Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shot of Love (1981)

Shot of Love
(1981, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER


(Mock chicken breast, spinach, roasted garlic, with onion)

My God, doesn't everything about the cover seemed destined to the dollar bin of your now defunct Tower Records? If you were brought to your knees by the sweaty, God-lovin' funk-rock of Slow Train Coming, and you were kind of into the gospel/coma-inducing rock tread of Saved, then has Pastor Zimmy got an album for you! Also, if you answered "yes" to liking Saved, I think it'd be time for a little one on one (divine) intervention. Unfortunately, my time is all booked up with writing strange reviews about archaic Christian rock albums, so you may be on your own with this one.

Okay, I'm being hard on Saved. I kind of dig it! Wait, what's happening? Are these records working? Am I, myself, becoming SAVED?

(Me getting Saved)
 

I think the FUCK not. See what I did there? I sinned. Whoops. But really, while the Religious trilogy is often frowned upon, and continues to confuse fans and followers alike, these really are some fascinating albums. There's some good, mostly bad, but some fascinating moments on Dylan's part... Just like Moses out wandering the desert, what a strange journey! I mean, Dylan almost seemed destined to do this anyway from back in the '60s. Take note of the clues... I mean is it really any coincide Dylan's Self-Portrait LP bears a striking resemblance to the recently retouched Spanish painting of Jesus?







(UNCANNY)


 Without any added nonsense, let's get onto the final "born-again" LP. Following in the Jesus-like sandal prints of the past two albums, Pastor Dylan returns with his 3rd, and final album of his Born Again Christianity phase. Perhaps the devil got into him again after this album, because like everyone knows, you can't keep the devil out.

("Hello, Bob? It's me, The Devil"- the Devil at Bob Dylan's house)


Anyway, Shot of Love continues to find early '80s Dylan in full foot dragging mode, even though he's kind of making things fun in a family-vacation-to-the-backyard kind of way; safe and sometimes Dad gets a little tipsy while playing a game of Cornhole.


("Well this is a FUN record, isn't it kids?"- a dad lovin' Shot of Love)

Here, Dylan seems to get some of the old "poetry" bug under his skin, really scaling back from singing things like "Repent to Jesus, you sinning fuckers," as he did on the last two albums. Sure, it's there, but the listener will find themselves coming out of this with less crucifix shaped bludgeon marks. The LP really picks up steam where Saved managed to arrive nearly DOA in many spots. The production is the best it's been in years, and there's some flat out HOT ROCKIN' moments interspersed with allusions to the Lord, along with straight-up mic drops dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ.


Speaking of the production department, at one point, legendary producer (and now billionaire), Jimmy Iovine was attached to recording the record. However, Dylan and Iovine parted ways, making room for producers Chuck Plotkin and Bumps Blackwell; two legends in their own right, and also guys with much funnier names than Iovine. With all said and done, at the end of the day, Shot of Love is arguably the BEST of the religious trilogy, and it's still pretty blahhhhhh.


(Bob Dylan coming to terms with how boring this Jesus thing is getting)



For the cover, if part of you thinks, "oh cool, did Roy Lichenstein do the cover?," then no, you'd be disappointed too. Simply put, two of the best things about this album is a picture of Bob Dylan smelling the roses on the back cover, and that he had audacity to name a song "Property of Jesus."


(the rejected cover of Dylan's Shot of Love, I think)

On to my dinner... Tonight, my wife once again has treated me to a lovely dinner. Figuring I might need a load off from the strain of typing, she has repeatedly taken the reins with preparing my meals. Thank you LORD! This go round, I have a rather simplistic dish of spinach, roasted garlic and onions. For the added protein, texture boost, we've got some vegan chicken breast chunks in there. This is a rather light, healthy dinner to go with a rather light, healthy-for-the-soul album. Without any further genuflections, let us pray.... And eat!


BUTTTTTTT.... (which is like a really big "butt"),  I'd like to first say, it is my honor to publish THIS edition of Dinner With Dylan on none other than Bob Dylan's BIRTHDAY!!! It was not by choice, but by chance on me wanting to eat and write. It was like a DIVINE INTERVENTION took place. So instead of breaking bread and saying Grace, let us cut the cake and sing.....

Happy Birthday....


Happy Birthday....


Happy Birthday, Robert, Bob, Bobby, Zimmy, Zim, Pastor Zim, Father Zimmy, Zimbot, Zimmerman!


( "keep going"- Bob Dylan")

Happy Birthday, TO YOU!!!!!!


("Hey, 'This Wheel's On Fire', Maaannnnnn"- Bob Dylan mistaking his birthday cake for a song title of his)


So once more, Happy Birthday77th birthday, Bob Dylan. What do you have to say for yourself?


Amen!





Side A:
Shot of Love- Ahh. If you believe in a God, then you must also believe he/she created Gospel Funk and it's alive, well, and baptizing the shit out of you in the land of early '80s Dylan. Despite being the opener to another LP about Jesus, Dylan makes sure this song sounds like one of the grossest sex songs of all-time. Between the sweaty piano grinding, bass plodding, and funky gunky guitar stabs, this thing is like a Hot Miami night full of debauchery. But lyrically, this is a song about needing the love of Jesus. This song is so strange, it's not terrible. It's greasier than any dinner I've ever reviewed on this site, and I need a mind napkin after this one to clean up any potential coagulation.

(This is exactly how the song "Shot of Love" sounds!!!)

Heart of Mine- Dylan opens up with some relaxed soft-strums that sort of build-up into a pretty decent tune with a simple, but nod-worthy hook. The song's loose all around, held upright by the airy, sometimes playful feel. How playful you ask? Well, the ol' comedic drummer boy, known as Ringo Starr plays some drums on this recording. It goes without saying, this song did NOT make or break Ringo's career, but so it goes. Also, Ron Wood of The Faces and The Rolling Stones plays guitar on this! Boy, I wonder how these sessions even went, such giants in the same room together!?

(Ringo at Sunday morning Confession... thanks, Starkey)

In keeping with recent posts, let's finally touch on my dinner for the evening during track 2. Like I said before, this dinner is very light. Spinach, onions, garlic. It's a stink fest for sure, but I like it smelly. The chicken chunks (or lack of chicken) is made by the fine people at Quorn. Quorn specializes in readily available vegan meat selections at most east coast supermarkets. It's a tasty dish, one that's giving my overworked arteries the night off.


Property of Jesus- The whole premise of this song is bunk as hell, and the lyrics are cringeworthy (unless you're like a cool priest), but goddamn is this a nearly GREAT song. The repetitive piano backbone really hooks you in, along with some Dylan vocals delivered with religious fervor that actually pays off. There's some scattered percussion clanging about throughout, and the back-up gospel singers nail it down (crucifixion stylee).  Who would've thought I'd be giving "Property of Jesus" a 5?  I don't know? Maybe Jesus himself, if you believe?

Lenny Bruce- Taking a much needed break from talking about JC for one song, Dylan pays tribute to the late, iconoclastic comedian Lenny Bruce. Part of this makes me wanna spit up my..... but part of it feels somewhat appropriate. Fairly strong tribute balladry, this one walks a fine line between complete unnecessary nostalgic melancholy and a nice throw-back to some '60's style outlaw-ballad songwriting.

(Lenny Bruce flashing some afterlife gratitude)

Hmmm, this Quorn Chicken dish is about polished off. Been taking light stabs at it, as to not ingest it like a prisoner on death row. Looks like it's time for a dish refill! Quorn Round 2!

Watered-Down Love- 3  A catchy enough bouncy little number from Dylan here. But c'mon, at this point in his career, why put the words "Watered-Down" in anything. His career is pooling into a diluted mess and he's fucking with the words "watered-down?" Hey that's ballsy! This one's a mildly catchy bopper, with Dylan giving some tip-of-the-cap throaty Dylan belting on display. The lyrics are more doggrel but so it's been for much of the last 30 something songs I've eaten food too. At any rate, this is truly middle-of-the-road, non offensive pop, and I find myself tapping a fork to the mid-tempo. Dad-pop I can get down with!

The Groom's Still Waiting At the AltarDid you miss the sleazy rock that opened up the LP? Fear not, the '80s are here. Get a leather jacket on, light up a Marlboro Red, and smash a bottle in a bar full of hot neons. This ripper is on FIRE. However, stay away from the flames. It's best to let it burn itself the hell out. Kind of Like God speaking to Moses as a burning bush, but with far less impact on the world.

("Peyote is fucking crazy"- Moses)

Dirty, hi-octane blues. Give Dylan some sort of credit here, I guess. This one sure has some blues-rock backbone, but it's suffering from debilitating scoliosis.

(It is said this song inspired the '98 Dylan biopic "The Wedding Singer" starring Christine Taylor and John Lovitz)


SIDE B:
Dead Man, Dead Man- 1 Alright, the dinner is done. And let me tell you... It was almost too healthy! I might need to make myself some french fries or polish it off with some French Vanilla Ice Cream to get by body back on the Transfat Train. Will keep you posted...

Here, in what Dylan considered an autobiographical look at himself, we find Preacher Zimm doing what he does best around the year 1981. If you guessed stale reggae-funk, you'd have just won a poster that says "Legalize It" along with a set of rosary beads. As far as songs, go, this one's exceptionally painful. Dylan closes the song with the lines "Who can't stand it?/I can't stand it." Preacher Zimmy, you speak for us all!

In the Summertime- Dylan gets away from morphing horrid styles of music into each other and gets back to the safe boring stuff we can all kick our fit up to on a Sunday morning. After that one-two punch from the previous bottom-of-the-Jordan tracks, one can only consider leaving the congregation altogether. Far from memorable, "In the Summertime," is mid-tempo, breezy folk-poper in a hammock made of schmaltz. Features one of the worst fade-outs in rock history!

(Dylan in the summer, diving into a pool of holy water.) 


Trouble- If "trouble" is what you want, then you can get plenty of it from Preacher Zimmy, the greatest committer of rock sins in the late '70s/early '80s. "Trouble" is a lopsided, fairly mindless song full of gnarled Dylan vocal belting. The bass line and percussion bounces along loosely while the guitar shits all over the place. No THANKS!

Speaking of Trouble, I've succumbed to the temptation (of the Devil), and got out the French Vanilla Ice Cream.  Oh damn! Forgive me lord, for I am weak! 

 
(about to crack open the French Vanilla, also know as "Pudding From Heaven")


Every Grain of Sand- 4 OK friends... welcome to the first documented dessert indulgence of Dinner With Dylan. I just scooped myself a healthy glob of Pudding From Heaven (y'know, French Vanilla). It's time to CELEBRATE the birth of BOB DYLAN with some fine desserts! Which reminds me, as we wind down this religious trilogy, never once have we said "Grace." So, please, bow your heads as I'm about to scoop this Vanilla down my gullet.

Bless us Father Dylan for this cream, with sugar, of which I am about to receive from Stop N Shop through aid of a spoon. Through Zim, our entertainer, Amen.

Thank you all. Now with this CLASSIC later period song. Preacher Zimmerman finally concludes his religious trilogy with this 6 minute piano limp that wouldn't sound far out of place in a Hallmark commercial. At it's core, there's a beautifully lush quality hiding in some dated production. The lyrics are flat out brilliant, weaving imagery through long verse, something we haven't seen from Dylan since he was still into hanging with Satan in those Godforsaken smoke-filled East Village cafes. Excellent closer, and proof that Dylan might have been Saved... if only just slightly!



Well, thank you everyone for hanging with the infamous Dylan religious trilogy... Thank you to my wife for the Quorn dish.  It may not be the last time we see it!

(a different Korn spelled incorrectly.... for reference only)


Join me next time as we continue the slow walk through the '80s, as Dylan leaves the church behind him and returns to a more conventional career with 1983's Infidels.  See ya!


("Jesus, it's been fun. But I gotta run"- Bob Dylan venturing on into the 80s)


and once more!!!..


1 comment:

  1. We agree on this much: just as "Planet Waves" is the all-time worst title for an album, so "Shot of Love" has the all-time worst cover art.

    As for your review.... well, at least you liked "Property of Jesus", maybe the most deliciously nasty Christian rock song of all time! (Although he's a serious Christian, I don't think Dylan ever quite figured out that whole "turn the other cheek" stuff....)

    While there are some problems here - mostly with recording and production on certain cuts - this is overall an excellent album that could have been a great one if some of the songs that got cut had been left in (this will become a pattern for Dylan throughout the '80s). Sorry you couldn't appreciate either the title song or "Groom", two killer cuts IMO. "In the Summer-
    time" is a lovely religious song, although it takes a back seat to "Every Grain of Sand", probably one of Dylan's ten greatest songs of all time, and a brilliant conclusion to his "Christian" period (which has never actually ended, but that's another story....)

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