Ranking All 39 Bob Dylan Studio Albums #10: Desire [1976} Bob Dylan’s 17th studio album. Released on January 4, 1976. 5 stars.
The countdown so far 39- Dylan -1973 38- Down In The Groove -1988 37-Knocked Out Loaded- 1986 36-Christmas In The Heart- 2009 35-Under A Red Sky- 1990 34-Saved- 1980 33-Fallen Angels 2016 32- Good As I Been To You- 1992 31- World Gone Wrong 1993 30- Triplicate 2017. 29- Shadows In The Night. 2015 28- Self Portrait 1970- 27- Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan 1962, 26- Empire Burlesque 1985, 25- Street Legal 1978, 24- Nashville Skyline 1969 23- Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid 1973- 22- Shot Of Love 1981 21. New Morning- 1970 20. Rough And Rowdy Ways -2020, #19- Tempest 2012 18. Together Through Life 2009 #17- Another Side Of Bob Dylan 1964 #16 -Infidels 1983 #15- Planet Waves 1974, #14- The Basement Tapes 1975 #13- “Modern Times 2006 #12 Oh Mercy 1989, #11 Slow Train Coming.#10- Desire.
Finally we have reached the Top 10 Bob Dylan albums- according to Hans Postcard. In looking over what will be the Bob Dylan Top 10- only two albums fall into the years 1968-1996- and Desire is one of them- coming in at #10. Desire was the follow up to the other album that falls into this period- 1975’s Blood On The Tracks.
I was I admit a little late to getting into rock music. I know I had heard of Dylan but he first entered my radar early in my sophomore year of high school. We had an English assignment- which involved getting in from of the class and giving a speech- you had to bring something in and talk about it for a few minutes. I think I brought in a copy of Roger Kahn’s book on the early 1950’s Brooklyn Dodgers- The Boys Of Summer and spoke about the book. But the one I really recall is- this boy who brought it the latest Dylan album- Desire- the album cover caught my eye at first, then after he got done talking the teacher put on the song that the boy had talked of the opening track “Hurricane.” I loved that song. I’d like to say I immediately ran out and bought the album- but I didn’t. Not long after that my friend Heinrich introduced me to The Beatles and by the next spring after I had gobbled up all The Beatles albums- and some of their solo albums I started buying Dylan- [after reading about The Beatles love for Dylan- if they were fans he had to be great]- and one of the first Dylan albums I bought was Desire.
Dylan was at his height in popularity at the time of Desire. Coming off Blood On The Tracks and a tour in 1975 he was riding high-and the follow up album Desire went to #1 in the U.S. his last #1 album for 30 years until Modern Times in 2006. The single “Hurricane” about the imprisoned boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter made the Top 40. Bob’s voice never sounded better than during this period. In an interesting move on this album- Bob shared the songwriting credits on seven of the nine songs with Jacques Levy -a songwriter, theater director and clinical psychologist. His band for the album were many of the musicians who had toured with him on the recently concluded Rolling Thunder Revue Tour. To me eight of the nine songs are winners- the only loser being ‘Joey” where Bob spends 11 minutes glorifying mobster Joey Gallo. Worth noting is the work on the album of Scarlett Rivera on violin. She helps give this album a musical touch that gives this Bob album a different feel. My two favorite songs on this album are the opener ‘Hurricane’ and the closer ‘Sara’ which he wrote for his estranged and soon to be divorced with Sara. This is one of the two Bob only written songs on the album. If I had to pick two more songs to round out the Mount Rushmore- I will go with “Mozambique’ and ‘Black Diamond Bay.’