Infidels was Bob Dylan’s 1983 album release and it brought a sigh of relief from legions of his fans. He had returned to the secular world and left his Christian fundamentalist teachings behind. While the album returns him to messages of protest and social concerns, they are just as hard hitting and passionate as his previous religious views. They would find favor with the album buying public as it would be his biggest selling release of the 1980’s.
The backing band would be one of the best Dylan would employ. Mark Knopfler would co-produce the album and bring his guitar along, acting as a contributing musician as well. Mick Taylor, formally of The Rolling Stones, would also be a featured guitarist. Taylor has a talent of melding his blues/rock sound with just about any guitarist he chooses and he and Knopfler form a formidable pair. Sly & Robbie make up the rhythm section and combine their reggae influenced musicianship into a successful and unique union of styles.
Dylan recorded a lot of material for this album and three superior tracks were left off the final issue only to appear on the Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 several years later. “Blind Willie McTell” or Mc Tell) may very well be the best song that he created during the 1980s. “Tell Me” and “Foot Of Pride” are almost as good. There is no knowing why these tracks were left off and others included in the final release but they show Dylan back creating a large number of great songs.
“Jokerman” clocks in at over six minutes and is filled with so much imagery that it is difficult to decipher. This is one of those meandering songs that touch the ground every once in awhile but then floats away again. “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight” ends the album and is a good choice to do so. After the intense messages of the proceeding songs this gentle love tune is a good way to clear the mind and relax.
In between these two tracks we find a socially conscious Dylan. “Union Sundown” is great rock ‘n’ roll and a scathing criticism of sweatshops and Capitalism. “Neighborhood Bully” is a passionate defense of the nation of Israel. “License To Kill” finds Dylan tackling environmental issues.
Infidels is an album that gets better with age. I enjoy it more now than when it was originally released. It contains a strong set of songs that put Dylan back on the right track.