Saturday, 29 November 2008

Bob Dylan>Saved

I fear I've been duped. Actually I'm a little annoyed because I was stupid enough to listen to others without checking it out myself - I should have known better than that. The word 'out there' was that Saved - one of only 3 Dylan albums I don't have (others are Knocked Out Loaded and Down in the Groove) - was a terrible album. I'd heard it wasn't worthy of the great man, it was far too full of evangelical zeal to bear listening to - simply it was as bad as Self Portrait and I already knew that was a disaster. So I never bothered with it. I even didn't consider any Saved track for my 'Dylanity'.

Well, let me tell you right now, having spent time with this album myself - this is a great album - it's better than New Morning, Street Legal, Planet Waves, Infidels, Nashville Skyline and Another Side without a shadow of a doubt. It's certainly as good as Desire, Oh Mercy and Slow Train. It's a fine piece of work and I know why it's so good - because it's great gospel.

For me, it's all about context with Dylan. The context for Saved is that Dylan is doing gospel and he does it like the genius he is - stunningly. It appears that most Dylan connoisseurs admit that his so called 'Christian phase' was a time when he was really on top of his game during live performances. YouTube clips like the one below would bear that out. This hit home again in the film 'I'm Not There' with 'Pressing On' proving to be a real high point.

So I ask myself why Saved has got such a bad reputation - why it's slandered and written off as a waste of time? I'd like to think it was more than narrow-mindedness on the part of so called 'liberal' atheists. That it actually had something to do with the songs! But now I've seen the light I'm just not sure what to think. Instead I'll slip Saved into the CD player and 'press on to the higher calling of my Lord.'

15 comments:

Country Gardener said...

I've been listening to this one recently too, and find it very good. I certainly like it better than Slow Train. Excellent gospel stuff, well produced, and so listenable. Nice to see somebody else appreciating it too.

RJ said...

Oh, Nick, thanks for your reclaiming this albulm. Waay waay back when I was ordained, my little band did "Saved" (one of my all time favorite Dylan gospel tunes) along with Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up" and Sweet Honey in the Rock's "Good News" for the start of my ordination worship (1982). I, too, have felt it was one of his best if you affirmed the context; and while a lot of hipsters who were down on the church hated this albulm, I thought it was rockin' sweet. And I still do. Bless you, brother. (Thanks for the kind words re: our show, too!)

brunocat said...
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brunocat said...

The real pressing was from Columbia Records on Bob to dismiss ASAP the religion contents. I'm atheist nevertheless i always found "Saved" a gorgeous album. Solid Rock, Saving Grace, Saved, In The Garden, Pressing On, Covenant Woman are masterpieces. The Toronto Massey Hall concert was outstanding, among the best lives he ever made.
I can only suggest to listen (or watch in DVD) to Gotta Serve Somebody - The gospel songs of Bob Dylan, where gospel singers performs many songs from this period.

Sean McA said...

I've always loved SAVED since 1st hearing it back in the mid-'80's. Wht has it such a bad reputation? No idea. Btw, Dylan does some of his best harmonica work on this album also.

Nick Coke said...

Thanks Brunocat for the tip about 'Gotta Serve Somebody' - the gospel album. On the back of getting into Saved I bought it and you're right it is excellent.

Don E. said...

Since 1965, I've bought Bob Dylan albums as they have been released. I dismissed "Saved" when it came out, and as a result, never bought the CD and didn't listen to the record. I was well aware of "In the Garden" from a couple of live performances I own, but little else. When "I'm Not There" came out, I was really taken by "Pressing On." That drove me back to "Saved." I bought the CD through I-Store, and now I listen to it constantly. It has become one of my favorite Dylan albums. It's excellent, top to bottom.

dylandevotional said...

http://dylangospel.blogspot.com/

http://www.gottaservesomebody.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AWgnsYECLo&feature=channel_page

Singing Bear said...

This has always been one of all time favourite Dylan albums. It has been attacked by the liberal left (of which I am one, on the whole) because of Bob's faith and nothing else. The music and performances are stunning. Glad you've found out now! So many, so called, 'critics' listen with all their prejudices.

S.K said...

Growing up in church I´ve always loved gospel. "Saved" was one of the first Dylan-albums I bought when I started to listen to him in the early nineties, even though I had read a lot of bad stuff about it.

Many years later I still listening to it (listening right now, btw). The songs are excellent musically, maybe the lyrics aren´t masterpices poetically, but people who complain about the lyrics on "Saved" usually don´t complain about the country-clich├ęs on "Nashville Skyline" and goofy lyrics like "If Dogs Run Free".

The album has some minor flaws though; maybe the songs should be released on a live-album instead. But personally I prefer "Saved" and "Shot Of Love" over "Infidels" and even "Desire". (I know "Desire" is considered a "classic" but I think songs like "Saving Grace" and "Solid Rock" are far better than "Mozambique" and "Joey".) And ... I actually like the lyrics. If you can see beyond the all the biblethumping it´s about a man who had lost his way, but found it again. Listen especially to "What Can I Do For You?", "Saving Grace" and "Pressing On"!

And I think, to this day, Dylan still plays the songs from "Slow Train", "Shot Of Love" and "Saved", doesn´t he?

Nick Coke said...

Thanks for the comment SK. You're right about Dylan still playing songs from 'Slow Train' in his concerts - during the last month he's opened a couple of shows with 'Gotta Serve Somebody' and 'I Believe in You' has made a couple of setlists. Unfortunately, he didn't play them when I saw him in London at the weekend but I'd love to hear him play 'Pressing On' - that's a mighty song!

Mr. X said...
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Mr. X said...

Now, I'm pretty relgious for my age, and I get into countless arguments with my atheist friends, but to be quite honest, this album is Bob Dylan's worst. Why? Because it's generic. Bob Dylan's classic albums, "The Freewheelin'", "Another Side", "Brining It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited", "Blonde on Blonde", "John Wesley Harding", "Blood on the Tracks" and "Desire" were great because they were pushing musical boundaries. "Slow Train Coming", Bob Dylan's first Christian record, is also a near-masterpiece, because there are subtle changes in the music and is actually musically diverse: reggae, blues, jazz, rock, etc. But "Saved" is just extremely formulaic gospel with roots rock backing. I'm not slamming gospel - I wouldn't be very fond of Aretha Franklin if I found myself doing that, but Bob Dylan just doesn't "cut the mustard", as they say. Not to mention that the lyrics are pretty much standard "born again" stuff. What happened to intellectual metaphorical phrases that needed to be put together in order to understand the meaning of the song. That's what Bob Dylan made special. This is, like I said, generic.

I love what you're doing, trying to promote your faith through music that does likewise, but there are better ways to express this than the generic route, like Bob Dylan's two other Christian records, and even some non-Christian records that can be re-interpreted otherwise.

mondal said...

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