Thursday, May 24, 2018

INTRODUCTION



WELCOME! Here, I will be attempting to review and write about every Bob Dylan record, and rate every song on every Dylan STUDIO album. How could someone do this, you ask? Easy. Very easy. I will also be eating my dinner while I do this, which is ever easier, but harder to type on occasion.

I WILL BE UPDATING THIS WEEKLY (perhaps 2 a week on occasion when the hunger strikes!)

Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, MN and took the world by storm in the early '60s. He continues to write, record, and tour to this day. For additional information on Bob Dylan, please refer to outside sources accessible in under 1 minute or less.

Each song is accompanied with a numerical rating as follows:
5- PERFECT
4- ALMOST PERFECT THERE, ZIMMY
3- I'LL TAKE IT, ZIM!
2- ZIMMERMAN!!! GET IN HERE AND EXPLAIN YOURSELF!
1- GET OUF MY OFFICE, ZIMMY. YOU'RE FIRED! 


With that I say, happy travels, safe listening, and MANGIA! (Italian for "chewy your food slowly"... if you do not chew slowly you may choke on your food. If you find yourself in this situation, please refer to the international sign for choking)
 

Shot of Love (1981)

Shot of Love
(1981, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER


(Mock chicken breast, spinach, roasted garlic, with onion)

My God, doesn't everything about the cover seemed destined to the dollar bin of your now defunct Tower Records? If you were brought to your knees by the sweaty, God-lovin' funk-rock of Slow Train Coming, and you were kind of into the gospel/coma-inducing rock tread of Saved, then has Pastor Zimmy got an album for you! Also, if you answered "yes" to liking Saved, I think it'd be time for a little one on one (divine) intervention. Unfortunately, my time is all booked up with writing strange reviews about archaic Christian rock albums, so you may be on your own with this one.

Okay, I'm being hard on Saved. I kind of dig it! Wait, what's happening? Are these records working? Am I, myself, becoming SAVED?

(Me getting Saved)
 

I think the FUCK not. See what I did there? I sinned. Whoops. But really, while the Religious trilogy is often frowned upon, and continues to confuse fans and followers alike, these really are some fascinating albums. There's some good, mostly bad, but some fascinating moments on Dylan's part... Just like Moses out wandering the desert, what a strange journey! I mean, Dylan almost seemed destined to do this anyway from back in the '60s. Take note of the clues... I mean is it really any coincide Dylan's Self-Portrait LP bears a striking resemblance to the recently retouched Spanish painting of Jesus?







(UNCANNY)


 Without any added nonsense, let's get onto the final "born-again" LP. Following in the Jesus-like sandal prints of the past two albums, Pastor Dylan returns with his 3rd, and final album of his Born Again Christianity phase. Perhaps the devil got into him again after this album, because like everyone knows, you can't keep the devil out.

("Hello, Bob? It's me, The Devil"- the Devil at Bob Dylan's house)


Anyway, Shot of Love continues to find early '80s Dylan in full foot dragging mode, even though he's kind of making things fun in a family-vacation-to-the-backyard kind of way; safe and sometimes Dad gets a little tipsy while playing a game of Cornhole.


("Well this is a FUN record, isn't it kids?"- a dad lovin' Shot of Love)

Here, Dylan seems to get some of the old "poetry" bug under his skin, really scaling back from singing things like "Repent to Jesus, you sinning fuckers," as he did on the last two albums. Sure, it's there, but the listener will find themselves coming out of this with less crucifix shaped bludgeon marks. The LP really picks up steam where Saved managed to arrive nearly DOA in many spots. The production is the best it's been in years, and there's some flat out HOT ROCKIN' moments interspersed with allusions to the Lord, along with straight-up mic drops dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ.


Speaking of the production department, at one point, legendary producer (and now billionaire), Jimmy Iovine was attached to recording the record. However, Dylan and Iovine parted ways, making room for producers Chuck Plotkin and Bumps Blackwell; two legends in their own right, and also guys with much funnier names than Iovine. With all said and done, at the end of the day, Shot of Love is arguably the BEST of the religious trilogy, and it's still pretty blahhhhhh.


(Bob Dylan coming to terms with how boring this Jesus thing is getting)



For the cover, if part of you thinks, "oh cool, did Roy Lichenstein do the cover?," then no, you'd be disappointed too. Simply put, two of the best things about this album is a picture of Bob Dylan smelling the roses on the back cover, and that he had audacity to name a song "Property of Jesus."


(the rejected cover of Dylan's Shot of Love, I think)

On to my dinner... Tonight, my wife once again has treated me to a lovely dinner. Figuring I might need a load off from the strain of typing, she has repeatedly taken the reins with preparing my meals. Thank you LORD! This go round, I have a rather simplistic dish of spinach, roasted garlic and onions. For the added protein, texture boost, we've got some vegan chicken breast chunks in there. This is a rather light, healthy dinner to go with a rather light, healthy-for-the-soul album. Without any further genuflections, let us pray.... And eat!


BUTTTTTTT.... (which is like a really big "butt"),  I'd like to first say, it is my honor to publish THIS edition of Dinner With Dylan on none other than Bob Dylan's BIRTHDAY!!! It was not by choice, but by chance on me wanting to eat and write. It was like a DIVINE INTERVENTION took place. So instead of breaking bread and saying Grace, let us cut the cake and sing.....

Happy Birthday....


Happy Birthday....


Happy Birthday, Robert, Bob, Bobby, Zimmy, Zim, Pastor Zim, Father Zimmy, Zimbot, Zimmerman!


( "keep going"- Bob Dylan")

Happy Birthday, TO YOU!!!!!!


("Hey, 'This Wheel's On Fire', Maaannnnnn"- Bob Dylan mistaking his birthday cake for a song title of his)


So once more, Happy Birthday77th birthday, Bob Dylan. What do you have to say for yourself?


Amen!





Side A:
Shot of Love- Ahh. If you believe in a God, then you must also believe he/she created Gospel Funk and it's alive, well, and baptizing the shit out of you in the land of early '80s Dylan. Despite being the opener to another LP about Jesus, Dylan makes sure this song sounds like one of the grossest sex songs of all-time. Between the sweaty piano grinding, bass plodding, and funky gunky guitar stabs, this thing is like a Hot Miami night full of debauchery. But lyrically, this is a song about needing the love of Jesus. This song is so strange, it's not terrible. It's greasier than any dinner I've ever reviewed on this site, and I need a mind napkin after this one to clean up any potential coagulation.

(This is exactly how the song "Shot of Love" sounds!!!)

Heart of Mine- Dylan opens up with some relaxed soft-strums that sort of build-up into a pretty decent tune with a simple, but nod-worthy hook. The song's loose all around, held upright by the airy, sometimes playful feel. How playful you ask? Well, the ol' comedic drummer boy, known as Ringo Starr plays some drums on this recording. It goes without saying, this song did NOT make or break Ringo's career, but so it goes. Also, Ron Wood of The Faces and The Rolling Stones plays guitar on this! Boy, I wonder how these sessions even went, such giants in the same room together!?

(Ringo at Sunday morning Confession... thanks, Starkey)

In keeping with recent posts, let's finally touch on my dinner for the evening during track 2. Like I said before, this dinner is very light. Spinach, onions, garlic. It's a stink fest for sure, but I like it smelly. The chicken chunks (or lack of chicken) is made by the fine people at Quorn. Quorn specializes in readily available vegan meat selections at most east coast supermarkets. It's a tasty dish, one that's giving my overworked arteries the night off.


Property of Jesus- The whole premise of this song is bunk as hell, and the lyrics are cringeworthy (unless you're like a cool priest), but goddamn is this a nearly GREAT song. The repetitive piano backbone really hooks you in, along with some Dylan vocals delivered with religious fervor that actually pays off. There's some scattered percussion clanging about throughout, and the back-up gospel singers nail it down (crucifixion stylee).  Who would've thought I'd be giving "Property of Jesus" a 5?  I don't know? Maybe Jesus himself, if you believe?

Lenny Bruce- Taking a much needed break from talking about JC for one song, Dylan pays tribute to the late, iconoclastic comedian Lenny Bruce. Part of this makes me wanna spit up my..... but part of it feels somewhat appropriate. Fairly strong tribute balladry, this one walks a fine line between complete unnecessary nostalgic melancholy and a nice throw-back to some '60's style outlaw-ballad songwriting.

(Lenny Bruce flashing some afterlife gratitude)

Hmmm, this Quorn Chicken dish is about polished off. Been taking light stabs at it, as to not ingest it like a prisoner on death row. Looks like it's time for a dish refill! Quorn Round 2!

Watered-Down Love- 3  A catchy enough bouncy little number from Dylan here. But c'mon, at this point in his career, why put the words "Watered-Down" in anything. His career is pooling into a diluted mess and he's fucking with the words "watered-down?" Hey that's ballsy! This one's a mildly catchy bopper, with Dylan giving some tip-of-the-cap throaty Dylan belting on display. The lyrics are more doggrel but so it's been for much of the last 30 something songs I've eaten food too. At any rate, this is truly middle-of-the-road, non offensive pop, and I find myself tapping a fork to the mid-tempo. Dad-pop I can get down with!

The Groom's Still Waiting At the AltarDid you miss the sleazy rock that opened up the LP? Fear not, the '80s are here. Get a leather jacket on, light up a Marlboro Red, and smash a bottle in a bar full of hot neons. This ripper is on FIRE. However, stay away from the flames. It's best to let it burn itself the hell out. Kind of Like God speaking to Moses as a burning bush, but with far less impact on the world.

("Peyote is fucking crazy"- Moses)

Dirty, hi-octane blues. Give Dylan some sort of credit here, I guess. This one sure has some blues-rock backbone, but it's suffering from debilitating scoliosis.

(It is said this song inspired the '98 Dylan biopic "The Wedding Singer" starring Christine Taylor and John Lovitz)


SIDE B:
Dead Man, Dead Man- 1 Alright, the dinner is done. And let me tell you... It was almost too healthy! I might need to make myself some french fries or polish it off with some French Vanilla Ice Cream to get by body back on the Transfat Train. Will keep you posted...

Here, in what Dylan considered an autobiographical look at himself, we find Preacher Zimm doing what he does best around the year 1981. If you guessed stale reggae-funk, you'd have just won a poster that says "Legalize It" along with a set of rosary beads. As far as songs, go, this one's exceptionally painful. Dylan closes the song with the lines "Who can't stand it?/I can't stand it." Preacher Zimmy, you speak for us all!

In the Summertime- Dylan gets away from morphing horrid styles of music into each other and gets back to the safe boring stuff we can all kick our fit up to on a Sunday morning. After that one-two punch from the previous bottom-of-the-Jordan tracks, one can only consider leaving the congregation altogether. Far from memorable, "In the Summertime," is mid-tempo, breezy folk-poper in a hammock made of schmaltz. Features one of the worst fade-outs in rock history!

(Dylan in the summer, diving into a pool of holy water.) 


Trouble- If "trouble" is what you want, then you can get plenty of it from Preacher Zimmy, the greatest committer of rock sins in the late '70s/early '80s. "Trouble" is a lopsided, fairly mindless song full of gnarled Dylan vocal belting. The bass line and percussion bounces along loosely while the guitar shits all over the place. No THANKS!

Speaking of Trouble, I've succumbed to the temptation (of the Devil), and got out the French Vanilla Ice Cream.  Oh damn! Forgive me lord, for I am weak! 

 
(about to crack open the French Vanilla, also know as "Pudding From Heaven")


Every Grain of Sand- 4 OK friends... welcome to the first documented dessert indulgence of Dinner With Dylan. I just scooped myself a healthy glob of Pudding From Heaven (y'know, French Vanilla). It's time to CELEBRATE the birth of BOB DYLAN with some fine desserts! Which reminds me, as we wind down this religious trilogy, never once have we said "Grace." So, please, bow your heads as I'm about to scoop this Vanilla down my gullet.

Bless us Father Dylan for this cream, with sugar, of which I am about to receive from Stop N Shop through aid of a spoon. Through Zim, our entertainer, Amen.

Thank you all. Now with this CLASSIC later period song. Preacher Zimmerman finally concludes his religious trilogy with this 6 minute piano limp that wouldn't sound far out of place in a Hallmark commercial. At it's core, there's a beautifully lush quality hiding in some dated production. The lyrics are flat out brilliant, weaving imagery through long verse, something we haven't seen from Dylan since he was still into hanging with Satan in those Godforsaken smoke-filled East Village cafes. Excellent closer, and proof that Dylan might have been Saved... if only just slightly!



Well, thank you everyone for hanging with the infamous Dylan religious trilogy... Thank you to my wife for the Quorn dish.  It may not be the last time we see it!

(a different Korn spelled incorrectly.... for reference only)


Join me next time as we continue the slow walk through the '80s, as Dylan leaves the church behind him and returns to a more conventional career with 1983's Infidels.  See ya!


("Jesus, it's been fun. But I gotta run"- Bob Dylan venturing on into the 80s)


and once more!!!..


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Saved (1980)

Saved
(1980, Columbia Records)



MY DINNER

Vegan Polish style Kishka! umm... what the fuck?

Well...come back to another installment of Dinner with Dylan! Course number 20. If you're still hanging on by a thread to these albums, and meals, I thank you. If you're dropping in for the first time, welcome to the Doozy Zone. Because we are trapped in the throes of being SAVED!

Gather round my sons and daughters, let's talk about one Robert Zimmerman; born on the cold shores of Lake Superior, he ascended into East Village folk superstardom, and slowly descended into the maddening snake hole of the early '80s.

For those keeping track on your Bingo cards, this is Dylan's 2nd of his religious trilogy... After laying on the religion pretty thick with Slow Train Coming, Dylan figured why not just drop his listeners into a dunk tank full of holy water?

(the record buying public at large shouting "we didn't ask for this!")

An LP SO religious, Columbia was eventually like, "Hey Bob, we're gonna scale back that fucking cover, goddammit?" to which Zimmy replied "Do not take the Lord's name in veeeeeeeiiiiiin! Ahhhh, hooooowwwww does it feeeeellll?" in his wheezy goat voice.

(the reissued cover, the one your father probably bought on CD at Nobody Beats the Wiz, before they were beaten by other electronic retailers)

Yes, as you can see from the original cover, a giant finger seems to be electrocuting smaller fingers. Some would call this the Lord, God, Jesus... a higher power of one's faith. The reissued cover is basically an oil painting of Bob Dylan that someone smeared greasy McMuffin wrappers over. I don't see the connection, but such is the path to getting SAVED on a major label.


If you couldn't get enough of the bland funk, reggae, roots rock that controlled Dylan's first overtly religious LP, then Saved is going to BLOW... YOUR... FUCKING... MIND!

(a fan who misses the bland funk)

YOU SEE, because Saved is a flat-out Gospel record full of many soft rock moments, sans the rollicking title track and "Rock Solid." Yes, Gospel with a capital G with a dash of Get-up and Go funk and religious rock and roll with lowercase Rs.

On this LP, we further watch one of the most prolific voices of the past 15 years drift into a strange oblivion of continuing to be born again. Coming off the 70 date "gospel" tour following the release of Slow Train Coming, Dylan entered the studio with his backing band to lay down the new Gospel according to Zimmy, further baffling fans and making Popes weep.


PICTURES OF POPES WEEPING DURING SAVED LISTENING PARTIES

"Love it"- a Pope

"This is everything Abbey Road is not"- a pope

"I'm not crying. You're crying"- Pope Pranks II


Meanwhile, as we listen to Bob Dylan pigeonhole himself into a weird gospel corner, let's talk briefly about tonight's main course. As usual, my wife has prepared this. I feel like I've given up at cooking during every Dinner With Dylan these days (months... years?), but I will get back to it.

(How my wife treats me during Dinner With Dylan time)

I am, forever grateful of her delicious meals. Tonight, I'm eating an accidental creation of hers we've deemed Vegan Polish Kishka (sometimes spelled Keeshka). For anyone who doesn't know what kishka is, good for you. Me, however, growing up a portly Polish kid, consumed it often as my dad would make it for breakfast. It's a mishmash of buckwheat, barley, and blood sausage stuffed in an delicious intestine. WELL, since I don't eat that stuff no more, and it is somehow delicious, she constructed a meal of finely chopped grilled onions, garlic, Vegan mock beef crumbles, and polenta.  Sure to be interesting!

Now bow your heads, my children, and let's all get SAVED! together.



SIDE A:
A Satisfied Mind- Dylan kicks things off with a sparse, tent carnival show type religious awakening song. As if taking place in the middle of campground with several session players from the local church, Dylan leads the hymns as the gospel girls carry a wispy melody in the back. Dylan is basically hi-fiving God all over this thing, but musically, it's a great departure from that sweat inducing, stanky funk of Slow Train Coming. Pretty, pretty great opener... Even if the lyrics are pretty much "CONVERT YO' SELF ALREADY!"


(Albert Einstein is an example of an unsatisfied mind, as well as someone most rightwing Christians don't believe in, I think)


Saved- If you want to pinpoint an exact moment a star explodes, and fades away, listen to the second this song kicks in. Dylan, now in an extreme religious fervor has been taken away from us. There he goes, up to the clouds, Eucharist in mouth, strange oils upon his forehead. This is a raucous jamboree that really gets the blood flowing, causing listeners to succumb to delusions of religious grandeur. Still, this may be the punkest things Dylan put out since the '60s, and for the liner notes to say nothing of the liberty spikes and studs he sported in the studio during its recording is just a sin!


(an example of something being saved)

(another example of something being saved)

Real quick on my dinner... HOT DAMN, this really does taste an awful lot like kishka. Yes my Eastern European friends, if you miss the taste of pig's blood and buckwheat on your vegetarian palate, have we found the cure. Congratulations, you're SAVED!  It's quite salty, the onions adding a nice spice reminiscent of kishka. The cornmeal of the polenta sits in as a quick substitute for the buckwheat and the vegan crumbles add to the mouthfeel and blood flavor without drinking blood!

(Fact: Every Sunday, parents let their kids drink wine at church and tell them it's BLOOD, and everyone's cool with it!)

Covenant Woman- Rock music can be a filth pit for sure. Sometimes, it's nice to see a little piece of music safe for that special auntie and uncle in your life. Later in the decade, Whitesnake would be all "She's my cherry pie," but Dylan's like "Hey world... This song is 'Covenant Woman'," and the crowds fell silent in awe. Okay, this song is a bland blanket of building rootsy rock that's good for a quick spirit cleansing during drives down sinful roadways.

(an example of a haunted roadway on which one could listen to gospel rock music and feel better about having once sinned...)


What Could I Do For You?- Pack it up, Zimmy, that's what.... Har har har... Just kidding, Father Zimmy. Keep the mid-tempo gospel rock grooving. It ain't hurting nothin', except your record sales. Here, like "Covenant Woman," Dylan seems hell-bent on putting his audience to sleep with some bland incidental rock saturated with holy water. Another great example of a rock song to bring to the dinner table for the whole family to enjoy.

Meanwhile, my vegan kishka's got me doing a wild one-man polka in my head. So tasty. So salty! I may just shut this off an put on some accordion driven novelty oom-pah records!

(A classic. Note "Keeshka" spelled with different letters!!!)


Solid Rock- 4 Finally, some real rock music as specified by its title. Robert Dylerman wouldn't lie to us. He's a solid Christian now... Well, let me tell you. This song ROCKS.  Compared to the last couple songs, its like Dylan's take on Judas Priest... but with backing female soul singers. Not exactly FRESH, but damn it's the SECOND most punk moment on the record.  It also occurs to me now that the "rock" in the title is a biblical allusion. Dylan's literary stylings were about as fresh as a fart in a hurricane at this point, but that wouldn't stop him from bringing home the Nobel Prize for literature some 26 years later. 


SIDE B:
Pressing On- "Pressing On" is a perfect song to open Side B because if you're still hanging on to the record at this point, you might as well just convert. Okay, to be fair, this tune opens with a piano, which is a very popular instrument throughout time. Things begin to swell as a kick drum begins keeping time.  Dylan acts the part of preacher while the backing singers provide the uplifting gospel backbone. Eventually, this track morphs into some roots rock Planet Waves territory. Dig that double time drumming that pops in toward the end. Song is a bucket of cheese, but I'm into a fair amount of cheeses, and also dig this song! May melt your soul.

(Gouda is an example of one cheese which I enjoy)

In the Garden- Dylan continues to read up on his Bible stories, speaking of Jesus getting taken from the garden, lead to crucifixion, which eventually lead Americans to Easter hams. The organ on this song has some accidental psych rock quality at times, as the song begins to swell. Other than that, another mundane mid-tempo rocker full of gospel loving roots. Grab a pillow and take nap until the next song, where you will proceed to wake up, look around, only to fall asleep again.

(Pope SAVES a child's hearing as someone walks past the Vatican blasting Saved)

Saving Grace- Good Lord Jesus. Bland bland bland. Unlike this kishka dish! See during some of these 5 minute rockers, I've scarfed down 4 dishes of this thing. And you may be thinking, hey it don't look all that good, dude." Well you would not be wrong. BUT, here's what kishka looks like in its normal state...

(in the wild)

Now, that's pretty gross. But tasty... Give it a try! 

Meanwhile, this dragging song..... Holy hell does this drag ass.
 
(An visual example of dragging ass).
My review for this will be fifteen lines of blank space so you can get a true sense of how exciting this nearly 6 minute rock gospel dirge really is...
















Finally, the song has ended. As has my dinner. Boy, I'm getting love handles as we speak.

("In the James Bond film A View to Kill, Grace Jones played a villain, and therefore was not a perfect example of a saving Grace," says film critic Leonard Maltball)


Are You Ready- The title seems to beg the question "Are You Ready (For This Album to End)" but unfortunately it's entirely about being ready to meet Jesus. Do you know how I know this? Dylan blatantly says it, along with being ready for other things such as seas parting, and other religious ranting. It's nice to see Dylan is able to turn a gospel rock song into such a scummy sweat factory on the drop of a dime. May God have mercy on ours souls...


That's all folks!

(John Boehner upset his favorite record has ended after listening to Saved in the Capitol with Joe Biden and the Pope of Rock N Roll)



Stay tuned for the final album in Bob Dylan's love letter to Jesus... Shot of Love.   While shot of love may sound more like an AC/DC album title, and a pretty obvious allusion to male ejaculation, it's actually Dylan's third gospel rock tribute album in his trilogy. See y'all soon. Keep the faith! 

("It's ok, kid. There's one more Christian Rock Dylan album left, and it's coming soon!"- the Pope to a Dylan fan.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Slow Train Coming (1979)

Slow Train Coming
(1979, Columbia Records)


MY DINNER


(Tilapia with béarnaise sauce along with a side of roasted corn and cojita cheese) 


So, it's the late '70s, and Bob Dylan is still at it... Don't worry, he ain't giving up anytime soon. In fact, he's still playing at the time of this writing! Did you kids know that? As the '80s were rapidly approaching, Dylan had undergone some changes. Sure, maybe he'd lost his sunglasses, along with his poetic rebellion, his all encompassing protest persona, the Rimbaud for a new generation thing, his band The Band, those country roots folk feels, and his wife, but he was still Bob "Robert Zimmerman" Dylan. And here at Dinner with Dylan, that's good enough for me, goshdarnnit (I will refrain from using the Lord's name in vein for the next 3 reviews, thank you very much... Not enough rosary beads in the house for that kind of penance). 

Speaking of the Lord, we arrive at Dylan's 19th studio LP Slow Train Coming, the first of Father Bob's Born-Again-Christian trilogy. Once a man of who thumbed his nose at conformity, Dylan grabbed hold of Jesus in the late '70s and didn't let go (until the early '80s that is). Following a series of traumatic events, including a custody battle over his children, a failed gospel rock Japanese tour, and scathing reviews over his film Renaldo and Clara, Dylan fell hard for the Lord. As the story goes, Dylan announced at a concert in Syracuse, NY in September 1978, saying he'd been "tapped on the shoulder" by Jesus (actual quote). The two were inseparable for the next few records, and the world is a stranger place because of it.


Following the wheezy, baffling production of Street Legal, Dylan was at another career crossroads of stylistic choices and beliefs. The LP was originally composed for back-up vocalist, Carolyn Dennis, with Dylan intending to produce. However, Dylan figured, "I wrote this... Let me finish what I started" (not an actual quote). Produced by Jerry Wexler at famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, the LP marks on of the crummiest states Dylan ever recorded a record in.

Other things Alabama is famous for:
This guy

A gross college football fan

and memes that also work well for Slow Train Coming

I kid... I kid.  Alabama is a fine state, full of fine people. Hell, I'm from NJ.... where we have this.


Chris Christie is the devil.



This album is also notable for a couple of other fun facts. It's the first in which Bob Dylan ditched his guitar, focusing only on vocal tracks according to some sources (others have him playing on certain songs, so WHATEVER for that first fun fact). Also, the LP features members of Dire Straits as a his backing band (the first of several LP appearances by Mark Knopfler on guitar)... So there's that for bar trivia night.


As for the cover, it's actually pretty damn cool in my humble opinion. It's the first LP cover not to feature a rendering of Zimmy Dylan on it since Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. That cover had TEXT!
I know what you're thinking. What about Planet Waves? Well, thought the same thing until I took a closer look.  SEE.....






Right? I know! It's like, how did we miss that all along?!? I'm sure some of you diehard have noticed but, whoa! Blew my mind!

Speaking of mind-blowing, let's touch on my dinner for a minute. Don't actually touch it because a.) it's unsanitary to do so, and b.) what are you doing in my apartment?  For tonight, my loving wife who makes sure I stay overweight, has prepared a plate of Tilapia topped with rich béarnaise sauce. On the side, we have some scrumptious roasted corn topped with cojita cheese. It's from Trader Joe's and came out of a bag.  Since we're diving into the religious side of things, only feels appropriate for this pescatarian to dabble in fish, especially since we are in the tight grip of Lent. Now if only I could turn this tap water into wine, I'd turn this one man party on its (my) head... (and I'd probably be rich). 

Mass is now in session. The Pastor Dylan presides.

SIDE A:
Gotta Serve Somebody- "We are gathered here today in praise of all things cool and rock n roll, AMEN." These are not the opening lyrics to Dylan's LP, but just simply something I put in quotation marks. In fact, if you've come looking for rock n roll, you've come to the wrong place. That shite hasn't been around since like Blonde on Blonde, you one dimensional sin monger. Here, Reverend Dylan starts things out with some dated, funk blues jam. Like a sexy cop, walking the cool beat, this has some steamy late night ick to it.

"Gotta Serve Somebody" plays in this guy's head when busting crooks, doctors say.


It's like a whole new Dylan, a baffling departure from the music he was releasing some 3 years prior. It's sweaty, and gross, and yet wholly appropriate. Really, it's a nice companion piece to most of The Rolling Stones Some Girls album, but unlike Keith Richard's codeine and heroin induced hallucinations, Dylan actually thought he was touched by Jesus. Also, the song contains the line "you may call me Zimmy." Well, Zimmy, I often do! Thank you for the approval.

(another Dead Beat Dad is served a subpoena.  Photo evidence of the great Dylan custody battle sessions of the late '70s, some theologians believe).

Precious Angel- Angels are not real. It's been proven by science. But most people think science is liberal nerd shit these days, so score one for the angels.

(although, YouTube evidence exists of an Angel, apparently falling off a ride at Action Park)

Dylan gets back to some bland strumming folk rock. The whole track breathes, sounding particularly airy due to the driving piano. Dylan begs the heavens "shine the light on me," and alludes to being saved throughout the whole song. The entire affair is pretty steady, building in dynamics slowly throughout. Dylan sounds impassioned vocally, loving the Lord, even when taking (holy) water breaks. Bottom line; it's pretty decent Dad rock (for the angels in all of us).

Alright, so two songs in. Time to talk dinner... I didn't dabble through the sweaty funk, because I didn't want to sweat this béarnaise sauce from my pores. "Precious Angel" seemed like a good time to take a taste. Speaking of angel, my wife really did a bang up job preparing this meal. The tilapia is baked perfectly, still moist and quite meaty. The béarnaise is a bit off kilter here but compliments this legendary bland fish nicely. And this roast corn... Wow. Food from a bag is where it truly is at!

I Believe In You- At one time, a simple Dylan title like this could be analyzed by scholars and listeners alike, inspected with a literary fine-toothed comb for meaning, allegory, word structure. But it's clear with this album what Dylan really believes in; yes, Santa, and the miracle of Christmas. No wait, that's the wrong album. Stay tuned for the year 2009 for that Xmas album review! In the meantime, Dylan penned this steady ballad, one that's rather beautifully constructed and delicately played throughout. I believe this song is a bag of sap in some ways, and in others I can't get enough of it. I also believe there was a second gunman and that Bigfoot is real.


(Proof from the government, exhibit A... can't argue with proof)

Wow, this fish is so good, I'm going back for seconds. As for the roasted corn, must eat in moderation. It's addictive. The cojita cheese really spices it up... or more SALTS it up. Cojita cheese is a cheese of Mexican origin that serves little other purpose than to make things salty. If that's the case, step aside salt shaker. You're dead to me.

(me throwing away salt, after this meal is over...an artist's rendition)

Slow Train- After two acoustic lead, somewhat touching songs, Reverend Dylan ups the humidity in the room and things get all sweaty and stinky again. LORD, open a window! The song is carried by its funk grooving bass and drum lock all while the backup singers soulfully pop up, the organ rings off the hook, and the horns jab in to say "let's get sexxxy." This is one dang-a-lang blues rock number that eventually starts to sound as if it almost makes sense over its 6 minute run time. The Rev. Zimmy sounds great vocally on this too, equal parts disdain, dismay, and dis....ciple of the LORD.


SIDE B:
Gotta Change My Way of Thinking- 2 I've basically worked my way through my meal at this point... Just a little bit of tilapia left to run lovingly through this rich, creamy béarnaise sauce. And the corn?  Forget it. It's gone, but as human bowel movements usually prove, not forgotten. Ewww, what? Moving on.

Well, after the old "COOL" Bob Dylan got backed into a corner and sort of lost his mind, he had no choice but to change his way of thinking; less like a beat poet, more like a divorced Dad from Middle America. Unfortunately, Dylan didn't change his way of playing sweaty, boring funky blues rock from Side A. If anything, this is his version of sweat funk on steroids. If you wanna hear Dylan snarling about Jesus creating the earth in a bar rock atmosphere, you've come to the right altar. Side B's opener is a weak, horn filled stomper that gets locked in a dead groove and can't dig its way out. You know what did find it's way out? Jesus' body, from his tomb. And that's why we have Easter.

(Jesus is like a fine yeast; always rising)

Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)-Here, Reverend Zimmy comes at this one from an interesting angle; It's a classic combo of "Don't mess with me girl" meets and "What Would Jesus Do?" The whole thing is about as fun showing up at Sunday school on a Snow Day. More funky blues rock stylings, although there's some chill ass guitar picking going on in the mix. Also, I'm sorry I used the phrase "chill ass" around the Lord, and any of you readers for that matter. For that, I will repent. 

When You Gonna Wake Up?- 3 Okay, the fish is gone... The dinner a thing of past. Amen. I promise for the next entry, we will begin the dinner by saying Grace. How thoughtless of me. When am I gonna wake up?

Oh wait, that's practically the name of the song! Good question Reverend Bob. If you wanna hear a song that references Jesus in the first line while implementing an undeniable '70s groove used to court someone in between the sheets, look no further. The song is saved (no pun) by the distant horns jabs and swells, along with the simple solution of picking up the drums to double time during the verse. Saves this incredible strange, bland track from being a bog of Jesus referencing swamp ass.

(A great chance for Jesus to reference a Bob Dylan song)

Man Gave Names To All Animals- Who would've thought we'd get to this song title back in the hip acid lovin', dope smokin' days of 1960-something and whenever? This ain't "Maggie's Farm" no more. This is Father Dylan leading some sort of dub style, low grade funk band into first grade religious nursery rhyme land. So strange, it's certainly a "must hear" track. One of the most hated Dylan songs of the catalog. It really does make you stop and think "Good Lord, what the in God's name is this, for Heaven's sake?!?" On a positive note, there really are a lot of great animals in the world, all of which I will name in alphabetical order now....
 YUP!  That's all of them!  Also begs the question, what the fuck is a "zorilla?"



(Scientists agree that most animals were named by the late, great Steve Irwin, it is believed)


When He Returns- Well, after a funkadelic, gospel, reggae assault all about Jesus for the past 40 odd minutes, it's refreshing that this album closes things down with this piano/vocal ballad. Dylan shines like a light from Heaven while the piano sounds like God's tears. It's all incredibly strong, however. Dylan's religious propaganda soaked lyrics are baffling, as is this whole phase of his career, but a fitting ending to the LP.


Well, that was some journey. Together, we got Saved... Then, we named all the animals together. What a strange and miraculous trip it has been, folks. Join me next time as we really get SAVED again!.... when we tackle the full-on Zim gospel record Saved. 

Until then, I leave you with one of Dylan's most famous quotes from these era:
"To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong."- Bob Dylan.