|Rolling Stone Magazine
The genius of Bob Dylan becomes more and more apparent as time marches on, and one of the most talked-about periods of his long and storied career remains his jaw-dropping conversion to Christianity in 1979, which produced some great, Grammy-winning music but invoked the same polarized reaction as did his plugging in at Newport back in 1965.
This fascinating story is captured here in a series of "I was there" interviews with musicians, participants and observers. Director and Producer Joel Gilbert (Bob Dylan 1966 World Tour-The Home Movies and Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974-Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein) weaves the fascinating tale of this remarkable period in Dylan's life with video footage, rare photos, ephemera and memorabilia, and - most importantly - new, exclusive interviews with the likes of legendary record producer Jerry Wexler, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, vocalist Regina McCreary, writer Al Kasha and long-time San Francisco Chronicle rock critic Joel Selvin. Also included are reminisces from old Dylan chum Izzy Young and old Dylan nemesis A.J. Weberman. Many of these participants have never spoken about Dylan on camera before.
Producer Gilbert, a renowned Dylan expert and musician in his own right, goes behind the scenes and asks the probing questions that reveal much of the motivation behind Dylan's actions during this highly turbulent period. For example, in his first-ever interview, Dylan's Bible Class teacher, Pastor Bill Dwyer, reveals the history of Dylan's early Christian period. It's a fascinating peek into some private moments that helped create revolutionary music that Dylan fans still talk about to this day. Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years provides an exciting, fun and educational experience for anyone who appreciates Dylan's music.
Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church
Pastor Bill Dwyer
So many people try to create controversy, that they blur the real story. It is nice to see an honest, yet fascinating look at how Bob Dylan came to the Lord the way it all really happened.
||The Washington Times
"Taking Bob Dylan at Faith Value" - or Click to Download
"Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years"- or Click to Download
"Gonna Change Your Way of Thinking" - or Click to Download
Nearly three decades of summers since Slow Train Coming captivated new and old believers, a revealing documentary
Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years is the only project of its kind to explore the years during which Dylan was scandalizing the pop-culture world with recordings and performances that proclaimed Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.
By interviewing members of Dylan's ever-shifting inner circles and acute observers on its periphery, Director Joel Gilbert provides a wealth of insight into both the singer-songwriter and the effect of evangelism on contemporary society as a whole.
Christians will find Gilbert's interviews with those directly involved in Dylan's gospel music particularly interesting. Veteran producer, the late Jerry Wexler, for instance, describes the often humorous challenges faced in recording Slow Train Coming with a largely religiously indifferent ensemble.
Elsewhere, keyboardist Spooner Oldham and background singer Regina McCrary give firsthand accounts of performing Dylan's all-gospel sets to often hostile crowds. Providing equally revealing context are Joel Selvin (the San Francisco Chronicle critic whose panning of Dylan's new show both captured and helped set the tone for its hostile reception), Al Kasha (the award-winning songwriter and Messianic Jew at whose home Dylan composed portionsof Slow Train Coming), and Mitch Glaser (the Jews for Jesus leader responsible for providing,at Dylan's request, on-the-spot evangelism and tract distribution at the San Francisco shows).
Gilbert's real coup, however, was coaxing Pastor Bill Dwyer, the teacher of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Bible class that Dylan attended for several months, to speak on the record for the first time. Dwyer explains in uninterrupted detail what it means to be "born again," as does Dylan himself at one point, albeit in more elliptical terms on Pittsburgh's KDKA TV in 1980. "I can understand why they're rebellious about it," says Dylan, referring to the poor response of his gospel-tour audiences to his new music. "Up until the time the Lord came into my life, I didn't know nothing about this. I was just as rebellious and didn't think much about it either way."
Troy Anderson - Sept. 25, 2008
In 1978, Bob Dylan embarked on a spiritual journey that resulted in three gospel albums. This documentary explores these "Jesus Years" through frank interviews and concert footage, revealing the albums' place in Dylan's oeuvre. The outrage expressed by fans and critics at the time is offset with reflections from Dylan's producer and religious advisers and a journey to the studio and church that launched the phenomenon.
I've only been slightly familiar with Dylan's work from this era. "Gotta Serve Somebody" was his biggest hit, but even that song was a radical departure from his previous hit with "The Hurricane".
What could possess a popular artist to make such a radical shift? That question was only partially answered by this documentary and it went about in the most roundabout way. The documentary seemed more fascinated with various points of view about the circumstances. Not having Dylan there to actually discuss his personal journey put a damper on the events. But, the documentary still worked without him.
The DVD is a fun release that shows off Bob Dylan in all of his glory. This is the kind of release sporting amazing live performances and quirky events that makes us music fanatics go nuts. I love classic performers who stray off the conventional path. The A/V Quality is amazing for the various sources and ages from which the clips originated. That's why I recommend it for a blind buy.