- Audio CD (June 1 2004)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording remastered
- Label: Sony Music Canada
- ASIN: B00026WU3M
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,754 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Mercy Original recording remastered
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Daniel Lanois brought as much imagination to the production on this 1989 LP as Dylan did to the images and poems within these striking songs. Lots of gems to be discovered here: Everything Is Broken; Ring Them Bells; Disease of Conceit; Shooting Star; Most of the Time; Political World , and more!
The '80s was a particularly shifting, uncertain decade for Bob Dylan's creative voice. But he capped it off with his first album of all-original material in several years and his best since Infidels. A lot of the credit for Oh Mercy's distinctive appeal has been given to producer-musician Daniel Lanois (who backs Dylan on all but one cut), and there's no denying the effect of his magnetic, fog-thick sound sculpturing here. Overlays of lap steel, dobro, and mercy keys along with a slithering subterranean bass evoke a complete sonic climate, and the synergy between Lanois and Dylan would have a huge payoff with 1997's devastating Time Out of Mind. But however tightly produced, Oh Mercy also displays Dylan at the peak of his songwriting craft, fracturing words and phrases for the things-fall-apart jeremiads of "Political World" and "Everything Is Broken" and stringing images together for the noirish ballad "Man in the Long Black Coat." There's the usual dichotomy between Dylan's slashing accusatory mode ("What Was It You Wanted") and the self-effacement of "What Good Am I?" Aside from the miscalculated, sappy "Where Teardrops Fall" (the disc's sore thumb), this album has the classic staying power of Dylan's finest efforts. --Thomas May --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The producer in question is Daniel Lanosis, a former Brian Eno protégé acclaimed for his work on albums such as Robbie Robertson's self-entitled solo debut, Peter Gabriel's commercial break-through, So and U2's masterpiece, The Joshua Tree. On Oh Mercy, Lanosis shows the uncanny ability to induce atmospheres that are both organic and encompassing. He places Mason Ruffner's bluesy guitar, Dylan's croaky vocals and twinkling piano and his own lap steel in exactly the right place at exactly the right caliber, ensuring that Oh Mercy does not lack a single second that is not sonically satisfying and does not include one that is overindulgent or overwhelming.
The songs in question include "Man in the Long Black Coat," one of Dylan's darkest and best cinematic songs; "Political World," an excellent tirade against the high stakes and limitless upheaval of the modern world; "Ring Them Bells," a beautifully subtle song treated well with an almost hymn-like ambience; and "Most of the Time," a song of loss that is as compellingly anguished and emotive as any on Blood on the Tracks. Although he still occasionally tumbles ("Disease of Conceit," features the most irritating metaphor-abuse of his career), Dylan produces some of his strongest writing in years. It came through at a very opportune time. Oh Mercy is the album Dylan's fans waited the entire eighties for, the album where everything came together.
The slower songs also feature some incredible new Dylan music. Shooting Star is probably the best known of these, since it was included on Dylan's monumental MTV Unplugged album a few years later. Ring Them Bells is a dirgelike, mournful classic, Most of the Time is a great song about continuing to live one's life after losing someone special, and Where Teardrops Fall is, in my opinion, a beautiful song that shines among the great tracks included here. I do believe the album weakens as it nears the end, though. What Good Am I? and What Was It You Wanted? are good but unexceptional songs, and the important theme of Disease of Conceit is easily lost amid the sounds of the album's least enjoyable music track. However, the greatness that is Shooting Star ensures a satisfying conclusion to one of Dylan's best albums of the last two decades.
From the opening track, "Political World," you know Dylan has gotten back down to some serious business after the aimlessness of "Knocked Out Loaded" and "Down in the Groove." He charges ahead with the even stronger "Everything Is Broken" and keeps the momentum going right through to the closing ballad, the beautiful "Shooting Star," a heartbreaker whose lyrics make you wonder whom he is addressing (his late father, perhaps?)
Other highlights include "Most of the Time," a winning ballad about love lost, and the epic "Man in the Long Black Coat."
"Oh Mercy" represented a comeback of sorts. It reached number 30 on the Billboard album chart (Dylan's highest showing in six years), and earned a lot of critical praise. Unfortunately, it didn't have quite the impact it deserved, and it would be another eight years (!) before "Time Out of Mind" reawakened the world to the news that Dylan was still a force to be reckoned with. Those of us who heard this album weren't so surprised.
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