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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 17 June 2003
Believe it or not this is the album I often reach for while many of the Dylan 'classics' gather dust on the shelves. I got all the other Dylan albums before this one because of the bad reviews. Don't make the same mistake. Even though Dylan has since re-thought his views on christianity this album is a very worthwhile purchase and an important stop on Dylans journey.
'Saved' has a rather special quality that seems to be absent in a lot of music today: passion. Imagine the power of Dylan's songwriting and delivery behind a real 'message', backed by superb gospel vocals and you have 'Saved'. This is an intense and passionate recording by a man who truly believes in what he is singing. I challenge anyone with an ounce of sensitivity not to be moved by 'covenant woman' , 'pressing on' or 'in the garden'. Saved is, in my opinion, a far more worthwhile purchase than many of Dylans 80's albums .
Do make sure you get the wonderful 'Slow Train Coming' first though!
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on 3 October 2005
It is profoundly untrendy in some quarters to say anything positive about this album. Even the album cover, of a Hand reaching down to save us mere mortals seems to annoy some people? Why? I am not sure. All I can talk about is the conviction and considerable warmth on display throughout this album. This album did not judge, unlike its predecessor Slow Train Coming allegedly did (but that is another review). This record focuses more on the sheer joy that Dylan was experiencing at the time.....and although melody may have taken a backseat to an extent here, we have some songs right here which are among the most moving of Dylan's entire career. Others complain that the live renditions of these songs on Bob's US tour the year before were infinitely superior to these versions. Well, even though I am not sure about that, not having been there and having heard the quality of the live bootlegs in question, I maintain that this album is the only proper record of this set of songs on offer, and when I heard it for the first time I did not find the performances flat or ininspired. In fact many of them are no less than inspirational. From my perspective, one does not have to necessarily share in Dylan's beliefs here....but for sure this album are incredibly moving on most tracks. On 'Pressing On' Dylan sounds both vulnerable yet sure footed. Singing with the conviction of old, but on this occasion, gone are the bitterness, politics or mystique...here is a man simply striving to be happy and fulfilled. Is this not the goal of anyone? The same can be said about 'What Can I Do For You?' and 'Covenant Woman' and most especially on 'Saving Grace' which is just sublime in its heartfelt lyric and delivery and on this occasion a fine melody to boot. It is not too often that Dylan sounds humble....but he does on most of this record...and the effect is very endearing.
There are weaker moments like the unsatisfactory throw away cover of 'A Satisfied Mind' (a great song) and 'In The Garden' and 'Are You Ready' which both suffer from lack of melody, although still carrying a considerable emotional punch. But on 'Solid Rock' not only the emotion is there but he rocks like he hadn't done for years, well supported by his band feauring the reliable Jim Keltner among others on fine form.
So there we have it. Dylan's most criticized album. And probably at the time (1980) his most ignored. Yet here am I recommending you to buy it! Well all I can say if you appreciate the complex and intriguing personality that this man was and is, how can you ignore such a pivotal period of his career? I recommend this one, the previous one 'Slow Train Coming' (1979) and the next one 'Shot of Love' (1981). All three are special. And it is 'Saved' which is the personal and quietly devotional of the three. This is no 'Blood On The Tracks' but is immensely rewarding piece of work all the same.
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It is my humble opinion that this particular religious offering has been unfairly shunned by many Dylan fans. I'm a big fan of the man, but not too big to admit when he's made a mistake. This is the first of the Christian trilogy I acquired (solely for the harp work on What Can I Do For You?) and I was pleasently suprised by such refreshing material.

To me this seems like another case of Dylan doing something a little out of context and his fans being offended by a man who is supposedly the prophetic voice of generations. I suggest this should be overlooked in favour of the pure joy and excitement in some of these songs (Saved being my personal favourite). Dylan sings with conviction and none of the performances seem lackluster.

The religious sentiment may not to be to everyones taste, and I didn't expect such music from Dylan but it is not to say it isn't worthwhile music. The musicians on this album lay down some great tracks and though Dylan may not be the poet he was on earlier albums such as 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' and 'The Times They Are A' Changing' he's having a good time.

I was always a firm believer in creating music for yourself, and this is Dylans journey, we're just along for the ride. Who are we to pass judgement on how he feels?

As the man himself once said 'Don't criticise what you can't understand'. Some of the truest words ever spoken, or sung.
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on 28 November 2003
OK so this is real "heart on his sleeve" stuff. Subtle? No. Complex and intelligent? No. However there is a passion and urgency about this album which transcend its evangelical message (whatever you do, don't read the words!).
Not listened to Saved for, oh, at least 20 years. However for some reason I recently stumbled on it again, dusted it off and gave it a spin. What I rediscovered was a straightforward, soulful gospel/rock album which managed to uplift my sagging spirits (not in any religous way!). The sound is full, solid and warm, dominated by a chugging rhythm section, wailing hammond organ and amazing backing vocals.
At the (post punk) time it was deeply unfashonable, but now we're allowed to like gospel, country and roots music again it makes much more sense.
Standout tracks are Covenant Woman and the rapturous Pressing On.
Next stop in my journey of rediscovery - Slow Train Coming.
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on 15 May 2009
For years I'd heard this album was a commercial dud and derided by critics and fans alike. As a result I'd given it a wide berth. Recently though I thought I'd take the plunge so at least I could have a valid opinion of my own. I'm glad I did....this is an unexpected gem! If you like the Slow Train Coming, Street Legal era (which I do), this fits in seamlessly and is a terrific album. I wish I'd given it a chance sooner - but better late than never!
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2013
Saved is generally an album that many new Dylan fans tend to ignore. Likely because of its subject matter which for some reason puts people off. Indeed Bob Dylan was a born again Christian at this stage in his life (I'm not sure what he believes now however) and this album celebrates finding faith and renewed strength. However to judge this album purely on its lyrical context would be missing a great deal. First of all the lyrics themselves, whether you are Christian or not, are really very intersting to hear one mans journey to finding faith and what it means to him. The songs themselves are really well put together and performed, gospelly at times, ballady and bluesy. I really like Dylans use of backup singers as it gives his songs far more punch but doesn't drown out his own voice, its a nice balance. Its an all round good album that is sadly lacking the praise it deserves. This and slow train coming are two great album from Dylan's born again period.
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on 1 December 2002
This album is different to many of Bob's other music. The music is more upbeat and melodic with some roots in a gospel style - but still with Bob's typical folk influence. The lyrics reflect the highs and lows of emotion of someone working through their faith and will be recognised by anyone who has experienced this process. This is the Dylan album I enjoy the most - try it with an open mind!
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on 29 May 2016
I love this era of Dylan,between 1974-80 he made some great music,Street Legal being a personal favourite.Saved usually gets panned because of it's full on Christian lyrics,as an atheist they don't mean a thing to me.However the passion in Dylan's voice & the gospel inspired music is superb,Covenent Woman,Pressing On,Solid Rock,What Can I Do For You? etc are pure class
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on 9 March 2012
Although many people dislike this album for its born-again fervour, it's exactly that that makes it so compelling. You don't need to believe in God to be moved by a man singing so passionately.
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Recorded at Muscle Shoals studios, this spiritual album contains a variety of styles, from straight gospel with strong female vocals to folky ruminations. Besides the opening number, all songs were written by Dylan whilst the title track, a rhythmic and uptempo gospel song, was co-written by Tim Drummond.

The next two tracks, the intimate Covenant Woman and What Can I Do For You with its moving harmonica, are tender slow ballads with a comforting message. The urgent, driving beat and soulful backing vocals make Solid Rock a powerful blend of rock and gospel, while Pressing On leans more to gospel but still has a strong rock infusion.

One of the most moving songs is In The Garden, a mid-tempo ballad of great intensity. There is lovely organ on Saving Grace, a tuneful ballad passionately delivered, and the album concludes with Are You Ready, also with impressive organ flourishes.

At times Dylan approaches the devotional intensity of Van Morrison in his most transcendent moments, but overall Saved is not as satisfying as its predecessor Slow Train Coming or its follow-up Shot Of Love. It is still a worthwhile work for fans and for those who love gospel-rock.
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