July 14: Bob Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded in 1986

bob dylan knocked out

“You see, I spend too much time working out the sound of my records these days, .. and if the records I’m making only sell a certain amount anyway, then why should I take so long putting them together?… I’ve got a lot of different records inside me, and it’s time just to start getting them out.”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, Sept 1985)

“I’m thinking about calling this album Knocked Out Loaded, Is that any good, you think, Knocked Out Loaded?”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore, May 1986)

“Sounds like something he threw together in a week and away forever. But throwing it away is how he gets that off-the-cuff feel, and side two is great fun”
~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)

Among his ten weakest albums, but it includes the brilliant “Brownsville Girl“.


Released July 14, 1986
Recorded Early 1986
Genre Rock
Length 36:11
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan

Knocked Out Loaded is the twenty-fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on July 14, 1986 by Columbia Records.

The album was received poorly upon release, and is still considered by some critics to be one of Dylan’s least-engaging efforts. However, the 11-minute epic “Brownsville Girl”—co-written by Sam Shepard—has been cited as one of his best by some critics.

The album includes three cover songs, three collaborations with other songwriters, and two solo compositions by Dylan. Most of the album was recorded in the spring of 1986 (several tracks built on instrumental tracks from 1985 sessions), but one track, “Got My Mind Made Up”, was reportedly recorded during a one-day break in the Dylan/Tom Petty “True Confessions” tour in June. One song, “Maybe Someday”, paraphrases a line from T. S. Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi: Eliot’s “And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly” becomes in Dylan “Through hostile cities and unfriendly towns”.

Covert Art

The cover art is a reworking of the January 1939 cover of Spicy Adventure Stories.

bob dylan knocked out loaded cover art source


Nevertheless after the overblown robotic coldness of Empire Burlesque this third-rate assemblage of studio scrapings, taken from various sessions 1984–86, has a warmth and human frailty that at least lets you in. Tired R&B (‘You Wanna Ramble’) and rockism (‘Got My Mind Made Up’); immaculately sung but shifty pop (‘Under Your Spell’); a cover of Kris Kristofferson’s wretched ‘They Killed Him’; and Dylan’s fine ‘Maybe Someday’ so badly produced that it is incomprehensible and could be sung by one of the Chipmunks. There’s a tender rendition, well-produced and refreshingly arranged, of the gospel standard ‘Precious Memories’, a robust cut of the good minor Dylan song ‘Driftin’ Too Far from Shore’ (with mad drumming), and, hidden among the dross, ‘Brownsville Girl’, co-written with Sam Shepard: a wonderful and innovative major work, intelligent and subtle, from a Bob Dylan out from behind his 1980s wall of self-contempt and wholly in command of his incomparable vocal resources.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

…Knocked Out Loaded, including four tracks from the spring 1986 sessions, and four overdubs of songs recorded at earlier sessions. The two weakest tracks are written by Dylan alone; three others are written by Dylan in collaboration with other writers (specifically writers of lyrics); and three songs are covers. I like the opening track, an obscure rockin’ blues called “You Wanna Ramble.” At times I quite enjoy Dylan’s performances of”Precious Memories,” “Under Your Spell,” “They Killed Him” (an absurd but rather charming production number, complete with children’s choir), and of course “Brownsville Girl,” the overdubbed version of “Danville Girl,” which serves as the centerpiece of and excuse for the album. Unfortunately, none of this material hangs together with the other tracks in the slightest; Dylan cannot have been surprised when the album (which was released shortly before the end of the tour; I bought a copy July 18) “peaked” on the U.S. charts at #55 (Empire Burlesque at least got to #33) and disappeared from sight shortly thereafter.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

… Still, Knocked Out Loaded is ultimately a depressing affair, because its slipshod, patchwork nature suggests that Dylan released this LP, not because he had anything in particular to say, but to cash in on his 1986 tour. Even worse, it suggests Dylan’s utter lack of artistic direction. Less bad than pointless, Knocked Out Loaded will prove most satisfying to those content to expect the very least from it. (RS 482)
~Anthony Decurtis (Rolling Stone Magazine)

It is considered a “minor Dylan album” by most reviewers, but there are other voices as well.

Check out this nice tribute page:

Track listing:

Side one
  1. “You Wanna Ramble” (Little Junior Parker) – 3:14
  2. “They Killed Him” (Kris Kristofferson) – 4:00
  3. “Driftin’ Too Far from Shore” (Bob Dylan) – 3:39
  4. “Precious Memories” (Trad. Arr. Bob Dylan) – 3:13
  5. “Maybe Someday” (Bob Dylan) – 3:17
Side two
  1. “Brownsville Girl” (Bob Dylan, Sam Shepard) – 11:00
  2. “Got My Mind Made Up” (Bob Dylan, Tom Petty) – 2:53
  3. “Under Your Spell” (Bob Dylan, Carole Bayer Sager) – 3:58


  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals, production
Additional musicians
  • Mike Berment – steel drums
  • Peggie Blu – background vocals
  • Majason Bracey – background vocals
  • Clem Burke – drums
  • T-Bone Burnett – guitar
  • Mike Campbell – guitar
  • Carolyn Dennis – background vocals
  • Steve Douglas – saxophone
  • Howie Epstein – bass guitar
  • Anton Fig – drums
  • Lara Firestone – background vocals
  • Pamela Quinlan – background vocals
  • Milton Gabriel – steel drums
  • Keysha Gwin – background vocals
  • Don Heffington – drums
  • Muffy Hendrix – background vocals
  • April Hendrix-Haberlan – background vocals
  • Ira Ingber – guitar
  • James Jamerson, Jr. – bass guitar
  • Dewey B. Jones II – background vocals
  • Phil Jones – conga
  • Al Kooper – keyboards
  • Stan Lynch – drums
  • Steve Madaio – trumpet
  • Queen Esther Marrow – background vocals
  • Larry Mayhand – background vocals
  • John McKenzie – bass guitar
  • Vince Melamed – keyboards
  • Larry Meyers – mandolin
  • Angel Newell – background vocals
  • Herbert Newell – background vocals
  • John Paris – bass guitar
  • Bryan Parris – steel drums
  • Al Perkins – steel guitar
  • Tom Petty – guitar
  • Crystal Pounds – background vocals
  • Raymond Lee Pounds – drums
  • Madelyn Quebec – background vocals
  • Vito San Filippo – bass guitar
  • Carl Sealove – bass guitar
  • Patrick Seymour – keyboards
  • Jack Sherman – guitar
  • Daina Smith – background vocals
  • Maia Smith – vocals
  • Medena Smith – background vocals
  • Dave Stewart – guitar
  • Benmont Tench – keyboards
  • Annette May Thomas – background vocals
  • Damien Turnbough – background vocals
  • Ronnie Wood – guitar
  • Chyna Wright – background vocals
  • Elesecia Wright – background vocals
  • Tiffany Wright – background vocals
Technical personnel
  • Britt Bacon – engineering
  • Judy Feltus – engineering
  • Greg Fulginiti – mastering
  • Don Smith – engineering
  • George Tutko – engineering

KOL @ Spotify:

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9 thoughts on “July 14: Bob Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded in 1986”

  1. The constantly changing Dylan, as we know him, has produced more than enough albums to more than enough fans, who may appreciate any or all. Knocked Out Loaded, to my mind, is as subjective to enjoyment as any other of Dylan’s workaholic record. Besides producing the LP, he has given his vocals, played three different instruments, engaged more than 50 professional musicians. I’m not complaining.
    By the way, my favourite on this LP is “Under your spell” with some simply great lines, ending with “… pray that I don’t die of thirst baby, two feet from the well”.

    1. Thanks for you interesting views.
      It’s not my favourite Dylan album, but as always, if you seek you’ll find some gems.

  2. I love Under Your Spell! Why is it so ignored? Some great lines in it. For example

    Well it’s four in the morning by the sound of the birds
    I’m staring’ at your picture, I’m hearing’ your words
    Baby, they ring in my head like a bell

    On the other hand I find Brownsville Girl overcooked. New Danville Girl is a far better attempt at it in my opinion

    1. I need to put Under your spell on play 🙂

      I love the final version of Brownsville Girl by the way, it’s the best film I’ve heard

      1. Though I always liked Brownsville Girl, once I acquired a very good soundbite Empire Burlesque Outtakes on a vinyl edition from 87! this year I fell for New Danville Girl, it sounds more subdued and serious, with most jokes still intact, but with a melancholy touch that gives it more that desert atmosphere. agreed, some lines from Brownsville Girl are perfecter, yet one very deep couplet has been left out. And the cinematic feel of New Danville Girl is just as great in my opinion, anyway, they are both great versions, the way it fits on the album Empire Burlesque Outtakes, with the crazy heartfelt Who Loves You More, and naked takes of some of the best of the EB songs, I know which elpee I grab for when I want to hear this masterpiece.

        1. Sorry for the auto correction mistakes left in my comment, I hate the new techniques.

  3. I have always liked this album, mostly because of Brownsville girl, but also Under your spell and Maybe Someday. I know that its not regarded as a highlight of his career, but I like it all the same. I also like Live at Budokan, so perhaps its something wrong with me 🙂

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