Rachel B. from QUINCY, IL Reviewed on 5/13/2008...
Some very good songs but a baffling and perplexing album
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have a love-hate relationship with this album. On the one hand, there are several absolutely marvelous songs, some of the best that he wrote after BLOOD ON THE TRACKS. On the other, there are some songs that express the most conservative, reactionary positions of his career. For instance, "Neighborhood Bully" is an astonishingly ill-informed and almost willing one-sided defense of Israel, though it must be conceded that Dylan wrote the song before Israel intensified the building of settlements on the West Bank in Gaza in the eighties, a process that turned many former supporters of Israel against it. Even so, at the time Dylan wrote the song the world had seen over thirty years of Israeli territorial expansion into Palestinian areas. Yet, at the end of the song Dylan asks what Israel has done to incur the world's disapproval, and seems unable to come up with a single charge on the side of the prosecution. The song is disingenuous at the very least. Even stranger is "Union Sundown," which takes a very ambiguous stance on the ongoing decline of the union in the United States. For someone who sang songs about Joe Hill early in his career, it is an odd song indeed. And there is the equally strange "Man of Peace," which tells us that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace, but gives no clue as to when that is the case. Surely Dylan isn't saying that all men of peace are tools of Satan. One wonders what the real point of the song is or if it makes any point at all.
So, I have some serious misgivings about the album. Nonetheless, there are many stunning moments on the album. Despite my doubts about the overt Zionism of "Neighborhood Bully," it is a driving, powerful song with many wonderful lines. And "Union Showdown" is one of the hardest rocking songs of Dylan's career. But there are also a string of really great gentler songs. "Jokerman" is one of Dylan's finest songs of the eighties and possibly the highpoint of the album. "I and I" is a truly beautiful song, embellished by some wonderful guitar work by guest player Mark Knopfler. And "Sweetheart Like You" is one of Dylan's most ironic and sardonic conversations between a man and a woman. These are some powerful songs and while I think he has done a couple of albums since that are as good or better, I wouldn't argue too strongly against those who consider it his best post-BLOOD ON THE TRACKS album.
Luckily, the hints of conservativism that popped up on this album didn't persist. His next several albums saw him going back more and more to songs that focused on everyday individuals and not political powers or reactionary opinions. And while some saw him as perhaps influenced by Reagan, he had completely shuffled that off only a few years later. During the Bush years he has become almost as political as in his early years, choosing to perform a blistering version of "Masters of War" on the MTV Awards during the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Which is in a way another factor that makes this album so confusing. It is like he decided for a few months to take a more reactionary view of things. He didn't stay there, but its remarkable that he went there at all."
Beautiful and perplexing lyrics, but this album is something
Stephen Farone | 05/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with reviewers who find Infidels to be Dylan's return to from the Christian wasteland of soft lyrics he was lost in for the previous three albums. And I agree this is perhaps his best album since Blood on the Tracks, and better than several that came since. His lyrics and voice returned to a sharp critiques and soulful poetry with this album.
While all that is true, this album to me is something more, and its greatness is not found in its lyrics. This was the best band Bob Dylan had put together in many years. Dylan's band for these studio sessions was: Sly Dunbar on drums with Robbie Shakespeare on bass (Bob Marley's Wailers rhythm section), and Mick Taylor on guitar (the blues, rock and roll guitarist who played lead on those brilliant Rolling Stones albums of the early 70's). Hand this band a backlog of well crafted Dylan songs that were waiting for their day after his brief muted period of Christianity, and you end up with a Bob Dylan who sounds more excited and alive than he had in years.
This band lifted these songs and produced the kind of driving groove that Dylan's albums had been missing for years. You can hear Bob's voice and spirits lifted by the groove. Put this in your CD player, put it on repeat, and leave it there. You will have a great day."
Spiritual Overtones on this Super Rocker
Danielle Lane | Horseshoe, North Carolina | 04/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like my friends, I just love the pulsating power of this record. I also appreciate the way Dylan gets his spiritual message across without jamming it down your throat. "Jokerman" for me is reminiscent of "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and I can just picture a younger Dylan with those signs tossing them away during the singing of "Jokerman" the way he did in "Don't Look Back." I'm not a very spiritual person, but the biblical references in "Jokerman" did have me going to my Bible (everybody has one, religious or not, right?) and checking them out. Then there is "Sweetheart Like You," a song covered so well by Rod Stewart, but even more sentimental when you hear it sung by the writer himself. This is just a super rock and roll record, every song a gem."
As Always, Dylan is Timeless
Ophella Paige | Reno, Nevada | 04/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just love the way Dylan says, "They say that patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings" in the song "Sweetheart Like You." That phrase is timeless, more true today than ever. But than that's the way with a lot of Bob Dylan's songs, they never seem to age. I saw Dylan when he was touring for this record and he did a rocking version of "Masters of War," that is just ripping. "Neighbor Hood Bully" on this record is performed pretty close to the way he did that song, "Sundown On the Union" is too. This is a rock and roll record and I just love it!"