Bob Dylan dives into the vaults again today (November 3) for Trouble No More — The Bootleg Series Vol. 12/1979-1981.
Dylan watchers know this was one of the most controversial periods of his career, when the rock icon, who was raised Jewish, became born again and embraced Christianity, which informed the albums Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980) and Shot Of Love (1981).
The new box set features a treasure trove of unreleased material from the period, including live recordings, outtakes and previously unheard songs.
Fred Tackett, who played guitar for Dylan during the tours to promote the albums and on Saved and Shot Of Love, tells us that despite the lyrical content the actual making of the music was not really different than Dylan’s secular work:
“He was definitely talking about the subject matter of the tunes, but he wasn’t proselytizing. We didn’t have to pass any kind of religious test. He was teaching us the songs for ‘Saved,’ and at the time he was basically writing those songs and teaching them to the band. That’s what we were practicing…He didn’t seem concerned whether we knew the gospel he talked about, and the girl singers who were the cream of the gospel girl singer crop, were all very religious girls, so they were talking with Bob all the time, so there was a conversation going on, about being born again and this and that and all that.”
Trouble No More also includes Trouble No More: A Musical Film, featuring previously unreleased footage from Dylan’s 1980 tour.
Dylan is currently touring North America, ironically not playing any material from the three Christian albums.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.