Dylan’s “bad” albums: worth getting?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by beatlesfan9091, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. beatlesfan9091

    beatlesfan9091 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle
    As far as I can tell, I have all of Dylan’s outstanding, great, and good material, and all that remains left (of his studio work) are the albums generally considered the worst of his career.

    Now, I feel like I ought to get those albums because, well...it’s Dylan. How bad can they be?

    So of the following which would you say I ought to get...I imagine eventually every album will find a fan in this thread, but it’ll be good to hear everyone’s thoughts:

    Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    Dylan (1973)
    Saved
    Shot of Love
    Empire Burlesque
    Knocked Out Loaded
    Down in the Groove
    Under the Red Sky
    World Gone Wrong
    Shadows in the Night
    Fallen Angels
     
  2. All of them. But if you want the best of the bunch you listed, start with Shot of Love, World Gone Wrong, and Shadows In The Night. The rest are niche or have one or two great tracks.
     
  3. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.
    World Gone Wrong does not belong with the rest of those choices.
     
  4. Mother

    Mother Forum Resident

    Location:
    Melbourne
    Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    Yes. Has Knocking on Heavens Door. Plus some good numbers here.

    Dylan (1973)
    Yes. Great album cover, his best. Outtakes incredibly throwaway, at worst interesting. If you like Self Portrait you'll probably dig this.

    Saved
    No. Give this a wide berth. God bothering gospel music in a whiny voice. Unpleasant.

    Shot of Love
    Yes. Better rocking album, some solid tracks here. Title track rules.

    Empire Burlesque
    Yes. Bob does the early 80s well. Essential.

    Knocked Out Loaded
    No. Mostly Unlistenable. One good track only.

    Down in the Groove
    Yes. Underrated. Some fun covers and Death is not the end. Not as bad as they say.

    Under the Red Sky
    Yes. Guests galore, nice songwriting. His best since Empire.

    World Gone Wrong
    Yes. Absolutely essential. So too Good As I Been To You.

    Shadows in the Night
    No. Craggy covers only go so far with me.

    Fallen Angels
    No. See above.
     
  5. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    I'm guessing you've never seen him live. He can be terrible if his heart isn't into it.

    Let's be honest, Bob doesn't have the greatest voice. When he has great songs and wants to, he can pull off a great album. The best album on your list is probably Empire Burlesque. I guess you have Triplicate, since it's not on your list. If you like it, the other American Songbook albums are as good. His heart is completely into it. No, he's not Sinatra. But he can sing these songs.
     
  6. I’d agree with most of the sentiments here. I’d particularly chase down Pat Garrett, Shot of Love, and Empire Burlesque. I was quite excited for Shadows in the Night. That excitement wore off quickly. Suffice to say, ten sides of Sinatra covers are enough. I’m hoping that’s not the capper to his history-making career.
     
  7. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Shot of Love isn't a bad album, in fact, it's one of my all-time favorite albums, and it contains probably the best song he ever wrote in "Every Grain of Sand." I return to that album more than I return to Blood on the Tracks or Desire or Street Legal or Modern Times or Together Through Live of New Morning or Nashville Skyline or Bob Dylan or The Times They Are a Changing or Another Side of Bob Dylan or Time Out of Mind or a lot of Dylan albums. I'm not sure this album is generally considered to be among the worst of his career. It certainly never had a worse reputation that a lot of albums that have come to be more celebrated in revision -- like New Morning or Self Portrait (which I think really are not very good albums).

    Shot of Love is also unique among Dylan's Christian albums in not being dominated by sinner's in the hands of an angry God sort of railing against a sinful world, but more being about the personal struggle to hold on to one's faith, and having two of the rare moments in the Dylan religious catalog where faith is a source of inner peace -- "In the Summertime" and "Every Grain of Sand."

    Another two albums that, according to critical consensus are considered to me among Dylan's better albums on your list are the two latter career albums of folk tunes -- Good As I Been to You and World Gone Wrong. They are "important" albums is that they were pivot points, returns to the well for Dylan after which he seemed to ricochet into a new, productive part of his career. They're certainly worth hearing. There were acclaimed albums in their day. Personally I don't listen to them much.

    Shadows of the Night also is not a bad album either, nor was it badly received. There aren't too many revelations here -- a great version of "Lucky Old Sun," which I always thought of as a kind of "Old Man River"/tin pan alley "folk song" knock off that was kind of drecky and over the top but Dylan redeems it; and a version of the moderately obscure "Stay with Me," that Dylan transforms into a sort of Dylan song a la "Ring Them Bells." Really good intimate, on the floor in the studio sound. I think that's an album worth having.

    The other ones on the list, for the most part to me, are albums that all have truly great moments, but are otherwise not great albums. In particular I wouldn't want to be without "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Solid Rock," "Pressing On," or, especially, "Brownsville Girl," all top tier Dylan numbers, especially the latter.

    I know Empire Burlesque has its fans on this forum. That surprises me. I think it's kind of second rate cobbled together album for the most part. However there are gems, like "Dark Eyes" or would be gems, in "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky," a truly great, classic Dylan song buried in a hideous '80s dance rock arrangement. I find the arrangement unlistenable all these years later. But the song is great. Thank goodness Dylan released the version with the guys from the E Street Band.

    Saved too has it's fans. I'm generally a fan of the Dylan Christian period, but I struggle with that one outside of those two songs I mentioned, which are awesome. I think the two groups of people who seem to like it are the believers and the people who like the slick, tight Jerry Wexler-produced sound.
     
  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    Saved
    Shot Of Love
    Empire Burlesque

    I don't see those as bad albums.
    The others hold little interest to me.
     
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  9. arthurprecarious

    arthurprecarious Forum Resident

    Location:
    North East England
    The first five all have value but the rest less so. The odd track here and there but not great
     
  10. JumpinJimF

    JumpinJimF Got mashed potatoes. Ain’t got no T-bone.

    Location:
    The Untied Kindom
    I'm in a similar situation to you. Most of these still on my "possibles" list. I'll buy them all eventually inevitably.

    Pat Garrett is very good. Apart from Heaven's Door of course the instrumentals are very atmospheric. Sounds great even on a tatty s/h vinyl copy I bought, de-clicked and listen to as FLAC.

    I got Under The Red Sky and World Gone Wrong recently on CD and haven't played them enough to form an opinion other than don't hate them.
     
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  11. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    CT
    You need some Wiggle Wiggle in your life:
     
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  12. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    Dylan (1973)
    Saved
    Shot of Love
    Empire Burlesque
    Knocked Out Loaded
    Down in the Groove
    Under the Red Sky
    World Gone Wrong

    Shadows in the Night
    Fallen Angels

    The ones in bold are critical to any Dylan collection and all have value

    Saved is a top 5 Dylan to me. Shot of Love is my least favourite Dylan album but others swear by it. Under The Red Sky and Down In The Groove are perfect examples of where Dylan was in that period and fits into the collaborations he was doing (Wilburys, Dead etc) perfectly with some great material on both. Dylan makes each song his own on the World Gone Wrong album - he had re-found his voice and was touching base with his roots.

    Could I live without Dark Eyes, Got My Mind Made Up or Lilly Of The West in my Dylan collection - absolutely not and make the albums that contain them as critical.

    The last two I hope I never have to listen to ever again (my copies are safely in a box in a cupboard)
     
  13. Orson Swells

    Orson Swells Forum Resident

    Location:
    Manchester
    For me, World Gone Wrong and Shadows in the Night are great! And if you like Self Portrait then I don't see why you wouldn't like Dylan (1973). Obviously Pat Garrett is worth it for Heaven's Door and Billy.

    Saved and Shot of Love are decent albums and have some genuinely good songs on them - though I can see they won't be for everyone. Fallen Angels is a slightly lesser Shadows. So it'll depend on how much you like this current incarnation of Bob...

    I hate the 80s production on Empire Burlesque, but if you can hear through it then it's enjoyable enough. Similarly Under the Red Sky suffers production-wise, the songs aren't as good as Empire - and Born In Time is totally ruined - but I do really like Cat's In The Well!

    Knocked Out Loaded is very weak, but does have Brownsville Girl. I do find Down in the Groove a tough listen though...
     
  14. keithdylan

    keithdylan Master of His Own Domain

    If Shadows In The Night was a one off it would be considered a great diversion, the problem is you have 4 more albums of that material. Shadows and Fallen could have been 1 record, and would have been fine too. Got a soft spot in my heart for Empire Burlesque after listening to it all night after I first took Ecstasy. Saved is a good record. Nothing wrong with World Gone Wrong. Also Shot of Love with the added Groom's Still Waiting is elevated above bad, not sure it was ever really "bad". Pretty sure an album with Every Grain of Sand can't be bad. None of these albums, save for Knocked Out and Down In The Groove, and Dylan are bad, but even Knocked out had Brownsville Girl, which time wise is 25% of the album and it's great, and Dylan he never wanted released. I would use the terms disappointing or lesser.
     
  15. OobuJoobu

    OobuJoobu Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    Dylan (1973) is worth having for me just for Lily Of the West.

    I have no idea what anyone else thinks of the song, never discussed it with anyone, so I don't know if it's a generally liked or disliked song, but I love it!
     
  16. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    Me Too!! (see above)
     
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  17. Lemon Curry

    Lemon Curry (A) Face In The Crowd

    Location:
    Mahwah, NJ
    World Gone Wrong is one of Dylan's BEST albums! It might even be the one I play the most. You need the lyric sheet, though.

    Shot Of Love is one I've recently explored, having previously overlooked it. It's rock solid - a good album.

    I also like Shadows a lot. I feel if he stopped there with the American songbook concept, it would be more appreciated.

    The others are all weaker, imho, but each has some decent moments. Ok, maybe not Knocked Out Loaded ;-)
     
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  18. YardByrd

    YardByrd rock n roll citizen in a hip hop world

    Location:
    Europe
    Agreed! It's a great record, heralding a return from the wilderness.
     
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  19. TerpStation

    TerpStation "Music's not for everyone."

    Location:
    washington, dc
    If you are not put off by the heavy handed religious lyrics, SAVED is actually a great record. In terms of gospel music, the songs are fantastic and have been covered by gospel stars. So, if you appreciate gospel music, Saved is great.
     
  20. Thomas Casagranda

    Thomas Casagranda Forum Resident

    I think the Saved / Shot of Love material is better served on the Bootleg Series Vol 13, Trouble No More, set. That said, Saved has some great tracks, i.e Pressing On, In The Garden, Saving Grace.

    Shot of Love is an attempt to mix the secular with the sacred, and some of the outtakes from that era would've turned the album into a great album, i.e Yonder Comes Sin, Angelina. I think it does have some great tracks though, i.e Every Grain of Sand, Shot of Love title track, In The Summertime, Groom's Still Waiting, and I still have a liking for Dead Man, Dead Man, and Heart of Mine.

    Empire Burlesque has Tight Connection To My Heart, When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky, and Something's Burning, Baby. Again, Dylan could've released the E Street Band version of When The Night, and it would've improved the album somewhat. Throw in the still unreleased New Danville Girl, and it would've been another great album. Again, it only highlights a missing quality control from Dylan.

    Knocked Out Loaded and Down In The Groove are the ones of ever diminishing returns: Brownsville Girl is great, but it could've benefitted from removing the 80s drums, and the wailing backing vocals from the Queens of Rhythm. Down In The Groove has two great covers, i.e Ninety Miles An Hour, and Rank Strangers, but is way too much a mishmash, as if Bob had some confusion as to what he wanted from an album.

    Now, Under The Red Sky is, quite possibly, the most underrated Dylan album ever. It has a sound of its own, and the songwriting is far superior to Knocked Out Loaded, and Down In The Groove. It's sound doesn't reek of current, as Empire Burlesque does, and Unbelievable, Handy Dandy, title track, God Knows, Born In Time, Cat's In The Well, Two By Two, 10,000 Men are all great tracks. I think people were put off by a poor opener, i.e Wiggle Wiggle, but it's Bob's hidden gem of an album.

    Shadows In The Night is totally different, and like Pat Garrett, World Gone Wrong, should never be considered as a weak album. It's a great covers album, as is Fallen Angels, and, in the hands of someone like Willie Nelson, would've been justifiably lauded.
     
  21. abzach

    abzach Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    How are they "bad"???

    Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (one of his absolute finest albums)
    Dylan (1973) (wonderful album, perhaps the most underrated album of all times)
    Saved (one of his absolute best 80's albums)
    Shot of Love (one of his best altogether)
    Under the Red Sky (great album, highly underrated)

    To me, they're all better then everything he did before John Wesley Harding and definitely worth getting!
     
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  22. abzach

    abzach Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    One of several wonderful songs on this underrated gem and one of his finest moments in his career.
     
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  23. Crimson jon

    Crimson jon Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston
    Mostly no...

    There is so much great music new and old I'm sure you don't have yet so unless you are a completionist just stream an artists "weak" albums and own the good to great ones. I kept buying stones albums after their peak when I was really into them and regret it as I never hear them.
     
  24. Gaslight

    Gaslight ⎧⚍⎫⚑

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    I don't buy an album because "It's Dylan" (or any other major artist). I buy it because I like it else it just sits on the shelf.

    If they are available to stream, then just sample them first and you'll know in advance if it's something you'd want to own.
     
  25. Kevin Davis

    Kevin Davis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Illinois
    I think they're all worth getting if you've made it this far; there are at least a few major pleasures on all of them (except maybe "Down in the Groove"), and most of them can be found for dirt cheap if you buy CD.

    Personally I rate "Saved," "World Gone Wrong," and "Shadows in the Night" very highly.
     

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