Highly Appreciated

Infidels  is the twenty-second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on October 27, 1983 by Columbia Records.  Produced by Mark Knopfler and Dylan himself, Infidels is seen as his return to secular music, following a conversion to Christianity, three evangelical gospel records, and a subsequent return to a less religious lifestyle.  Though he has never abandoned religious imagery, Infidels gained much attention for its focus on more personal themes of love and loss, in addition to commentary on the environment and geopolitics.  The critical reaction was the strongest for Dylan in years, almost universally hailed for its songwriting and performances.  The album also fared well commercially, reaching #20 in the US and going gold, and #9 in the UK.  (More from Wikipedia)



Following SavedShot of Love reintroduced secular themes into his music; but “Property of Jesus” is the center song on the first side.  Additionally, Infidels was viewed as a return to the “old” Bob Dylan by most; however, the title clearly has religious connotations – and might even represent a dagger toward his critics.  “Man of Peace” on this album – as in, “sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace” – could easily have fit onto one of the earlier albums. 


Wikipedia says that “Infidels is seen as his return to secular music, following a conversion to Christianity, three evangelical gospel records, and a subsequent return to a secular, culturally Jewish lifestyle” (whatever that is supposed to mean).  


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Infidels marked a change in musical direction for Bob Dylan with the addition of Jamaican rhythm section Sly & RobbieMark Knopfler returned for that album, and the personnel also included Mick Taylor, who was with the Rolling Stones from 1969 to 1974


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There was a noticeable dip in the ratings given by rock critics of Bob Dylan’s Christian recordings.  That was not true so much for Slow Train Coming – Robert Christgau of the Village Voice gave the album a B+ and wrote:  “The lyrics are indifferently crafted.  Nevertheless, this is his best album since Blood on the Tracks.  The singing is passionate and detailed.”  Allmusic and Rolling Stone both rated the album ***.  


For Savedthe Rolling Stone rating stood, but Allmusic gave the album only **, and Christgau scored it as C+.  Entertainment Weekly showed a C–.  Shot of Love had ** from both Rolling Stone and AllmusicChristgau and Entertainment Weekly showed B–.  


With Infidels though, all was forgiven:  Rolling Stone and Allmusic were both at ****.  


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Why did Bob Dylan quit recording Christian albums if he retains his Christian beliefs?  One factor is likely that all of this criticism directed at Bob Dylan stung – he is not as above it all as it might appear.  A quotation from Wikipedia that I read some months ago that is no longer in the article on Infidels states:  “It has been reported that reviews like these of Dylan’s religious works depressed the musician profoundly, inspiring Dylan’s comment at one concert that he was only referred to as a ‘prophet’ when he was a ‘secular prophet’ (paraphrased).”  


(August 2014)


Last edited: March 22, 2021