Ranking Bob Dylan’s 39 Studio Albums- coming in at #39 was Dylan from 1973, #38- Down In The Groove- 1988 and now this week at #37 -Knocked Out Loaded- 1986- Bob’s 24th album and the one preceding Down In The Groove his worst selling studio album. I will give Knocked Out Loaded 1 1/2 Stars out of 5. Only worth owning if you are a completest.
” If the records I’m making only sell a certain amount anyways then why should I take so long putting them together?”
That quote from Bob Dylan maybe explains the back to back lackluster albums- #37 Knocked Out Loaded 1986 and the album I featured last week at #38 -Down In The Groove. For some reason Dylan wasn’t trying very hard at this point in his career. Maybe he should have just sat out a few years-and not even recorded anything. He was going through writers block again.
The one song on this album that is the difference between this album and Down In The Groove is- a classic that he wrote with the help of Sam Shepard- “Brownsville Girl” another one of those long Dylan songs which is just fantastic- clocking in at 11:00. The rest of the album is just bad.
Knocked Out Loaded is eight songs long- 3 covers, 3 collaborations with other writers and 2 solo Dylan compositions. The album lacks any direction. It just seems like he was going through the motions to get an album out. I have always been enthusiastic when I hear a new Dylan album is coming out- but after the back to back turkey’s- Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove I was starting to wonder. So was Bob.
It’s not like this album didn’t have some star power. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ronnie Wood, T-Bone Burnett, Dave Stewart, session superstar Al Kooper, Jim Keltner- who seemed to play drums on every album made in this era- were all on the album.
I won’t even try a Mount Rushmore for Knocked Out Loaded. Again “Brownsville Girl” is a gem- the cover of “You Wanna Ramble” and the song written with Tom Petty “Got My Mind Make Up”- are passable- the rest no.