Slow Train Coming (1979)

1. Gotta Serve Somebody 2. Precious Angel 3. I Believe You 4. Slow Train 5. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking 6. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) 7. When You Gonna Wake Up? 8. Man Gave Names to All the Animals 9. When He Returns


The Born Again phase begins. In hindsight, it makes me slightly angry when I think about this album. Angry because people seemed to make such a big deal out of Dylan's conversion, that many people seemed to not judge the album on its music. O.K., granted, a lot of his fans didn't want to be preached to - and he does lay it down pretty heavy lyric wise, but the actual songs and the overall album is one of the best he had done in a long time, and definitely one of his best albums of the 1970s.

Dylan had always been pretty heavy with philosophy and such, so it really wasn't that strange to see when he went in this direction. Many of his songs from the past had Biblical imagery (several years ago, he stated that the Bible was both the most underrated, and the most overrated book,) Unlike many artists who find religion, Dylan doesn't slightly dabble with it here. No, this is a full fledged Christian rock album.

Music wise, it has a lot of the same slick seventies feel that he introduced to us back on Street Legal. The instruments are toned down (thankfully) quite significantly, though. There's no big brass instruments or brash background singers to cloud up the mix. It's a much simpler record that allows Dylan's strengths as a songwriter to really flourish. It also certainly didn't hurt to have guitar extraordinaire and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler on so much of the album in the guitar department.

Apart from the brilliant title track and the single Gotta Serve Somebody, Dylan also puts out one of his heartfelt best in the beautiful I Believe in You. Precious Angel is much more light hearted, but lyric wise it fits the bill and is one of the strong points of the album. What's funny is that there are few places on the album that really seem to be quite ridiculous, such as the track Man Gave Names to All the Animals. It's one of the most simple, juvenile pieces that Dylan had written, yet you can't help finding yourself humming the melody after only a few listens with its infectious reggae groove.

Sure, this album and the few that followed would never be given a fair shake to many closed minded listeners, but kudos to Dylan for sticking to what he believed in and, as always, singing from the heart no matter what the naysayers would say.

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