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Down in the Groove

3.4 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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  • Bob Dylan: "At last I was here, in New York City... I was there to find singers, the ones I'd heard on record--Dave Van Ronk, Peggy Seeger, Ed McCurdy, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Josh White, the New Lost City Ramblers, Reverend Gary Davis... most of all to find Woody Guthrie." Read more musical excerpts from Chronicles, Vol. 1 on our Music You Should Hear page.

Editorial Reviews

Bob Dylan Down In The Groove US CD album

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Let's Stick Together
  2. When Did You Leave Heaven?
  3. Sally Sue Brown
  4. Death Is Not The End
  5. Had A Dream About You, Baby
  6. Ugliest Girl In The World
  7. Silvio
  8. Ninety Miles An Hour (Down A Dead End Street)
  9. Shenandoah
  10. Rank Strangers To Me

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: May 31, 1988
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000026DE
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,891 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2002
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
I never gave two hoots for Bob Dylan. Not two hoots! Then I moved into a new home, and, by golly, the previous occupant (could it have been God?) left behind several items from his record collection. And I do mean "record" collection. These were good old-fashioned American made vinyl LPs, not them fancy, schmancy little made in Japan or China or anywhere but the U.S. Christmas tree ornaments known as compact discs. The other records were by Lawrence Welk (whose rendition of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" was the only version of a Dylan song I found tolerable) and the Lennon Sisters. I love 'em both, but because I love 'em, I already had those records. So, with my own record collection still packed away in boxes, but with a real need to hear some music, I slapped Bob Dylan's "Down in the Groove" on the stereo, expecting to be bored or possibly irritated out of my mind. Well, what can I say? One fine song followed another, building to an orgy of musical satisfaction that left me wondering where in God's heck I had been! Did I really live 62 years without "Silvio" rocking in my ears day and night? Did I really choose alcohol, and lots of it, to ease the burden of my loneliness rather than listen to Dylan mournfully moan through the bleak aural landscape of "Rank Strangers to Me"? Had my life truly been an empty shell all these years?
Listening to "Down in the Groove" was a revelation, an epiphany! For the first time in my life, my ears were rocked clean of all their deafening wax, and my eyes, blind for so long, were suddenly freed from their scales and I could see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles, oh yeah! (I have since discovered The Who, as well).
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Format: Audio CD
By the late 1980s, the once sacrosanct Bob Dylan had reached the lowest point of his career. During the mid 1960s, he was untouchable, a critical darling, and on a creative roll that has not been seen since. Things had changed drastically in twenty years. 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 80s material is unjustly crucified, in other respects the critical assault was totally accurate about how bad he really got during that decade.

DOWN IN THE GROOVE is one of the prime examples of how badly Dylan's art had decayed. DOWN bears the dubious distinction as being the worst studio album in Dylan's catalogue. While Columbia's revenge album DYLAN from 1973 is arguably worst, at least Dylan didn't sanction that release. This album, however, is truly the bottom of the barrel. Dylan lost all artistic direction during this era of his career.

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. Critics and fans overall found EB, his album from 1985, guilty of glitzy production and bad, dated arrangements, a consensus that has only grown stronger in the ensuing (though for my money, EB is as good as anything he's recorded post 1975). Critics panned his 1986 album, KNOCKED OUT LOADED, which barely dented the charts . In 1987, he started in a movie that was so bad it was never released stateside ("Hearts of Fire"), though the soundtrack had some decent songs. That same year, he did a notoriously bad tour with the Grateful Dead. Then in 1988, he released this dismal album. Things were looking pretty bleak for the Dylan faithful.
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