaa / niistä leposijan saa / sata on Seilissä hautaa / ja satoja vielä kaivetaan. It means that with nails and timber one can make a tomb, and in Seili there’s hundred of them and more to come.

The third track of the album is also its first single En haluu kuolla tänä yönä. When this first came out on the radio it depressed me, because you can’t sing about suicide on the first single if you want to make a great record. Well, it was just that I hadn’t listened this closely enough: it’s not about those things at all…

This song has a flamboyant intro led by synthesizers. It makes this song sound like a hit before the main vocalist even starts! The composition is great, like from “Pop music’s textbook”. Lyrics are apt as well, but the rhyming of poistumaan-maistumaan limps pretty badly.

In the C-section and the following quiet verse the song declares it’s theme, which is pop-music’s folklore at its most traditional: “everything has it’s time, but now it’s time to party”. Although the musical ground and use of instruments is as good as it gets in finnish pop music, it feels that Jenni’s vocal performance manages to carry the whole thing.

The fourth song, Nettiin, starts with a baffling banjo, creating a contrast to the text that doesn’t really have anything funny in it. The reference to “Annankadun kaksio” (=the two-room apartment in Annankatu) gives the lyrics a clear amount of humanity as opposed to its predecessors.

The chorus is great in this song as well. The question “tätäkö se tarkoitti? (=is this what it meant)” could be asked from many things. The second verse is a little bit lame. The expression “munapää (=dickhead)” comes out of nowhere but has its place in the text. The verses in this song serve as base (and as a kind of justification) for the chorus which fortunately enough is quite strong. This one also has the quiet middle section before the last couple of refrains…

Next song to follow is Missä muruseni on: perhaps the greatest Finnish ballad released on the 21st century. The mystical atmosphere floats for the whole song: who is the one missed in this song, where has he/she gone and why – none of this questions gets to have an answer.

The first line ”Yöllä taas mä menin parvekkeelle nukkumaan… (=At night I went sleeping in the balcony again)” sets the scene. There’s nothing too much, not a single sound. The reference of a shooting star and the wish that follows are among the classic of pop-lyric, but sound good. The melody in the chorus is beautiful and there’s a few splendid choice of notes that make it even unique. I think there might be even some obsolescent Finnish folk song melody there somewhere?

The drums come in little by little and the text in the second verse is strong. The following chorus has more power than the first since the drums really kick in. The song is driven by piano and strings. There’s a piano fill that can be heard in the middle of the choruses: it’s the cornerstone of the latter half of the song with the vocal performance by Vartiainen. Especially the divergent melody in the line “leiki hetki hänen hiuksillaan” is wonderful. This song also ends without fade out. Great, great song.

The next was also a big hit: Duran Duran. The song starts without an actual intro, setting the time of the event pretty clearly right in the beginning: “näin myöhään yöllä… mutta lauantai-aamu… (=this late in the night… but Saturday-morning). The hazy atmosphere of a night club can be sensed and the reference to Duran Duran is apposite: this song is very likely to occur in recent history.

Once again the chorus has its hit affinity. Tältäkö se tuntuu / kun löytää oikean / hei tältäkö se tuntuu / ennen kuin me suudellaan / ensimmäisen kerran / mä olen elossa / hei ota minut kiinni / ennen kuin yö katoaa (=Is this how it feels / when you find the one / hey, is this how it feels / before we kiss / for the first time / I feel like I’m alive / hey, catch me / before the night disappears”). The chorus also has a nice trick: where does that “first time” refer to: the first kiss or the first time the main character feels alive?

There’s some nice details in the second verse: Simon Le Bon, Rio and even Jenni herself, that’s pretty rare. The same verse also has the most horrible rhyme of the album pakoon-pogoo…

I remember when the record came out and we had some conversation about the drum track of this specific song with some drummer friends. The comments were something like “there has been a guy who programmed the drum track first with a computer, and then there was some f**got who played them with real drums”.

This song also has the quiet section before the last refrains. This time it is not an actual verse, but a separate middle section led by keyboard. The remainder of the song is the hit-sounding-chorus.

The next song starts with a piano-intro that has been heard many times. Is this Oasis’ Stop Crying Your Heart Out? No, it’s Minä ja hän.

Sitten kun oon viimeisen lauluni laulanut… (=After I have sung my last song…). When a song talks about a last song, it has to be taken seriously. There’s something oriental and mystical in the air once again, just like in “Missä muruseni on”: must be the sitar-sounding instrument in the arrangement. The percussion track is especially well arranged and played, the rhythm of the shaker is simple but intriguing. It only makes the expection of a single sixteenth-note, bringing much more life to the sound.

The text is basic pop but still working well. The theme is a classical thought of love lasting forever. This was a song, that caught my attention from the first listen.

The last transformation from the verse to the chorus is divergent, like the melodies in the last few refrains. This one also ends without fade out, yeah!

Kiittämätön comes from a different world of sounds than the previous ones. Acoustic guitars chime and the atmosphere is intimate from the beginning.

The lyrics contain strong lines one after another. ”Kameroilla muisti / tuijotan mun jalkoja” (=The cameras’ got a memory / I’m looking at my feet) creates an image of the central character in this song. ”Kun on vielä nuori kaikkee pitää kokeilla / elä, opi, koe, et’ myöhemmin ei kaduta(“=When you’re still young you have to try everything / live, learn and experience so you don’t have to be sorry later on) can be taken as a some sort of wisdom. The chorus in this song isn’t as poppy as in some other songs on this album but it’s lyrics are to be taken very seriously.

Second verse also has some quality writing. ”Sinä olet siinä, kaikkihan on kunnossa / enkä kerro mistään, kun en tahdo loukata(=You are there, everything’s fine / and I don’t want to tell about anything since I don’t want to hurt you). Vibraphone makes its clicks and a string section also comes in but the general appearance of sound is acoustic. The last few lines of the song also give a kind of “twist” in the story.

Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa is started by a electronic drum beat. This song suffers a bit from its placement in the song order: there’s a feeling that the slow songs ahead might weaken the pop-momentum created in the first half of the album. However, the song can’t be accused of not trying to build it once more, especially from the line “jos etsit mua / niin täällä oon” ahead. In fact, the chorus comes from the same production line as the ones in the previous ones.

Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa isn’t as strong a song as many of the other ones on this album. It remains a bit pale, sort of a copy manufactured on an assembly line. ”Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa (=can’t we be saved by anyone) is a fine line, however. There’s keyboards all over the place and the drums sound grand.

The album is closed with Halvalla. Except that it’s the last song of the record it also bears a resemblance to artists’ first record Ihmisten edessä three years prior, in the year 2007.

Vartiainen gets to the listeners skin in a some way as in Kiittämätön. There’s a certain tranquility in the whole song, with the refrain being as beautiful as what. There’s a glow of intimacy in this one.

Vain hiuksiasi hiljaa kosketan / en rakkaudesta mitään ymmärrä(=I only touch your hair softly / without understanding anything about love) – the character confesses things, but everything is still alright.

The C-section is magnificent. ”Hei ollaan vain paikoillaan / turha on etsiä kauempaa / kun on hieno maailma jo tarjolla (=Hey let’s stay here / we don’t have to look from afar / since we have a beautiful world just here)”. This is something to be remembered. This section is effective even if the chord progression is familiar from many other songs. Vartiainen patches this with a few nice bluesy choice of notes. In the background there’s once again a string section playing sounds to tear the listeners innermost.


I personally think this is the best pop record from Finland in the 21st century. Maybe I should listen more records from this genre from the previous decades to find out if there’s any contestants from those times either. Especially well are working the production by Jukka Immonen and the sounds, nicely echoing from the 80s.

During the last few listening sessions this record has sounded even better than what it sounded like on the first time around. The latter half of the record is also great although during the first listens the radio hits from the beginning tend to grab the attention. I also have to mention the fibes I got during the last sessions with this record, that were something not often experienced with Finnish records: damn, this one has great songs one after another!