Dylan only made two truly great albums in the 80's. Near the start of the decade is this and the other is at the other end - Oh Mercy. Both have similar (rubbish?) cover art.
I bought this as an LP when it came out back in 1981. CBS have subsequently added the single B-side 'Groom still waiting at the alter', which was recorded during this albums sessions. It fits seamlessly unlike many 'extra' tracks you get on CD's.
Why is this my (& Bob's apparently) favourite Dylan album? Well it's the production values. Some of the songs are truly great, but all are interesting because they sound rough & ready - I read somewhere Dylan wanted it to sound 'live'.
It's not hard to imagine Dylan teaching these 'new' songs to this band in his garage...., it has a pre-production sound quality...., which is a very good thing.
About half the songs have a up-front 'Christian' lyric, but unlike his other 'born-again' albums some express an anger / a spitefulness.
The album was of course slated by the critics at the time of release. Christianity just wasn't 'Rock 'n' Roll' - Dylan had overstepped the mark.
Time has been kind though - many critics and fans now recognise 'Shot of Love' be a Dylan classic - personally I always knew it was.
The late 70's & most of the 80's were artistically baron times for Dylan. Street Legal is massively overrated, the live album Hard Rain has some merit, as to does Slow Train & possibly Infidels - the rest are pretty much dire.
Shot of Love & Oh Mercy are the only bright spots ...., both are up there with Dylan's (and hence rocks) best.