Friday, January 20, 2012

"The Top Ten Project, Part 6: Dylan In The 80s" : THE WEEKEND MIX


(Did anyone know that the CD above existed? I sure didn't. You can check out what Sony thinks HERE.)

Here's some of what you had to say:

•This is not fair! Dylan might have had some clunkers for albums, but there were a lot of songs that were absolute gems. For instance: Union Sundown - Infidels, talking about a scenario thirty years ago that is front page news today.  The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar - Shot of Love, could have been an outtake from Blonde on Blonde. Trust Yourself - Empire Burlesque - a constant theme of his - "I'm not a leader of a generation or a messiah, do it yourself.

•Everything is Broken from Oh Mercy. Or maybe the entire album...

•Hey Sal, make mine "Foot of Pride". To me, this outtake's exclusion from Infidels is even more baffling than that of "Blind Willie McTell". I can hear what Dylan means about never having quite gotten the killer take of "Willie", but the track of "Foot of Pride" is smoldering, swaggering, every bit the equal of the lyrics' jeremiad. And that lyric is as broad and scathing an indictment of modern society as "It's Alright, Ma" was in its day. Ain't no goin' back.

•This is unfair! So, I'm lodging a protest choice. I'll give you two...uh, three, picks, and leave the choosing up to you. My number-one pick would be "Jokerman" (the outtake) or "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar." Choice number 2, er 3, would be "Every Grain of Sand" (the Biograph version.) Sorry, I'm just too indecisive today. But if I absolutely had to pick one, I think I'd go with "Jokerman."

•Sorry Sal, not a fan of 80's Dylan so I really can't think of one. Not being closed minded, I've heard them all, but I just sort of like the 60's early 70's stuff. Maybe I should re-visit. I don't know.

•Most Of The Time from Oh Mercy, probably the only consistently good album of the decade (from Zimmy, that is). I was going to pick Sweetheart Like You, but the 80's drum sound is too hokey.

•Congratulations from Wilburys I....does that count?....I wish I could be part of this discussion but I honestly know so little of Dylan's '80's output...maybe a top ten here will point me towards itunes and possibly also in the right the way, I'm serious about Congratulations...lovely lovely song and I'm thinking he had little to no help from the others writing it..

My two cents:

I think "Infidels" and "Oh Mercy" rival anything Dylan has released in his career. I also find it interesting that "Empire Burlesque" gets a higher AMG rating than either of them, while "Shot Of Love" gets a weak two-star rating when it includes 4 songs that got voted for more than once.

I was going to post my Top Ten, but it is exactly the same as what you voted for, except for one difference. "Pressing On" made the cut, while I would have chosen "Heart Of Mine."

Here it is, your ten favorite Dylan songs of the 1980s, in ascending order:

Sweetheart Like You
Man In The Long Black Coat
Ring Them Bells
Pressing On
I And I
The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar
Every Grain Of Sand
Blind Willie McTell
Most Of The Time

"Blind Willie McTell" and "Most Of The Time" ran away with this. Even those who voted for other songs, had disclaimers like, "I'm gonna go with 'Political World,' but 'Blind Willie McTell' is by far the best."

Right about now is where you would grab the zip of the "Weekend Mix," but I must say, I wasn't comfortable with this, seeing as how there is an official disc of virtually the same thing. So, have some patience and tomorrow there will be a special Dylan "Weekend Mix." It's just not ready.

Thanks for playing!


wardo said...

I agree with (read: enjoy) every one of those selections. My vote was mine because the rules were we could only pick one, and thinking about it would've made it impossible.

The PopCulturist said...

Interesting results: mostly ballads, essentially, save one rocker - but not exactly an uptempo one ("Groom's Still Waiting"), the mid-tempo, but still plenty subdued I and I, and also mid-tempo and slightly more strident Jokerman. I guess what stood out most for many in Bob's '80s output was the moodier stuff, though several songs in the comments you quoted were more upbeat ones ("Union Sundown", "Political World", "Everything is Broken", your "Heart of Mine", and my choice, slow-burn rocker "Foot of Pride").

You know, an interesting compilation would be alternate versions of the songs on the list - the uptempo, full-band outtake of McTell, earlier take of Groom's ("If you see her on Fanning Street/Tell her I still think she's neat"), the "video version" of "Most of the Time".... Since I don't think that's what you have planned, maybe I'll work that one up to post on my blog, and link it here if you'll allow! Thanks for bringing up the topic of this undervalued period of Dylan's work. I agree with you on Infidels and Oh Mercy's stature, but I'm also really quite fond of both those albums' more complicated follow-ups, Empire Burlesque and Under the Red Sky - the latter of which was one of only two (!) studio albums of new material released by Dylan in the following decade. Considering how bad a reputation UTRS has, I'm guessing a '90s top ten would read mostly like a truncated version of Time out of Mind's tracklist - though Red Sky's title track and "Born in Time" are definitely worthy of inclusion. There are a few real gems on the second Wilburys album, too, with Bob's fingerprints all over 'em.

Sal Nunziato said...

@ Pop Cult--

Mind? Not at all. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

One really great song that Dylan put out in 1986 was "Band of the Hand". The Heartbreakers backed him up on this soundtrack recording. It's a good rocking tune!!!

The PopCulturist said...

YES!! Forgot about "Band of the Hand" - kind of a sister screed to "Foot of Pride"!

steves said...

I agree that the best of Dylan's output in the 80s veered toward the solemn, moodier material. I tend to view this as his "cranky era," where the once strong streak of humor in his writing was painfully absent and replaced by sermons and stern warnings (the notable exception, of course, were the songs he did with the Wilburys). I blame his preoccupation with religion, which was going full tilt in those years, and in the back-and-forth pulls of Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

Personally, I think the 1970s were a more creative period for him, but we probably would have wound up with a much less diverse list.

jaytingle said...

I like "Silvio" the way he played it in the nineties. Sentiment-wise the song belongs with the other rightwing material on Infidels.