Commentary on each Bob Dylan album and other related recordings.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Knocked Out Loaded: Dylan's Junk Drawer
Released July 14, 1986
If anything, the title is appropriate. There's no getting around it, Knocked OutLoaded is a sub standard Dylan album. In 1986 and 1987, Dylan toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, playing generic greatest hits heavy set lists. In Chronicles Dylan recalled the lack of enthusiasm he put into those performances, while Petty was at the top of his game. Dylan wanted to record an album backed by the Heartbreakers but it never took off (although the Heartbreakers appear on KOL). Dylan and Petty's best collaboration "Jammin' Me" appeared on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1987 LP Let Me Up (I've Had Enough). The bluesy opener "You Wanna Ramble" shows promise, but the next track "They Killed Him" pretty much derails the album. A tribute to Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus (written by Kris Kristofferson) falls embarrassingly flat with children's choir and all. "Driftin' To Far From the Shore" sounds like an outtake from Empire Burlesque. "Precious Memories" offers some soothing reggae. "Brownsville Girl", often considered a diamond in the rough, works better as a prose poem instead of a song. "Maybe Someday," "I've Got My Mind Made Up," and "Under Your Spell" are all forgettable. Knocked Out Loaded adds up to nothing more than a random collection of odds and ends, an uninspired commercial product. At its best, all too brief flashes of the old magic. I understand KnockedOut Loaded has a cult following - so contrary comments are welcome!