St. Pauli Stadion
Hamburg, West Germany
31 May 1984
- Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
- Mick Taylor (guitar)
- Ian McLagan (keyboards)
- Greg Sutton (bass)
- Colin Allen (drums)
“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.
Continue reading May 30: Bob Dylan released Down In The Groove in 1988
“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”
When did you leave heaven ?
How could they let you go ?
How’s every thing in heaven ?
I’d like to know.
Today it’s “Down In the Groove”s birthday. Here is a live version of one it’s songs.
When Did You Leave Heaven? was written by Walter Bullock & Richard Whiting.
What possessed Dylan to record something as banal as ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’ is
one of life’s little mysteries. I am not sure if this is the same angel that was flying too close
to the ground in 1983, or if another one had gone AWOL from paradise. At any rate, I wish
she had not flown in Dylan’s direction. As with much of the material released on “Down
In The Groove” Dylan’s choice of ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’ smacks of a man
desperate for a direction home.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence)