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Down in the Groove

2.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 10 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SBME
  • Run Time: 32.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B0015XAT3E
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,505 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Down In The Groove

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
For Bob Dylan, culturally many view his highwater mark as the 1960s. As famous as his 1960s output his, the 1980s for Bob is equally famous, but for entirely different reasons. While the 1960s are often treated as sancroscant and untouchable, the 1980s are percisly the opposite, being viewed as Dylan's worst decade, when people were wondering if Bob had any decent music left in him. Much of the 1980s music he cut have been written off, lambasted, and altogether ignored. By the end of the 1980s, before the release of OH MERCY, many people thought he finally gave up the ghost creatively. While in some respects, Dylan's output during this decade is unjustly crucified, in other respects all this critical hostility is not only right on the money, but actually rather nice considering how bad he really got.

[Where does that intro paragraph lead us? ]

With releases like DOWN IN THE GROOVE, it is easy to understand the critical unease and flat out bewilderment that Dylan caused during the late 1980s. GROOVE bears the dubious distinction as being the worst studio album in Dylan's catalogue. While Columbia's revenge album DYLAN from 1973 was pretty bad, at least Dylan didn't sanction that release. This album, however, is truly the bottom of the barrel.

DOWN IN THE GROOVE gives you the impression Dylan was just in the studio jamming, and decided to release an odds-n-sods collection of very subpar studio sessions. DOWN clearly indicates that Dylan lost all artistic direction during this era of his career. Thankfully, he got his act together with OH MERCY

Just for a little context, by 1988 a lot of people had lost faith in Dylan. He hadn't released a decent record in years.
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Format: Audio CD
Down in the Groove is a special album for me because this was the first Dylan CD I ever bought. Certainly, it's not one of his better albums, typifying the Dylan doldrums of the early 1980s, but it does have a few bright spots amid its many faults. A significant problem with this CD is the absence of any type of flow; it sounds like 10 songs thrown together somewhat haphazardly. "Let's Stick Together" is a kicking opening song that gets the juices flowing. It is followed by the slow yet meaningful "When Did You Leave Heaven?" Then we shift back to a faster tune in "Sally Sue Brown," only to slip into the slowest song on the album, the simply poignant "Death is Not the End." Then it's back to a rocking beat with "Had A Dream About You Baby" (with Eric Clapton on guitar) and the conspicuously interesting "Ugliest Girl in the World," a song which I myself actually like. "Silvio" is the only possibly recognizable song on the album and is the only song I remember hearing Dylan perform live in concert soon after this CD's release. "Ninety Miles An Hour (Down a Dead End Street)" is one of the more meaningful songs found here, as is the strangely beautiful dirge "Rank Strangers To Me," but even these tracks are rather forgettable.

The overall weakness of Down in the Groove can be traced to a simple source--most of these songs were not written by Bob Dylan. The backup singers on this album just don't seem to suit Dylan, either, lending a strange R&B sound to several tunes. It is interesting to note that the 80s group Full Force (which few people besides me probably remember) performed the backup vocals on "Death is Not the End." All in all, this is really an uninspired album. Although it was my first Dylan CD, I would not recommend this for Dylan newbies. It's not as bad as the critics make it out to be, but its lack of focus and short length (less than 35 minutes) make it a low priority for those trying to build a Bob Dylan CD collection.
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Format: Audio CD
When putting this album together, Bob Dylan is said to have referred to it as "Self-Portrait II," but this is less a sequel to that delightfully daring mess than a continuation of 1986's "Knocked Out Loaded." Like that listenable grab-bag of an album, "Down in the Groove" mixes covers with a mere handful of Dylan originals, and, in the case of the latter, most are co-written with the Grateful Dead's Robert Hunter.
The closest thing to a classic here is "Silvio" which demonstrates that Dylan (or is it Hunter?) still has a gift for lyrics and can rock out when he feels like it, but "Ugliest Girl in the World" works fervently to counter that claim.
Then there's "Death is Not the End," a dreary march through musical purgatory that didn't make the final cut on "Infidels," proof that Dylan's judgment when making that 1983 album was not as impaired as the exclusion of the superb "Blind Willie McTell" would suggest.
The covers are a mixed bag with some worth a listen ("Let's Stick Together" and especially "Rank Strangers to Me") and the others barely worth the space they take on the disc. After his heartfelt version of "Dixie" in "Masked and Anonymous," it would be nice to hear Dylan's take on "Shenandoah," but that touching traditional is given a rushed reading with different lyrics that prevent it from being memorable.
This may be the least significant disc in Dylan's history and, therefore, of interest only to the completists among us.
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