Bob Dylan – Slow Train Coming Columbia FC 36120 (1979)
I’ve developed a theory that Dyan’s “christian” phase that began with Slow Train Coming was less about him converting to a particularly dogmatic strain of pentecostal christianity and more about him implicitly moving into the same camp as French academic charlatan Michel Foucault (maybe the “new philosophers” like André Glucksmann could be thrown into the conversation here too). The reasons some people are skeptical of this part of Dylan’s career are the same reasons some people are skeptical of Foucault’s neoliberal historicist/”identity politics” theories, which are complete bullshit and evidenced a questionable kind of pandering and opportunism (not to mention a huge over-reliance on revenge fantasies). But, anyway, this album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, and it has a smooth disco R&B/soul sound, like a mellower, less emotional counterpart to Bowie‘s Young Americans or even a more intellectual counterpart to the lily-white blues rock of Eric Clapton. It’s a little too easy listening for its own good, but it still manages to be decent with a few good new songs. The album benefits tremendously by having Dylan actually trying throughout, and having active involvement of producers other than Dylan.