Dylan’s latest lacks focus
Review by Steven Wine
Park City Daily News — September 14, 1986
“Knocked Out Loaded” (Columbia) — Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is still rock’s most enigmatic performer. His concerts with Tom Petty during the summer’s most publicized tour sparked speculation that the voice of the ’60s had been born again musically.
But as the tour wound down, Dylan released the kind of album one expects from a relic. “Knocked Out Loaded” has no focus, musically or thematically, and the performances are sloppy.
The biggest disappointment is that Petty and his band, who in recent months have spent a lot of time in the studio with Dylan, play on only one cut. It’s a routine rocker called “Got My Mind Made Up.” The musicians who back Dylan elsewhere sound as if they’re playing together for the first time. The instrumental breaks are as engaging as white noise.
One redeeming feature is “Brownsville Girl,” 11 minutes of soaring horns, allusions to Gregory Peck and characters only Dylan could create. The song sounds like Dylan’s great “Desire” album, but he seems to have the rest of “Knocked Out Loaded” in mind when he wistfully sings, “If there’s an original thought out there, I could use it right now.”