Saturday, November 01, 2008

Album Of The Day #102: DOWN IN THE GROOVE

Title: Down in the Groove
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 1988
Songs: Let’s Stick Together [W. Harrison]/When Did You Leave Heaven? [Richard Whiting & Walter Bullock]/Sally Sue Brown [Arthur Alexander, E. Montgomery & T. Stafford]/Death Is Not The End [Bob Dylan]/Had A Dream About You, Baby [Bob Dylan]/Ugliest Girl In The World [Bob Dylan & Robert Hunter]/Silvio [Bob Dylan & Robert Hunter]/Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street) [Don Robertson & Hal Blair]/Shenandoah [Traditional]/Rank Strangers (To Me) [Albert E. Brumley]
(There is no production credit.)
Thoughts: Asking whether Down in the Groove is better than Knocked Out Loaded is like asking someone to pick the better of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler. I like Knocked Out Loaded more, firstly, because there’s only eight songs to make fun of, and secondly, because the originals are stronger. Then again, couldn’t anything be stronger than “Had A Dream About You, Baby”? It’s actually not that bad, musically, but the lyrics are so embarrassing. The verses are just terrible, cliché – filled couplets; the choruses are pretty straight forward…then, there’s the bridge:
The joint is jumpin'
It's really somethin'
The beat is pumpin'
My heart is thumpin'
Spent my money on you honey
My limbs are shakin'
My heart is breakin'
Ouch…that had to hurt.
There is only one other solo-Dylan composition, that being the Empire Burlesque outtake “Death Is Not The End” (meaning that the song is almost three years older than everything else here). You know, if you ever wanted to feel depressed, just put this song on. Not only is the song the slowest thing Dylan ever wrote, but, again, the lyrics show why this was an outtake…and should have never left the vaults.
The other two originals are co-writes with Robert Hunter, the lyricist of the Grateful Dead. Now, I don’t know how “Ugliest Girl In The World” and “Silvio” hold up against the best of Hunter’s work because I’m unfamiliar with the Dead, beyond a few listens of American Beauty. However, I know how well they hold up against the rest of the material here. They are, without a doubt, the best songs on here. “Ugliest Girl In The World” is a complete joke set to music. Really, the idea of loving the most disgusting person in the earth is just funny. I could care less about what the topic of “Silvio” is, but I love the song. I love the melody and the lyrics. It rightfully is the only track to be included on compilations (it has appeared on Greatest Hits, Vol. III and The Essential Bob Dylan).
As for the covers, I have no idea where the hell Bob got these songs, but none of them are good and a majority of them are embarrassing. “Let’s Stick Together” starts the album terribly. His vocal is off and he sounds completely out of it, which is a shame, because the band behind him sounds pretty good. “When Did You Leave Heaven?” and “Sally Sue Brown” are so bad, that there’s no way anyone could have saved them. “Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street)” is interesting and probably the only cover I could say is listenable. “Shenandoah” is horrid. Whereas “Precious Memories” on Knocked Out Loaded was pretty good, “Shenandoah” is just strange, because of the oddball arrangement. Finally, the album finishes out with “Rank Strangers (To Me)”, which has the potential to be a great closer, but it just misses the mark. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s probably that it’s such a weak performance.
Looking at this release, it’s fair to say I made a wise decision for picking this up used for $5. I simply would not spend any more than that on this release.

I already wrote about Oh Mercy and Under The Red Sky, so the next one will be on Good As I Been To You.

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