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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius x 2: Dylan and Knopfler
This 1979 mellow but masterful offering from Bob Dylan was recorded in the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, and has a slightly funky feel to it. It's a work of amazing strength, and I can only conclude that the reason it has been so underrated is because of its Christian theme. The words are powerful, and the melodies bright and beautiful.
Mark...
Published on 5 Aug 2003 by Alejandra Vernon

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Train Coming: Bob Dylan - Oh dear Bob, when you gonna wake up?,
This 1979 album, the 19th studio album from Bob Dylan, for me marks the start of the longest run of bad albums in his career, lasting until 1997 with the release of `Time Out Of Mind'. Forgetting Dylan's conversion to Christianity, and the overt religious themes of the music that puts many listeners off, there seems to be a total lack of the drive, passion and adverstity...
Published on 29 Aug 2012 by Victor


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius x 2: Dylan and Knopfler, 5 Aug 2003
This review is from: Slow Train Comin' (Audio CD)
This 1979 mellow but masterful offering from Bob Dylan was recorded in the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, and has a slightly funky feel to it. It's a work of amazing strength, and I can only conclude that the reason it has been so underrated is because of its Christian theme. The words are powerful, and the melodies bright and beautiful.
Mark Knopfler's unique sound can always be recognized after only a few notes from his guitar, and he graces this recording with his extraordinary musicianship. The former guiding light of Dire Straits, Knopfler is a large part of what makes this recording so special.
Though most of the songs have tough lyrics about making the right choices in life, "Man Gave Names To All the Animals" is a humorous and delightful tune that one keeps humming long after the CD has ended.
Dylan was asked by John Dolen of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel in 1995 if he thought there was still a Slow Train Coming, and Dylan said, "When I look ahead now, it's picked up quite a bit of speed. In fact, it's going like a freight train now". Yes, this CD and its message are more relevant than ever, and it deserves its place at the forefront of popular music history with the best of Dylan's other great recordings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Established the trend that SHOT OF LOVE takes to the extreme, 2 Oct 2007
This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
Of Dylan's three Christian albums, aesthetically this is the best and most consistent, although SAVED is a strong gospel album in its own right.. SHOT OF LOVE, while having some brilliant moments (although, unfortunately, most of the brilliant moments were left OFF that particular album), never really fully gelled to the vision Dylan seemed to want to take it. SHOT OF LOVE filled like it was supposed to be a Christian pop album, merging the best of both art forms into a cohesive whole. When it worked, it really worked ("Every Grain of Sand.") When it didn't, SHOT OF LOVE just sinks.

And what of SLOW TRAIN COMING? Well, like SHOT OF LOVE, only half of this record gels into truly great material. The first four songs on Side 1 start the album really strong. Judging from the momentum these songs have, SLOW TRAIN COMING should have a really strong finish, and would have been one of his best albums. Sadly, Dylan stalls halfway through the album and as a result SLOW TRAIN COMING is greatly weakened. The rest of the album becomes craftsmanship instead of art, though the album does end on a high note with "When He Returns", a classic Gospel song.

That, perhaps, is the best identifier for SLOW TRAIN COMING. Dylan's obviously focused on these tracks, and you can tell he wants the album to have a contemporary sound (hence Knopler and his gang). The first four tracks show's Dylan's brilliance in a Christian context. The remaining four (not including "When He Returns") show Dylan in a focused, workman like determination to come up with a collection of songs that reflect his new found faith. While there's nothing particularly wrong with these tracks, there's nothing particularly right with them either.

Instead of placing the highlights throughout the album, as he did with STREET LEGAL and SHOT OF LOVE, Dylan chose to put all the good stuff at the beginning. Perhaps the reason for this is to win sympathy for the album and to carry the record through to the end, but for this listener I just want to push stop and eject after the first four tracks have gone by. The listening frustration is more intense on SLOW TRAIN COMING because of this fact.

When Dylan strikes gold, he really hits it big time. The rest just appear as songs that anyone could have written, and sometimes the dogma makes for rather odd songs ("Man Gave Names To All The Animals"). "Man" is the most interesting track off the second side and that is because it's so strange and musically it's reggae. Other than that, while Dylan's commitment to his faith and his desire to channel this faith into his art is indeed an admirable cause, in the end there's only about a side here worth really looking at. The rest are good, just a long way from the brilliance of the first four cuts.

There are, as with most Dylan albums, some additional songs recorded that were not included. Unlike some of his albums, that wasn't a lot of surplus material left over, however. One is "Seven Days", a fair song in its own right that Ron Woods of Rolling Stone fame made a hit of. Dylan also recorded a song entitled "Trouble in Mind" and issued it as a b-side to "Gotta Serve Somebody". This song is one of the highlights of the Slow Train Coming sessions, and should have been on the album. Find it if you can. It's a great song. So is "Ye Shall be Changed" from the BOOTLEG SERIES. Both these songs are better and more enjoyable to listen too than the four workman-like songs on the second side.

This is probably the best album of the Christian Trilogy, though SAVED has some great songs. But people who don't necessarily like gospel will find more in STC than they will in SAVED, and a significant potion of his fan base will find STC easier to listen too.. The contrast between the brilliant tracks and the just so tracks becomes much more apparent in SHOT OF LOVE than SLOW TRAIN COMING. The worst material on here still stands as serviceable tracks, just not brilliant tracks. SHOT OF LOVE, however, is cluttered with material that just barely makes the cut aesthetically, yet the brilliant stuff of that album is even better than the first four songs here, so the extremes are more fully realised on SHOT OF LOVE than on SLOW TRAIN COMING. As for "Every Grain of Sand," nothing here matches that, but that is only one song and one song cannot make an album (listen to "In a Gadda Da Vida" for proof).

In relation to STREET LEGAL, this album seemed to be a natural progression. Dylan is always one for trying something different and new. Lyrically, there are cuts on STREET LEGAL is on rival with the best of his 1960s material. The last cut ("Where are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)") shows Dylan struggling to find something in his life worth caring about. Here is the answer to that question.

Bottom line: Dylan getting religion, while spiritually the most important thing a person can do, only results in fair material with some brilliant moments. Of his three Christian albums, this is the most even keeled and consistent. SAVED is a great album, but not as accessible to people who aren't into the whole gospel scene, and SHOT OF LOVE is just too inconsistent and had too many great songs cut to make it a worthwhile listen, though it has a handful of the best songs he ever wrote, which for Dylan is saying a lot.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, 19 May 2006
By 
Meinhard Jensen "Meinhard" (Faroes) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When Bob Dylan became a Christian, he changed a lot, including his writing, singing and music and musicians and everything. But he did that before and he's done it since. He only did one Slow Train Coming and no one else has done anything else like it. Highlights for me are Slow Train, Gotta Serve Somebody, Gonna Change My Way of Thinking, and Man Gave Names to the Animals. Others have other favorites. The SACD version sounds so good that it's hardly believeable. Knopfler definitely left his fingerprints all over, as did the producer and the other musicians. They're extremely tight and groovy. A perfect blend of rock and soul and funk and gospel. There you have it.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1979 Bob Passes With Merit, 5 Oct 2005
By 
John Heaton (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
This album is accessible musically and contains some of Bob's very best songs. Ignore the carps of the Anti-Jesus brigade (whoever they are!)....just listen to these songs for what they are. A man at a crossroads of his life following a messy and expensive divorce from Sara and finding a New Life in Christianity. Who can have a problem with that? It's ridiculous to even talk about. So what if some of the lyrics are confident and even derogatory to Non Believers? What exactly would you expect?? If others can't share his views or even accept them that is their problem. We all have our views. And what makes ours superior to his? All this talk about Dylan losing his objectivity and open mindedness is plain bullsh*t in my opinion. Would you prefer him to be championing the joys of snorting cocaine or drinking whiskey? Come on! This album is sincere in its delivery and the fact that his views are strong and full of conviction count as a virtue in my opinion. Kind of wish I had that conviction. In something at least. Other than Ringo Starr B Sides.
And so to the album. 'Gotta Serve Somebody' is just great, as is 'Precious Angel'....totally infectious (with tasteful Knopfler guitar)...and the next number 'I Believe In You' ranks alongside 'Every Grain Of Sand' and 'Forever Young' as Great Bob Ballads for different reasons, vulnerability, passion, just greatness. Whatever.
The title track lets the side down somewhat (pun not intended) and 'Gonna Change My Way of Thinking' is a little boring, musically at least. 'Do Right Unto Others' is sublime and 'When You're Gonna Wake Up' is thoroughly uplifting on all levels. Nice horns. 'Man Gave Names To All The Animals' is a children's song and none the worse for that. Hilarious to boot (seemed like there was nothing he couln't pull....aaahhh.....think I call it a bull etc). The closing track the piano based When He Returns is a real tour de force. Incredibly moving even if you are His Lordship Spock from the planet Vulcan. Or whatever it's called.
This album does not contain the mystique of its predecessor 'Street Legal' (1978) but neither does it display the bitter, twisted and confused (albeit brilliant) artist that that album did. Hats off Bob. Thank You for this album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat grim, 25 May 2007
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
This notorious album opens with Gotta Serve Somebody, a slow edgy number with prominent female vocals in a genuine gospel style, whilst Precious Angel is a tuneful folky track. One of the most moving songs is I Believe In You, a description of the rejection often experienced by those who openly confess their faith, expressed in stirring poetic lyrics over a lovely melody line.

The title track Slow Train is a messy mid-tempo rock excursion infused with gospel backing vocals, certainly not the strongest offering on the album. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking is a similarly downtempo rock number but with some nice organ flourishes, unfortunately a bit harsh in both sentiment and in sound.

The jerkily rhythmic Do Right To Me Baby is a pleasant enough rumination on the golden rule with some clever lyrical twists, whilst the meandering When You Gonna Wake Up is a call to repentence I suppose, but not particularly tuneful or memorable. The next one, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, is lighter and quite appealing with its gently lilting beat.

The album concludes with the stirring devotional When He Returns. One would have expected more of the Van Morrison type of mystical joyousness, but this album is often grim and uncompromising. Mercifully the aforementioned songs like Precious Angel, I Believe In You and When He Returns are lovely and comforting.

Of Dylan's religious albums, I think Shot Of Love with its gems like Every Grain Of Sand and Lenny Bruce, and Infidels with tracks like Neighbourhood Bully and Jokerman are the best. Slow Train Coming is not bad at all but not an album that I often listen to. The thought of how it must have shocked the rock critics when it was released is however cause for mirth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's First Christian Album., 16 May 2009
By 
J. Thompson "Willingale" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
When Slow Train Coming was released in 1979 many fans and people in the music press were somewhere between appalled, shocked and suprised.
Some had no idea Dylan would ever record an album proclaiming Christian beliefs, although others who had noted biblical references in his songs over many years found Slow Train Coming not entirely unexpected.
It opens with a powerful song, Gotta Serve Somebody and continues with the lovely Precious Angel and from the heart, I Believe In You.
Next there's a change of pace for Slow Train Coming which is linked to the closing track When He Returns.
Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) and When You Gonna Wake Up mixes between calls to the listerners and calling to himself to take the Christian message seriously, even though it can mean qestioning everything they believed before.
Man Gave Names To All The Animals is a simple and childlike song which provides some lighter moments to this often hard driving album.
This is a great album and better still after being remastered.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a Wart., 14 July 2003
By 
Mr. A. Keen "anybodyatall" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Slow Train Comin' (Audio CD)
This album grows on you. I have to say that the first few times I listened to this I thought... hmm. Not much to it. Dylan's voice doesn't sound his best, and the production just sounds a bit empty, somehow. Crashy drums, and minimal music. Precious Angel drew me into the album, however, and before long I was listening to Slow Train, and then I Believe in You. Now I can listen to the whole album and really enjoy it. Its reggae-esque feel in places, and its gentle Christian leanings, are just idiosyncracies which you don't need to share to make the most of the songs. And his style of singing changes in the last song - it sounds like his Ballad of Ira Hayes from Dylan. It's worth buying (although if you're new to Dylan, perhaps it's not the first priority!) But whatever you do, if you do buy it, listen to it more than once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow Train Coming, 29 July 2010
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This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
Larry Norman said that this was the best rock gospel album he's ever heard. I'm not sure about that, because some of Larry's are in contention, but this CD is simply brilliant.
It needs listening to a few times, but stick with it and you'll have your reward.
Bob Dylan wrote some of his best work during his "Christian" spell and you can tell that he was really in the groove then.
Maybe he was blessed, but certainly he put over the message in his wonderful lyrics and music.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a Hard Rain to a Slow Train, 4 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Slow Train Comin' (Audio CD)
For a long time I was put off buying this album because of all the negativity there is surrounding it both among critics and fans. However, after reading a bit about it and Dylan's circumstances at the time, I decided that at least it would be interesting. I was not disappointed. This is a truly excellent album. Sure, there is a lot of fire and brimstone but it's great to hear Dylan singing with fire in his belly (he quite rightfully won a Grammy for Best Male Vocal Performance). The best tracks here are, in my opinion, "Gotta Serve Somebody", "I Believe in You" and "Slow Train". Apparently, this is Nick Cave's favourite Dylan album, when you hear it you'll see that makes perfect sense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Train Coming: Bob Dylan - Oh dear Bob, when you gonna wake up?,, 29 Aug 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Slow Train Coming (Audio CD)
This 1979 album, the 19th studio album from Bob Dylan, for me marks the start of the longest run of bad albums in his career, lasting until 1997 with the release of `Time Out Of Mind'. Forgetting Dylan's conversion to Christianity, and the overt religious themes of the music that puts many listeners off, there seems to be a total lack of the drive, passion and adverstity that had made so many of his previous albums masterpieces. There is the occasional highlight, such as the powerful opening track `Gotta Serve Somebody', but for the most part the album is supremely bland and uninteresting. Even the presence of the mighty Mark Knopfler on guitars and the Muscle Shoals on horns cannot lift the piece, neither can the presence of Jerry Wexler as producer. It should have been a dream team, but it falls totally flat due to Dylan's completely uninspired songwriting.

Not as bad as Self Portrait, or Empire Burlesque, just bland and unengaging. 2 stars.
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