“Bob’s bad stuff is better than other musicians’ best”
Down in the Groove is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan‘s 25th studio album, released by Columbia Records 30 May 1988. Egil here at Johannasvisions rate it as maybe Dylan’s lowest point. Me? I’m not so sure anymore…
It got pretty terrible reviews upon it’s release. Many reviewers compared it to his previous album, Knocked Out Loaded, and not in a favourable way.
“A highly collaborative effort, it was Dylan’s second consecutive album to receive almost unanimous negative reviews. Released during a period when his recording career was experiencing a slump, sales were disappointing, reaching only #61 in the US and #32 in the UK.”
How is it in hindsight? Was it unfairly slated? I think it’s better than reported and as usual Dylan’s standards were expected to be higher than anybody else’s. We cannot expect a masterpiece every time. Can we?
The album was delayed for more than six months and the track listing changed at least three times. The tracks that made the final album come from many different recording sessions spread out over a long time (six years?).
I’ve always thought of it as a strangely confusing album, but it gets less confusing with each listen session. It has some very good cover songs. Let’s Stick together opens the record in an energetic way, I would love to hear it live!
The comes the song I think is not very good at all, the cover When did you leave heaven. Very eighties drum sound, strange production, it just sounds a bit off, I don’t think the song suits Dylan, and it ends kind of funny.
Sally Sue Brown, the third track is another rockn’roll/soul standard that gets a good run through. I prefer Arthur Alexanders classic, but it is not bad at all.
The last three songs on the album are also cover songs (Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a dead end street), Shenandoah and Rank Strangers To Me, and they are all quite good actually.
I like Rank Strangers To Me best (the closing track). Dylan sings beautifully.
Let’s also include a fine live version from Wembley 1997:
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