RANKING BOB DYLAN’S 39 STUDIO ALBUMS- #34: SAVED [1980}

Saved (Bob Dylan album) - Wikipedia

Ranking Bob Dylan’s 39 studio albums- #34- Bob Dylan’s 20th studio album release- Saved [1980} 2 1/2 stars.

Bob Dylan’s nearly sixty year career has at times been highly controversial- his going electric in the mid-60s and turning his back on the folk movement immediately comes to mind. But the most controversial- to this day with some people period of his career was his “Christian Trilogy” of albums which began with the release of Slow Train Coming- on August 20, 1979. I will cover Slow Train Coming sometime in the coming months- it is an album I have from the first listen 41 years ago to today -have loved. The second album in the “Christian Trilogy”-came rather quickly- ten months later with Saved. The album was produced by the same guys who produced Slow Train Coming- Barry Beckett and the legendary Jerry Wexler. The problem I have always had with Saved- in comparison to Slow Train Coming- is the songs on Saved- are not up to par with the songs Dylan wrote for Slow Train Coming.

I had a sneak peak on hearing Saved. The first concert I ever went to was Bob Dylan at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh on May 14, 1980. This was in the days before the internet but the world was certainly out that you weren’t going to be hearing “Like A Rolling Stone” or “Blowin’ In The Wind” on this tour. Dylan would be playing his Christian music. When I saw Dylan was coming I didn’t care what he was going to play I wanted to see him. My friend Dan who was also Dylan crazed went with me. We had both loved Slow Train Coming. Dylan would play a number of those songs that night and some we weren’t familiar with- from the upcoming album. That night there were a number of people walking out after a few songs- I can recall them throwing their hands up into the air and yelling something towards the stage and then turning and leaving. They were upset with the song selection-what were they expecting? Dan and I both thought the concert was great.

When the album came out a little over a month later- I bought the album and for the past 40 years have always had issues with it. I was never one of those fans who somehow felt ‘betrayed” by Dylan’s turning Christian and recording those three albums. I have always admired Dylan as an artist because he was never a trend follower- he did his own thing no matter what was popular at the moment. As I mentioned earlier I have always felt the songs on Saved weren’t that strong. Maybe he should have given that follow up to Slow Train Coming- a little more time. These songs seem to be more preaching a sermon, more harsh and judgmental. I also didn’t care as much for the production of this album. Slow Train Coming is one of the best produced albums of Dylan’s career- it sounds great. I have always found the production on Saved to be kind of a hard listen. I must say that the box set The Bootleg Series: Vol. 13 Trouble No More 1979-81 represents this music better- the songs sounded better live in concert [which I thought at the Pittsburgh concert}

Saved received poor reviews- and even to this day I have seen some rankings of Dylan’s albums which ranks it as his worst album. I wouldn’t go that far- it is for Dylan a mediocre album but does have some high points- my favorite songs on the album- the title track-“Saved”, “Solid Rock” and “In The Garden.” While I have never warmed up to the album it’s not terrible. After Slow Train Coming- it was a disappointment.

Note- the album cover. Bob Dylan has had some terrible looking album covers over the years- I should someday rank them but the album cover for Saved is at least on the Mount Rushmore of Bad Dylan album covers. Of course you can’t judge an album by it’s cover[or a book by its cover} but it has always puzzled me- how little interest he seems at times to take on the album cover.

16 responses to “RANKING BOB DYLAN’S 39 STUDIO ALBUMS- #34: SAVED [1980}

  1. Yesterday I looked at some other rankings of Dylan albums. One of the lists I saw has this on it as last…I agree with you…it’s not his worst. In The Garden alone lifts it up a bit. I really like that song.

    • I was thinking today- while i was walking and listening to the album I will probably pick at #33- at this point on the albums I will be choosing from- I like them all to some degree- of course some better than others. …Saved isn’t close to being the worst!

    • No it wasn’t the worst…I think some of it was because of the mixture between Dylan and the religious songs…that’s just me… but some people didn’t like that direction.

      At one time in time people picked Self Portrait to be the worst…I don’t agree with that either…now at the time it was released…that could have been a valid point maybe….because of what came before…but in time it wasn’t that bad at all.

    • I think some people are still upset over his going that direction- it was 40 years ago they need to give it up. I really liked two of those three albums- Saved I am kind of neutral on……. I think on Self Portrait which has been rehabilitated- at the moment he was seen as the voice of a generation- and it was an album of covers- he was in a period of writers block. people were disappointed but i think treating the album as it is- while not a classic by any means- it’s OK- I like it…

    • Yes I look at Self Portrait as a historical piece. It is nice to hear Dylan cover those now with hindsight. I do like it…I thought of that album when I saw Dylan and Simon tour together…I think of Bob’s cover of The Boxer.

    • The Self Portrait album was featured a few years back in Bob’s bootleg series releases- which gave it a big boost in critical acclaim and a revision in thinking.

    • I’m glad that hindsight helped it’s reputation and it was turned around.

      When I first read about it in the 80s it was dogged…so I got it and I liked it…didn’t love it but I couldn’t see the reputation it got.

  2. I just thought of something. Bob is Jewish, yet he is singing the Christian story. Any thoughts on that? Also, it *is* interesting that he took little interest in some of the album covers but others he painted. In the Garden sounds OK here. It’s good to know that the Christian albums of his are out there as from time to time I need that kind of boost. I also like Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Blvd because of its redemptive tone.

    • Check out Van Morrison’s Into The Music- it came out around the same time as Dylan’s Slow Train Coming- – I like Slow Train Coming- but Van’s spiritual album is even better. Dylan tends to hit you over the head with his religion. Yes he was born jewish and converted in 1978 – I don’t know what religion he follows at the moment.

    • That’s so interesting about his conversion as I thought Judaism was not only a religion but a race. I’ve know people who have converted to Judaism but never from Judaism to Christianity. Van isn’t one of my favorites, sorry, I know it’s sacrilege to say that.

  3. Pingback: RANKING BOB DYLAN’S 39 STUDIO ALBUMS- #34: SAVED [1980} — slicethelife (Reblog) – The Midlode Mercury·

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