Great Rock Albums of 1983: Bob Dylan- Infidels


“Infidels” was Bob Dylan’s first album after his three albums professing his faith as a Born Again Christian. Now I posted about two of those albums, “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved” and like I said at the time, I have no problems with people who want to use music to express their beliefs on anything, within my personal boundaries on decency, which are quite broad. Those two albums were quite good in their own right and I remain convinced that those albums from Bob helped usher in the emerging tide of Christian rock artists that were gaining notoriety in 1983. Anyway, enough about that because it is said that “Infidels” with Dylan’s first secular album since his conversion and in many ways, it is a good album.

The first time I heard the single, “Neighborhood Bully” on the radio, I was duly impressed. To me, that song had a bit of hard rock swagger to it with a very catchy rhythm. In fact, it has taken it’s place as my fourth favourite Bob Dylan song. What also has fascinated me about the song was trying to figure out who was the neighborhood bully he was singing about. My first, thoughts was on account of the political climate at the time, that the bully might have been the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and Ronald Regan’s determination to make war on it. It could have been a Middle Eastern country and it turns out that I was right. After reading about it, (they didn’t have Wikopedia in 1983), I found out that he was singing about Israel and the persecution of the Jewish people as well as the contributions they have made to the world. The fact that this has mystery has finally been cleared up for me after more than thirty years doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still a brilliant rock tune.

It appears that Bob Dylan realized he stumbled onto something when he decided to go electric with his live “Hard Rain” album way back in 1976. For most of “Infidels,” he uses the electric guitar and his songs sound more rock. “License to Kill” and “I & I” are good examples here. You definitely can not call him a folk singer who sings through his nose on this album. However, I did read back then that some called him that old singer who sounds like Dire Straits. Well, there’s truth in that. The first time I heard Dire Straits, I thought it was Bob Dylan singing with Eric Clapton backing him up on guitar. Maybe it could be true owing to the fact that Dire Straits guitarist and lead singer Mark Knoepfler produced the album and he does a grand job in doing so. I think that on “Infidels,” Dylan sounds the best he has in years. But before anyone goes off and says that Dylan had some how changed, let me say that he still tackles relevant social and political topics of the time just like the Bob Dylan of old. He just makes the music behind his messages much more enjoyable.

Track Listing:

  1. Jokerman
  2. Sweetheart Like You
  3. Neighborhood Bully
  4. License to Kill
  5. Man of Peace
  6. Union Sundown
  7. I & I
  8. Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight


Bob Dylan- lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards

Mark Knopfler- guitar

Clydie King- vocals on “Sundown”

Robbie Shakespeare- bass

Mick Taylor- guitar

Sly Dunbar- drums, percussion

It would be silly of me to say that Bob Dylan was back in 1983 because he never went anywhere. He simply changed what he was singing about and went back to more traditional topics. This was still a brave thing to do in the ever increasing conservative mood of 80s Regan America. Still, he did and he proved that he could rock a bit as well.

Next post: Yes- 90125

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14 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1983: Bob Dylan- Infidels”

  1. Great review of an album that’s in my Dylan Top 5. A great combination of lyrics, melodies and musicianship. It always brings me back to my first record store job, in 1983, when we played this record nearly every day. Instead of getting sick of it, I loved it more with each listen. I’m so glad you chose to highlight this classic.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Rich! This album has always been one of my favourites as well. Similar to your experience in the record store, when working the midnight to 8 shift at a parking lot in Atlantic City, hearing “Neighborhood Bully” always livened thing up and took away the boredom for a few minutes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m very fond of this one – as Rich says, lyrically, melodically, musically it’s spot on. One of my favourite Dylan albums.

    As for Knopfler, he done a stellar job here. His contributions light up the songs and give the songs a distinctive music signature, for want of a better description (as on Slow Train Coming, right enough!).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very true about Knopfler, his contributions are one of the reasons this album is so good. But Bob should take some of the credit too, at least for having the sense to enlist Mark to produce the album.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. […] Great Rock Albums of 1983: Bob Dylan- Infidels [80sMETALMAN’S BLOG, blog] […]


  4. You’ve been added to the Blog Dylan page!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Living a Beautiful Life and commented:
    I’m pleased to present the latest addition to BLOG DYLAN – A Community Collaboration!
    Please visit 80smetalman’s contribution — which should have been included in the the initial posting. My apologies once again for this oversight.

    ~ Danica

    P.S. Comments disable here. Please visit the original post. Thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not so much with you on this one – in 1983, I was 21 and desperate for Dylan to get back on track (as I saw it at the time). Great production and guitar playing by Knopfler, but lyrically didn’t quite float my boat. For me, you had to wait until 1989’s Oh Mercy for him to hit top form again.

    Plus of course the best track on Infidels isn’t on Infidels – ‘Blind Willie McTell.

    I hope you keep going with this series. It’s good to hear an appreciation of Dylan from a rock fan – like you, I’m not so fussed for the early folkie albums, despite the classic songs.


  7. This album was the first thing my new girlfriend & I found we had in common – now married 17 years!!!!! Love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

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