Commentary on each Bob Dylan album and other related recordings.
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Down in the Groove: Dylan Gets Back
Released May 30, 1988
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.