Knocked Out Loaded (1986)

1. You Wanna Ramble 2. They Killed Him 3. Driftin' Too Far From Shore 4. Precious Memories 5. Maybe Someday 6. Brownsville Girl 7. Got My Mind Made Up 8. Under Your Spell


Although you wouldn't be able to tell from the album cover, this album is in many ways identical to the over indulgent eighties flavored previous album by Dylan, Empire Burlesque. It had only been about a year between records, and he assembles many of the same musicians. For an artist that rarely was consistent from album to album, why did he have to start putting this into practice now?

The first few songs lead you down the path to believing that everything is basically the same as the last record. Actually, even by the second song, the disastrous They Killed Him leads you to believe that things might actually get a lot worse - if such a thing is even possible. This could arguably the worst song Dylan ever recorded. It was not, thankfully, written by him (that distinction goes to Kris Kristofferson). The song has nice sentiments - about heroic historical figures who were murdered, but the song is so juvenile and banal, that you would swear it was written by a third grader.

Fortunately, the latter half of the album ranges from "not bad" to "o.k.", including the best song he had done in awhile called Brownsville Girl. This is one of those songs that only Bob Dylan could make sound brilliant. At eleven minutes it's almost a story as opposed to a song. Dylan seems to speak much of the dialogue. It is quite the story though, and most agree it's the highest point on the album. Since the whole album is slightly over thirty-five minutes, you could make the argument that the song, by itself, constitutes 1/3 of the album. If 1/3 of the album is great, well, then the whole album can't really be too bad overall, can it?

Sadly, it can. The last two songs are better than average, including the tune co-written with Tom Petty, I've Got My Mind Made Up. The song has a very obvious Tom Petty flavor, and being that they were in collaboration on the road during this time, it would have been much better had Petty helped out on more of the songwriting. This album actually sold worse than the last record.

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