Down in the Groove: Dylan Gets Back
Down in the Groove, at the very least, displayed improvement over Dylan's previous LP Knocked Out Loaded. For what it lacks in original material, there's enough to suggest Dylan was getting the ship back on course. Opening track "Let's Stick Together" is a pleasant pop-rock version of W. Harrison's R&B classic. The quiet soul of "When Did You Leave Heaven" has a Fifties feel. Arthur Alexander's"Sally Sue Brown" once again channels early R&B. "Death is Not the End" sounds like a reworked song from Dylan's Christian period - steady beat and solemn vocals set a striking mood. "Had a Dream About You, Baby," sounds like another ode to Elvis. Dylan also wrote two songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter: "Ugliest Girl in the World" and "Silvio." The former is an awful song title, but the latter is rather catchy and even earned a place on a Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. III. "Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dean End Street)" is another nod to Elvis with some good harmonies. Dylan closed the album with two American traditional songs "Shenandoah" and Albert Brumley's gospel standard "Rank Strangers to Me." Critics were tough on Down on the Groove, Dylan seemed more out of touch then ever. Nevertheless, the album's aged well. Dylan was getting back to his roots: folk standards and the music of his youth. After a decade of experimenting with new production methods and occasional writer's block, Dylan was carving out a new path by going back to the basics.
|Released May 30, 1988|
Knocked Out Loaded has one of Dylan's all time greatest epic songs, "Brownsville Girl" and therefore was very worthwhile.ReplyDelete
Nice review. I've always liked this record. "Shenandoah" is a standout for me, as is "Ninety Miles and Hour". I don't care for "Ugliest Girl In The World", but at least it shows that Bob and Robert's humor was flowing.ReplyDelete
Dylan's downward slide in the 80s only stopped when he fell Down in the Groove.ReplyDelete
Brownsville Girl by itself is better than DITG.
'When Did You Leave Heaven' and 'Rank Strangers' are lovely and I think I'm in the minority in enjoying his interpretation of 'Ninety Miles an Hour'. I could probably live without the rest of the album.ReplyDelete
Next up, Bob releases both his very worst album and one of his better albums within the space of a few months.....
A ragbag collection which I would not mind ( I am not always in pursuit of great art ) if his singing was inspired. This has some of his best singing such as the last three songs and some of his worst such as awful ' Sally Sue Brown' and the truly dire ' Ugliest Girl...'. This album seems influenced by his hanging out with and performing with the Grateful Dead. Incidentally, ' Death is not the End' is an 'Infidels' outtake and the throwaway ' Had A Dream About You Baby' should have stayed where it belonged on the truly sad Hearts of Fire' soundtrack. This is the worst Dylan album by a long stretch and at the time there did not appear a way back.ReplyDelete
I'd take 'Down in the Groove' over 'Dylan and the Dead' any day of the week cathada. In fact I'd take the sound of the phone ringing over 'Dylan and the Dead'!ReplyDelete
The Sweed...absolutely right. I was thinking about the studio albums when I called DITG his worst album. Amazing to think that Dylan reportedly chose the songs himself for the Dead album...perverse or what?Delete
Thanks! A wacky period for sure, but it gets better.ReplyDelete
DITG is much better than the albums immediately preceding it - no more messing around with 80's production, Bob is stripping the sound down to the basics again. Not one of his classics, but it's enjoyable enough.ReplyDelete