Although the word "hip" has never been in my vocabulary, "hip" is certainly not the way one could have described an album of Christian rock songs released in 1979, a time when popular music was dominated by New Wave and the decadance of disco. Bob Dylan wasn't concerned with such labels, one reason why he was (and remains) hipper than everybody. The critics be damned (in more ways than one, I suppose), Dylan was a man with a message who wasn't going to dilute it to curry favor with anyone.
And thank God for that because "Slow Train Coming" is a great, powerful album. Some critics, professional and amateur alike, dismiss these songs on the grounds that they're arrogant, but those same critics did not seem to mind Dylan's self-described "finger pointin'" when the message was secular. The fire and brimstone mentality might have been grating if not for the fact that, musically, Dylan is operating at full power, and, lyrically, he is obviously very sincere in his beliefs.
Whether sympathetic to the message or not, it's hard to believe anyone could not be moved by "I Believe In You" and "Precious Angel," delighted by "Man Gave Names to All the Animals," and overpowered by the dynamic "When He Returns." This album is right up there with his best work, and the follow-up, "Saved," is its equal, and may, in some ways, be even better.
Produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, this album is the most polished of any Dylan album. Mark Knopfler's fluid guitar licks add to the sonic delight of this first class effort.