Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Oh Mercy
Musicians: Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica, 12-string guitar, organ, Malcolm Burn – tambourine, keyboards, bass guitar, Rockin’ Dopsie – accordion, Willie Green – drums, Tony Hall – bass guitar, John Hart – saxophone, Daryl Johnson – percussion, Larry Jolivet – bass guitar, Daniel Lanois – dobro, lap steel, guitar, omnichord, Cyril Neville – percussion, Alton Rubin, Jr. – scrub board, Mason Ruffner – guitar, Brian Stoltz – guitar, Paul Synegal – guitar
Producer: Daniel Lanois
Engineers: Malcolm Burn, Mark Howard
Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi
The sound of this CD is thin, but not too bad. This is one of those records that may well sound better on vinyl depending on source.
1. “Political World” – Bob Dylan was struggling to come up with the right arrangement for this tirade against the modern world when producer Daniel Lanois came up with a setting that he thought could make the song work. Guitarist Brian Stolz recalled to Uncut magazine: “Dan had an idea for a little groove, kind of a funkier groove. I remember we ran through it a few times before Bob got there. Bob came walking in the room when we were playing. He said, ”What’s that?’ Dan said, ‘It’s a little something we’re working up for ‘Political World.’ And Bob said, ‘Political World’? It doesn’t go like that! It goes like this.'”
“He picked up a guitar and started playing it and we all jumped in – and my memory is that’s the track you hear on the record,” Stolz added. “If you listen to ‘Political World’ you can hear how Willie (Green, drums) doesn’t even come in with the beat because he was jumping in after Bob.” http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=33854
This song covers some political and social ground and ironically, while written in the late eighties, it pertains that much more to 2016/2017. This up-tempo song despite it’s one chord and extreme simplicity musically, is one of my favorites.
2. “Where Teardrops Fall”- This ballad is almost country sounding, but not quite.
3. “Everything Is Broken” – This is another favorite of mine, the song’s lyrics describe Dylan’s detachment from his world at the time of its writing.
4. “Ring Them Bells” – In this gospel flavored song as in “Where Teardrops Fall” Dylan holds onto a faith that is millenarian but more generous than the one he has articulated on his more overtly Christian records.
5. “Man in the Long Black Coat” – This is another of my favorites on this album. No, it is not about Johnny Cash. It’s a chilling narrative ballad. Sung by Dylan in a husky, tormented whisper, the song tells of a woman who leaves her man for a demonic stranger, prompting a series of reflections on the nature of conscience, religious faith and emotional commitment. One of my favorite lines, Dylan sings, “There are no mistakes in life, some people say/And it’s true sometimes, you could see it that way/People don’t live or die, people just float/She went with the man in a long black coat.”
1. “Most of the Time” – This a love song of taunting regret is much like U2’s “Your Blue Room” from the Passengers soundtrack.
2. “What Good Am I?” – This slightly gospel flavored song is one of self-examination in the vain of the previous song.
3. “Disease of Conceit” – This song, once again with a slight gospel bent is about just what the title says.
4. “What Was It You Wanted” – This song is seemingly about a former lover, it sets forth a series of chiding questions about expectations — expectations that the singer has failed to meet, implicitly because of their unreasonable nature. This is also another favorite of mine off this LP.
5. “Shooting Star” – This ballad is my least favorite on the album. It’s a kind of restless farewell.