Bob Dylan

Contract with the Lord, Pt. 1

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Upon converting to Christianity, Bob Dylan released the much-maligned Slow Train Coming, an album celebrating his newfound faith via nine devoutly spiritual compositions inspired by traditional gospel, folk, and blues. So zealous was Dylan's evangelical passion that during the two-week residency at San Francisco's Fox Warfield Theater that followed the LP's release, he eschewed his classic hits to focus solely on this new material; despite a slow, erratic start, the Fox Warfield shows eventually hit their stride, finally communicating the soul-deep force of Dylan's Christian convictions in ways Slow Train Coming and its follow-up, Saved, did not. Documenting the first 12 songs from Dylan's climactic Fox Warfield date on November 16, 1979, the first half of the two-part bootleg release Contract With the Lord remains the vividest portrait of Dylan's born-again phase. Rarely have his vocals smoldered with so much passion and vigor, and his backing band simmers with righteous fervor. Essential stuff for Dylan fans, although it's a shame Wanted Man issued the show as two companion releases instead of one two-disc set.