Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Saved (1980)

(1980, Columbia Records)


Vegan Polish style Kishka! umm... what the fuck?

Well...come back to another installment of Dinner with Dylan! Course number 20. If you're still hanging on by a thread to these albums, and meals, I thank you. If you're dropping in for the first time, welcome to the Doozy Zone. Because we are trapped in the throes of being SAVED!

Gather round my sons and daughters, let's talk about one Robert Zimmerman; born on the cold shores of Lake Superior, he ascended into East Village folk superstardom, and slowly descended into the maddening snake hole of the early '80s.

For those keeping track on your Bingo cards, this is Dylan's 2nd of his religious trilogy... After laying on the religion pretty thick with Slow Train Coming, Dylan figured why not just drop his listeners into a dunk tank full of holy water?

(the record buying public at large shouting "we didn't ask for this!")

An LP SO religious, Columbia was eventually like, "Hey Bob, we're gonna scale back that fucking cover, goddammit?" to which Zimmy replied "Do not take the Lord's name in veeeeeeeiiiiiin! Ahhhh, hooooowwwww does it feeeeellll?" in his wheezy goat voice.

(the reissued cover, the one your father probably bought on CD at Nobody Beats the Wiz, before they were beaten by other electronic retailers)

Yes, as you can see from the original cover, a giant finger seems to be electrocuting smaller fingers. Some would call this the Lord, God, Jesus... a higher power of one's faith. The reissued cover is basically an oil painting of Bob Dylan that someone smeared greasy McMuffin wrappers over. I don't see the connection, but such is the path to getting SAVED on a major label.

If you couldn't get enough of the bland funk, reggae, roots rock that controlled Dylan's first overtly religious LP, then Saved is going to BLOW... YOUR... FUCKING... MIND!

(a fan who misses the bland funk)

YOU SEE, because Saved is a flat-out Gospel record full of many soft rock moments, sans the rollicking title track and "Rock Solid." Yes, Gospel with a capital G with a dash of Get-up and Go funk and religious rock and roll with lowercase Rs.

On this LP, we further watch one of the most prolific voices of the past 15 years drift into a strange oblivion of continuing to be born again. Coming off the 70 date "gospel" tour following the release of Slow Train Coming, Dylan entered the studio with his backing band to lay down the new Gospel according to Zimmy, further baffling fans and making Popes weep.


"Love it"- a Pope

"This is everything Abbey Road is not"- a pope

"I'm not crying. You're crying"- Pope Pranks II

Meanwhile, as we listen to Bob Dylan pigeonhole himself into a weird gospel corner, let's talk briefly about tonight's main course. As usual, my wife has prepared this. I feel like I've given up at cooking during every Dinner With Dylan these days (months... years?), but I will get back to it.

(How my wife treats me during Dinner With Dylan time)

I am, forever grateful of her delicious meals. Tonight, I'm eating an accidental creation of hers we've deemed Vegan Polish Kishka (sometimes spelled Keeshka). For anyone who doesn't know what kishka is, good for you. Me, however, growing up a portly Polish kid, consumed it often as my dad would make it for breakfast. It's a mishmash of buckwheat, barley, and blood sausage stuffed in an delicious intestine. WELL, since I don't eat that stuff no more, and it is somehow delicious, she constructed a meal of finely chopped grilled onions, garlic, Vegan mock beef crumbles, and polenta.  Sure to be interesting!

Now bow your heads, my children, and let's all get SAVED! together.

A Satisfied Mind- Dylan kicks things off with a sparse, tent carnival show type religious awakening song. As if taking place in the middle of campground with several session players from the local church, Dylan leads the hymns as the gospel girls carry a wispy melody in the back. Dylan is basically hi-fiving God all over this thing, but musically, it's a great departure from that sweat inducing, stanky funk of Slow Train Coming. Pretty, pretty great opener... Even if the lyrics are pretty much "CONVERT YO' SELF ALREADY!"

(Albert Einstein is an example of an unsatisfied mind, as well as someone most rightwing Christians don't believe in, I think)

Saved- If you want to pinpoint an exact moment a star explodes, and fades away, listen to the second this song kicks in. Dylan, now in an extreme religious fervor has been taken away from us. There he goes, up to the clouds, Eucharist in mouth, strange oils upon his forehead. This is a raucous jamboree that really gets the blood flowing, causing listeners to succumb to delusions of religious grandeur. Still, this may be the punkest things Dylan put out since the '60s, and for the liner notes to say nothing of the liberty spikes and studs he sported in the studio during its recording is just a sin!

(an example of something being saved)

(another example of something being saved)

Real quick on my dinner... HOT DAMN, this really does taste an awful lot like kishka. Yes my Eastern European friends, if you miss the taste of pig's blood and buckwheat on your vegetarian palate, have we found the cure. Congratulations, you're SAVED!  It's quite salty, the onions adding a nice spice reminiscent of kishka. The cornmeal of the polenta sits in as a quick substitute for the buckwheat and the vegan crumbles add to the mouthfeel and blood flavor without drinking blood!

(Fact: Every Sunday, parents let their kids drink wine at church and tell them it's BLOOD, and everyone's cool with it!)

Covenant Woman- Rock music can be a filth pit for sure. Sometimes, it's nice to see a little piece of music safe for that special auntie and uncle in your life. Later in the decade, Whitesnake would be all "She's my cherry pie," but Dylan's like "Hey world... This song is 'Covenant Woman'," and the crowds fell silent in awe. Okay, this song is a bland blanket of building rootsy rock that's good for a quick spirit cleansing during drives down sinful roadways.

(an example of a haunted roadway on which one could listen to gospel rock music and feel better about having once sinned...)

What Could I Do For You?- Pack it up, Zimmy, that's what.... Har har har... Just kidding, Father Zimmy. Keep the mid-tempo gospel rock grooving. It ain't hurting nothin', except your record sales. Here, like "Covenant Woman," Dylan seems hell-bent on putting his audience to sleep with some bland incidental rock saturated with holy water. Another great example of a rock song to bring to the dinner table for the whole family to enjoy.

Meanwhile, my vegan kishka's got me doing a wild one-man polka in my head. So tasty. So salty! I may just shut this off an put on some accordion driven novelty oom-pah records!

(A classic. Note "Keeshka" spelled with different letters!!!)

Solid Rock- 4 Finally, some real rock music as specified by its title. Robert Dylerman wouldn't lie to us. He's a solid Christian now... Well, let me tell you. This song ROCKS.  Compared to the last couple songs, its like Dylan's take on Judas Priest... but with backing female soul singers. Not exactly FRESH, but damn it's the SECOND most punk moment on the record.  It also occurs to me now that the "rock" in the title is a biblical allusion. Dylan's literary stylings were about as fresh as a fart in a hurricane at this point, but that wouldn't stop him from bringing home the Nobel Prize for literature some 26 years later. 

Pressing On- "Pressing On" is a perfect song to open Side B because if you're still hanging on to the record at this point, you might as well just convert. Okay, to be fair, this tune opens with a piano, which is a very popular instrument throughout time. Things begin to swell as a kick drum begins keeping time.  Dylan acts the part of preacher while the backing singers provide the uplifting gospel backbone. Eventually, this track morphs into some roots rock Planet Waves territory. Dig that double time drumming that pops in toward the end. Song is a bucket of cheese, but I'm into a fair amount of cheeses, and also dig this song! May melt your soul.

(Gouda is an example of one cheese which I enjoy)

In the Garden- Dylan continues to read up on his Bible stories, speaking of Jesus getting taken from the garden, lead to crucifixion, which eventually lead Americans to Easter hams. The organ on this song has some accidental psych rock quality at times, as the song begins to swell. Other than that, another mundane mid-tempo rocker full of gospel loving roots. Grab a pillow and take nap until the next song, where you will proceed to wake up, look around, only to fall asleep again.

(Pope SAVES a child's hearing as someone walks past the Vatican blasting Saved)

Saving Grace- Good Lord Jesus. Bland bland bland. Unlike this kishka dish! See during some of these 5 minute rockers, I've scarfed down 4 dishes of this thing. And you may be thinking, hey it don't look all that good, dude." Well you would not be wrong. BUT, here's what kishka looks like in its normal state...

(in the wild)

Now, that's pretty gross. But tasty... Give it a try! 

Meanwhile, this dragging song..... Holy hell does this drag ass.
(An visual example of dragging ass).
My review for this will be fifteen lines of blank space so you can get a true sense of how exciting this nearly 6 minute rock gospel dirge really is...

Finally, the song has ended. As has my dinner. Boy, I'm getting love handles as we speak.

("In the James Bond film A View to Kill, Grace Jones played a villain, and therefore was not a perfect example of a saving Grace," says film critic Leonard Maltball)

Are You Ready- The title seems to beg the question "Are You Ready (For This Album to End)" but unfortunately it's entirely about being ready to meet Jesus. Do you know how I know this? Dylan blatantly says it, along with being ready for other things such as seas parting, and other religious ranting. It's nice to see Dylan is able to turn a gospel rock song into such a scummy sweat factory on the drop of a dime. May God have mercy on ours souls...

That's all folks!

(John Boehner upset his favorite record has ended after listening to Saved in the Capitol with Joe Biden and the Pope of Rock N Roll)

Stay tuned for the final album in Bob Dylan's love letter to Jesus... Shot of Love.   While shot of love may sound more like an AC/DC album title, and a pretty obvious allusion to male ejaculation, it's actually Dylan's third gospel rock tribute album in his trilogy. See y'all soon. Keep the faith! 

("It's ok, kid. There's one more Christian Rock Dylan album left, and it's coming soon!"- the Pope to a Dylan fan.


  1. Nice stuff. Congrats! Bob Dylan rules! I didn't make it to church last year but I saw Dylan in Providence!

  2. Thanks! And it's okay, we forgive you for missing church. Nice job seeing Dylan instead!

  3. It's actually spelled "kiszka", and it's to die for with a little mustard (the real thing, I mean).

    This was, I think, the last of Zimm's official albums that I bought. I did it only to round out my collection, because I had been assured by absolutely everyone that it was terrible, maybe his worst album ever.... So imagine my surprise when I listened to "Saved" for the first time and thought, "Hey, this is actually pretty good! I like it quite a bit."

    The main problem here is lousy production, which drains the album of much of the electricity Zimm and his gang were able to whip up in live performance. But otherwise, it's a solid gospel album, in the same way that "Nashville Skyline" is a solid country album. Whether either one of these is a solid DYLAN album is another question entirely....