4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Down in the Groove: Bob Dylan - Dylan still travelling down a dead end street,
This review is from: Down in the Groove (Audio CD)
This 1988 album, the twenty-fifth studio release from icon Bob Dylan, is the third in a trilogy of what I have always regarded as the worst albums of his career. The preceding `Empire Burlesque' and `Knocked out Loaded' were uninspiring enough, but this finds Dylan at his worst. Dylan was great when he had something to say, but here he has nothing to say, nothing to react against. He is totally uninspired, something that is illustrated by the inclusion of so many covers on the album. Obviously he was not inspired enough to write many songs for the album. And even worse, in his singing and the production Dylan sounds totally disinterested. On his debut album and even on `Self Portrait', he showed that he could make masterful reinterpretations of other people's songs, twisting them to suit his limitations and producing something new and interesting, but here he sounds bored and seems to be just going through the motions. The production doesn't help, for the first time Dylan's voice sounds ragged and croaky - it would be used to good effect on later albums but here the producer doesn't know what to do with it and in places it sounds painful. Especially on his version of the Hank Snow classic `Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street)', which has potential to be the best song on the album, but Dylan's croakings make it a torture to listen to. Contrast this with the following year's masterpiece, `Oh Mercy', in which not only does Dylan find his writing muse but Danny Lanois manages to use the croak to great and moving effect. In the shadow of its mighty successor, `Down In The Groove' fails to shine, and indeed the contrast only highlights it's many shortcomings.
Most of Dylan's poor albums fail because they are uninteresting rather than actually being bad. But I have to say that, along with Empire Burlesque', this is one of the few actually bad albums in Dylan' canon. One to avoid, one star only.