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Oh Mercy

Bob Dylan

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Album Review

Oh Mercy was hailed as a comeback, not just because it had songs noticeably more meaningful than anything Bob Dylan had recently released, but because Daniel Lanois' production gave it cohesion. There was cohesion on Empire Burlesque, of course, but that cohesion was a little too slick, a little too commercial, whereas this record was filled with atmospheric, hazy production — a sound as arty as most assumed the songs to be. And Dylan followed suit, giving Lanois significant songs — palpably social works, love songs, and poems — that seemed to connect with his past. And, at the time, this production made it seem like the equivalent of his '60s records, meaning that its artiness was cutting edge, not portentous. Over the years, Oh Mercy hasn't aged particularly well, seeming as self-conscious as such other gauzy Lanois productions as So and The Joshua Tree, even though it makes more sense than the ersatz pizzazz of Burlesque. Still, the songs make Oh Mercy noteworthy; they find Dylan quietly raging against the materialism of President Reagan and accepting maturity, albeit with a slight reluctance. So, Oh Mercy is finally more interesting for what it tries to achieve than for what it actually does achieve. At its best, this is a collection of small, shining moments, with the best songs shining brighter than their production or the album's overall effect. [In 2003, Columbia/Legacy reissued 15 selected titles from Dylan's catalog as hybrid SACDs, playable in both regular CD players and Super Audio CD players. Each title is packaged as a digipak, containing the full original artwork. On each of the titles, and on each of the layers, the remastered sound is spectacular, a considerable upgrade from the initial CD pressings.]

Customer Reviews

Minor masterpiece

Terrific, under-rated late-80s album from Dylan. This was a triumphant comeback after some seriously mediocre releases, an album of rich soundscapes (thanks to Daniel Lanois) and dark, moody, ironic lyrics. Dylan's voice is nicely understated as well. Among a handful of Dylan albums (also Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind) that stand the test of time & show the singer-songwriter at his absolute best.

Biography

Born: 24 May 1941 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist's role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock....
Full Bio