Not as religious as Saved or Shot of Love, not as marred by 80s’ production as Empire Burlesque and Knocked Out Loaded and not as wholly inconsequential as Down in the Groove, and thus, one of his better album of the 80s (third, after Oh Mercy and Shot of Love). But even then, there are still religious undertones and it is still marred by 80s’ production and thus, still inconsequential. Only three songs are worth saving: “Jokerman,” for its melodic choruses and thin groove (which is a huge improvement on the unsuccessful reggae attempts on Shot of Love); “Sweetheart Like You,” for its well-sung hook, thoughtful lyrics (ie. “You know, I once knew a woman who looked like you / She wanted a whole man, not just a half / She used to call me sweet daddy when I was only a child”) and the only song that isn’t marred by song length or 80s’ production; “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight” for tasteful guitar licks and “Come over here from over there, girl” sung perfectly.
Elsewhere, “Neighborhood Bully” sounds like something that came out of Saved that’s been rebooted with the “slicker” production and with lyrics about Zion instead of Christianity; “License to Kill” replaces Sly Dunbar with a machine and whose only notable quality is how it seems Bob Dylan was inspired by Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (“You’re a noisemaker, spirit maker, heartbreaker, backbreaker / Don’t you mess around, NO NO NO!”); nothing happens in “Man of Peace” despite it being the longest song on the album. And troubling lyrics throughout, even when they’re not about Zion: “A woman like you should be in the kitchen / That’s where you belong”; “Oh, man has invented his doom / First step was touching the moon”; “They used to grow food in Kansas / Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it.” I changed one of those words for comedic effect, but with that patchy beard, those sunglasses and that mullet, who cares?