Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan

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Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan
Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1979

Slow Train Coming ::: Artwork

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1.Gotta Serve Somebody5:25
2.Precious Angel6:31
3.I Believe In You5:10
4.Slow Train6:02
5.Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking5:29
6.Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)3:54
7.When You Gonna Wake Up5:29
8.Man Gave Names To All The Animals4:27
9.When He Returns4:31


This was where Bob Dylan found Jesus Christ, and it marks the most controversial point of his career, because in his live shows of the era he refused to play anything from his back catalog. He said those songs weren't 'given to him by God'.

Me, being a starry-eyed fanboy, might have attended one of those concerts and would've been thrilled to see him play anything. However, I guess Dylan had to deal with quite a few hecklers.

I'd say the best thing about Dylan finding Jesus - as far as his albums were concerned - was that it served to briefly revitalize his songwriting after the relatively disappointing Street Legal. It gave him an exciting new thing to write about, I guess.

Most of the songs seem to have a slow chugging mechanism behind them, a little like er ... a slow train coming. It sounds a bit like an early Dire Straits album, and - wouldn't you know it - this album features Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler on lead guitar. His influence was not only seen in the chuggy grooves, but he laces these songs heavily with healthy smatterings of his characteristic clean guitar (Knopfler reportedly only learned that this was going to be a Christian/rock album when he showed up for the sessions. Surprise!).

Now, when I tell you I don't mind the lyrics about God one iota, the statement would have to be supplemented with two things: (1) Most of the reviews I write give ne'er a mention to lyrics; (2) I am a Christian and thus not 'offended' or particularly 'mystified' by Dylan's public conversion. With the latter thing said however, I don't usually like Christian/rock. At least in the years I've grown up around churches and attending youth groups, pretty much all of the popular Christian/rock music I've heard seems plastic, seemingly stuck forever in the early 1990's Adult Contemporary scene. Its lyrics also tend to be either preachy or boringly simplified.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Dylan was hardly in a good mental state following the breakup of his marriage, and the small gesture of a silver cross thrown onto the stage during the Street Legal tour got him thinking.

He subsequently experienced what he perceived to be a 'born again' experience, and so he whole-heartedly embraced Christianity. That gave him both inspiration and a subject about which to write new songs.

Practically every song on Slow Train Coming is concerned with 'choosing sides' and the Apocalypse, and as Dylan realised such material could prove controversial with critics, this time round he learnt from the mistakes of Street Legal and chose his backing musicians with care - central to the album's sound was the emerging talent of Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) on guitar, with legendary soul producer Jerry Wexler producing.

Slow Train Coming proved to be a popular album, hanging around on the charts for quite some time, and even out-selling the likes of Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. Of course, not everyone was pleased - some of Dylan's fans were appalled by the religious nature of the new material, others doubted the reality of his new convictions.

But Slow Train Coming really is a fine record. As soon as the steady beat of "Gotta Serve Somebody" kicks in, it's immediately apparent how much care has been taken recording this album compared to Street Legal. The bass and drums lock together and create one groovy rhythm, and Dylan presents a fine set of lyrics.

"Precious Angel" is such a swoonsome song, that it can easily transcend its lyrics to be about anything romantic you might wish. The influence of Mark Knopfler becomes apparent here too - quite apart from the classy guitar - he even influences Dylan's vocal style a little.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)