Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bob Dylan - Infidels

Today (October 27th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Infidels, the twenty-second studio album from American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Co-produced by Dylan and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler, it reached number 20 in the US, number 9 in the UK and number 6 in Australia.

Dylan provided guitar, harmonica, keyboards and vocals on the record. Joining him were Alan Clark (keyboards), Sly Dunbar (drums), Knopfler (guitar), Robbie Shakespeare (bass) and Mick Taylor (guitar).

Side one begins with “Jokerman”, a reggae influenced song that, to me, sounds like a commentary of leaders that many put too high on pedestals.

“Sweetheart Like You” addresses a woman in a dive, implying that she deserves better and that she should be home taking care of those that need her. The keyboards give it a slight gospel sound. As a single, it went to number 55 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Rod Stewart did a cover of the song in 1995 for his album A Spanner in the Works.

The rocking “Neighborhood Bully” was a commentary of the political situations going on in Israel at the time. Through the song, Dylan comes to the country’s defense and derides the press for how it treated the nation’s Jewish people.

“License to Kill” tells of a soldier who is off to fight a war and a woman (his wife or maybe his mother) who is left behind to wonder if it was all worth it. This one leans more towards Dylan’s traditional folk roots, complete with an ending harmonica solo.

Side two opens with “Man of Peace”, a down-home ditty about those that come across as promoters of harmony. However, their actions often speak louder than their words.

Dylan is joined by Clydie King (a teen recording artist in the late 1950’s and a backing/session vocalist for many - Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Diana Ross) on the vocals for “Union Sundown”. The track, which protests the importation of goods and corporate greed that results from that, charted at number 90 in the UK.

“I and I” is next up. I can definitely pick up Knopfler’s distinctive guitar playing on this one. Critics have speculated that it is a statement about Dylan’s inner self and the persona he adopts for the public.

The final track “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight” is a love song. It has a real familiar feel to me, but I cannot place exactly why. Maybe I have heard it before but just don't recall.

This was my first exposure to Infidels, and I found that I really liked it a lot. I definitely think Bob Dylan made the right choice to work with Mark Knopfler to update his sound for the 80’s.


Evarwyn said...

Nice job Martin, but I'm fat more interested in why you decided to cover this on its 13th anniversary and what it means to you :)

Martin Maenza said...

Evarwyn, did you take one too many hits last night while playing Oblivion? LOL And here I was scrambling to see if I made a typo or something.