Knocked Out Loaded by Bob Dylan

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Knocked Out Loaded by Bob Dylan
Knocked Out Loaded by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1986

Knocked Out Loaded ::: Artwork

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1.You Wanna Ramble3:14
2.They Killed Him4:00
3.Driftin' Too Far From Shore3:39
4.Precious Memories3:13
5.Maybe Someday3:17
6.Brownsville Girl11:00
7.I've Got My Mind Made Up2:53
8.Under Your Spell4:55


Three of these songs are out-takes from the already lacklustre Empire Burlesque, and the remaining five date from various Dylan sessions, giving this album something of a mix and match feel.

So as there seems to be no purpose to Dylan releasing Knocked Out, Loaded, other than to tie-in with whatever tour he was doing at the time, I'll focus on the positive first ...

"I've Got My Mind Made Up" has a fantastic rocking sound mixed with Gospel and blues, the guitar is most impressive. And the opening "You Wanna Ramble" is similar, yet was surely taken from an entirely different recording session, as it has very different sonics in the mix / production.

"Under Your Spell" is a nice soft ballad. The 10-minute "Brownsville Girl" is easily the most ambitious song, though it struggles to hold this listener's attention - Dylan's vocal sounds pinched and thin, so the song isn't especially epic - whilst the lyric is consistently fascinating, the performance less so.

"Maybe Someday" is very lacking indeed. And that's the problem with the album as a whole - Dylan simply didn't have enough quality material to hand (and there's covers here too). "You Killed Him" bores me - a story without a story, a song without a tune, art without inspiration.

The songs here span at least three different recording sessions, and none of them seem intended as tracks for an album, more like warm-up session exercises to try and inspire the Dylan muse.

Gospel vocals pop up on a number of tunes, and they seem to be the only thing Dylan did to try and make this into a cohesive recording. It doesn't work, for whilst the album's mostly recorded well enough, Dylan's vocals lack warmth and passion. The entire album lacks conviction.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

Knocked Out Loaded is Dylan's nadir by far (and that’s really saying something, considering some of the shit he’s foisted on his audience).

If his music was always perversely enjoyable in a sick kinda way, and the Christian albums at least had real musicians and felt like he gave a shit, and Infidels wasn’t really all that awful if you think about it, then Knocked Out Loaded is the album where it becomes clear just how far he'd fallen ... most of it is so bad there’s actually a song I like yet I still end up giving the album 1 star. It’s an embarrassment.

Knocked Out Loaded is so awful it almost has to be heard to be believed ... picture the 80's production-isms that Dylan had been toying with over his last few albums, then multiply them by about 100. And add more female backup singers than on any Dylan album ever, and add songwriting a few steps below even that found on Saved. And pretend it’s not bad Gospel music, but instead horrendous wannabe-slick 80's rock that's so sloppy I can’t believe anyone actually thought it might be a good idea to release it.

Take all that onboard, and you'd be on your way to knowing what this album sounds like, although I'd stand by my claim that the damn thing has to be heard to be believed (not that I’d ever want anyone to hear this - where Dylan's Christian stuff is at least almost funny, this is just pathetic and depressing).

“You Wanna Ramble” is I suppose this album’s idea of boogie/rock, but not only does it neither boogie nor rock in any meaningful way, and not only is it dominated by a computerized snare beat that sounds like the album had no live drummer at all, and not only is the guitar riff sloppy, horribly-played, and poorly-mixed, and not only do the generic female black backup singers sing more than Dylan, and not only does his voice suck more than it has at any time since Saved (and it’s probably worse than on that), but the actual skeleton of the song is an unholy piece of shit ...

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by Reviewer: BRAD