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