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Ranking: Every Bob Dylan Album From Worst to Best

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38. Dylan (1973)

Bob Dylan - Dylan

Dylan is a divisive singer and (at best) a mediocre guitarist. So why would he do an album full of covers? Blame the record company. After Dylan ditched Columbia for Asylum in ’73, his erstwhile label pieced together the LP from scraps and outtakes to sully Bob’s name and make a few bucks. Columbia was successful on both fronts: Dylan somehow sold more than 500,000 copies, yet it’s his most universally panned album. –Henry Hauser


37. Knocked Out Loaded (1986)

bob dylan knocked out loaded

Even Dylan’s less successful albums have some sort of audacious vision or greater artistic purpose that seeks to elevate or justify the work. It’s when this vision or purpose fails that an album is received poorly, but at least this intent stands and is worthy of recognition and discussion. The very worst of Dylan’s albums are those simply lacking in purpose. Case in point: Knocked Out Loaded. A collection of covers and songs that didn’t make the cut on other albums, Knocked Out Loaded is disjointed and grating (as Dylan pretends his voice isn’t going to shit). The only redeeming point is the epic “Brownsville Girl”. Co-written by Sam Shepard, it runs over 10 minutes and features Dylan at his narrating best as he unwinds an allegorical tale involving love, Gregory Peck, and a swirl of images and references. The song’s pace is patient as it perpetually builds toward a powerful chorus built upon a transcendent gospel choir arrangement. If only the rest of the album showed such purpose and vision. –Kristofer Lenz


36. Saved (1980)


Non-believers probably find Saved hard to stomach, but the 1980 release trumps any psalm posted on the hymn board at this week’s Sunday service. Dylan doesn’t ply the album – the second in his “Christian trilogy” – with religious allegory. Instead, he calls the shots like a celestial umpire. Jesus is the beginning and the end, and he wants everyone to raise their voices in exaltation right along with him (and his bevy of gospel babes). Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett at the helm, Saved owes a heaping debt to Jesus Christ Superstar’s bombast, especially “Solid Rock”, which spreads the good news through a Johnny Otis hand-jive beat drunk on altar wine. –-Janine Schaults


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