Slow Train Comingby Bob Dylan
Perhaps it was inevitable that Bob Dylan would change direction at the end of the '70s, since he had dabbled in everything from full-on repudiation of his legacy to a quiet embrace of it, to dipping his toe into pure showmanship. Nobody really could have expected that he would turn to Christianity on Slow Train Coming, embracing a born-again philosophy with enthusiasm. He has no problem in believing in a vengeful god -- you gotta serve somebody, after all -- and this is pure brimstone and fire throughout the record, even on such lovely testimonials as "I Believe in You." The unexpected side effect of his conversion is that it gave Dylan a focus he hadn't had since Blood on the Tracks, and his concentration carries over to the music, which is lean and direct in a way that he hadn't been since, well, Blood on the Tracks. Focus isn't necessarily the same thing as consistency, and this does suffer from being a bit too dogmatic, not just in its religion, but in its musical approach. Still, it's hard to deny Dylan's revitalized sound here, and the result is a modest success that at least works on its own terms.
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Performance CreditsBob Dylan Primary Artist,Guitar
Muscle Shoals Horns Horn
Barry Beckett Percussion,Keyboards
Mickey Buckins Percussion
Carolyn Dennis Background Vocals
Tim Drummond Bass
Regina Havis Background Vocals
Mark Knopfler Guitar
Helena Springs Background Vocals
Pick Withers Drums
Technical CreditsBob Dylan Composer
Steven Berkowitz Reissue Producer
Barry Beckett Producer
Harrison Calloway Arranger
Didier C. Deutsch Tape Research
Gregg Hamm Engineer
Jerry Wexler Producer
Nick Saxton Tray Photo
Catherine Kanner Cover Illustration
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I did not think I was going to like this album, for many people said it was gospel. I don't mind christian music, but I'm not too fond of that particular genre. Well, I already knew the first song on here (Gotta Serve Somebody), which is not gospel. Come to find out, this is not really a gospel album! The songs on here are smooth, rockin' tracks. I LOVE Slow Train, Gonna Change My Ways, and When You Gonna Wake Up. This has to rank among my favorite Dylan albums. I was bobbin' my head throughout the whole thing. It's amazing!
So many Christian songs sound alike - they are perhaps written by those who have been sheltered and raised with the faith. Dylan comes from the outside world - he has experienced the disappointments with our secular society and has turned to the Lord as One Who is True and can satisfy. His songs speak to the educated or the idealist who has not found truth and satisfaction in the world - perhaps there is an everlasting Truth in God's Word.
Dylan once again does what HE wants to do and once again he gets booed for doing it. This time it seemed particularly unfair as, after being asked for two decades by the media "what's the truth?" he shares what he believes what the truth is and he gets attacked for it. Is it any wonder that after being hassled over his three Gospel albums, Dylan started his infamous mumbling era in live performances? It was as if Dylan was saying, 'If you don't want to hear what I have to say, why should I say it clearly'? But that was still in the future; here Dylan expresses his faith in the Gospel with an excellent set of powerful songs with the uncomfortable directness of a typically new believer, but that does not subtract from the power of these songs. In the last few years the critics (late as ever) have come around to appreciate his three Gospel albums (this one being the first) and perhaps now they will get a fair hearing. Not un-coincidentally, Dylan's live performances have grown more legible as these albums grow more appreciated.