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on 5 August 2003
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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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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on 5 October 2005
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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on 14 July 2003
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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on 16 May 2009
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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on 30 December 2013
I brought this album because I am a massive Dylan fan who wanted to listen to his lesser known work. The religious themes didn't really bother me. I just wanted to know what it sounded like. Most of the songs are as dull as dish water. It seriously lacks the warmth of Blood on the Tracks. I agree with the reviewer who said it's like he is preaching to you and as a Dire Straits fan it's a shame that the talents of Knopfler and Withers couldn't have been utilised. Man Gave Names To All The Animals is rightly regarded as one of the worst songs he has ever recorded.

There is one exception. Precious angel is absolutely beautiful and I would actually consider it to be one of Dylan's best songs. It always puts a smile on my face. Dylan said it is one of those songs that would simply go on forever. I know exactly what he means.

To conclude I would only buy this if your a completionist. It's just awful. Download Precious angel though!
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on 29 July 2010
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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on 11 June 2011
A great album from Bob in 1979. Beautifully recorded and the songs sung with sincerity. I love "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" and the title track "Slow Train Coming" which he has also sung with the Grateful Dead in concert and occasionally continues to do so.Another stand out track is "Gotta Serve Somebody" which really makes you think. These are very strong intriguing autobiographical songs from Bob Dylan telling us of his new found faith. It must have taken a lot of courage to nail his beliefs to the mast and state he was a born again Christian to the music buying public and the music industry.When you play the album/C.D. today I don't think it has aged at all and still sounds relevant.
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on 19 May 2006
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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on 2 April 2009
This is one of my favourite Dylan albums, passionate singing, terrific flowing music helped by the wonderful guitar playing of Mark Knopfler at his very best. Don't be put off by the Christian lyrics. The devil doesn't have all the best tunes!
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