Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bob Dylan - Slow Train Coming

Today (August 20th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Slow Train Coming, the nineteenth studio album from Bob Dylan. It was his first release after becoming a born-again Christian, and the songs reflect many of those religious viewpoints. It was ranked number 16 in the Contemporary Christian Music Presents: the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music book in 2001. The multi-Platinum album spent twenty-six weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 3. It also hit number 2 in the UK and number 1 in Australia.

Side one begins with the Grammy Award winning “Gotta Serve Somebody (Dylan won for best Male Vocal)”. The single went to number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song has a slow, methodic tempo to it, delivering a down-and-dirty rock-gospel testimony.

“Precious Angel” was released as a single in the Netherlands. The lyrics are a love song to the woman who helped Dylan discover Christianity. This one has a fantastic melody that carries the listener along on a gentle journey.

“I Believe in You” is next. I like how it starts with a simple guitar in a single channel before slowly spreading out to the others. The guitar work through out the track is beautiful and soothing.

“Slow Train”, the second single, is a protest song about issues at the time. They include the oil crisis, poverty, greed and religious hypocrisy.

Side two opens with “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking”, a blues-rock number.

The B-side to the second single was “Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)”, a mid-tempo take on the Golden Rule.

Next up is “When You Gonna Wake Up”.

The reggae influenced “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” was released as a promotional single and became a hit in France and Belgium. The lyrics are inspired by the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

The album closes with the spiritual piano-based ballad “When He Returns”.

I was familiar with the album’s opener from radio airplay back in 1979, but this was first full listen through of the entire album. I enjoyed Slow Train Coming; the music is solid from start to finish thanks to guest musicians like Mark Knopfler and Pick Withers of Dire Straits, and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’s horn section.

For more Bob Dylan, click here.

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