September 28, 1981 12:00 PM

Bob Dylan

Convert Dylan’s now two-year-old embrace of the Christian faith, which first showed up on the emotional Slow Train Coming LP, is expressed here in rock, reggae and ballad form. Some of the new tunes are authentically moving. In one of them, Lenny Bruce, Dylan plays piano and (backed up by a gospel-influenced chorus) sings “They said he was sick/ Because he didn’t play by the rules/ He just showed the wise men of his day/ To be nothing more than fools.” Property of Jesus and Every Grain of Sand are both simply arranged, hymnlike and moving. These tunes stand out because they hold up as vintage Dylan—snarling, pleading and pained. The rest is, however, ragged, less intense, less interesting. Dylan lands top-notch backup talent—guitarists Ron Wood and Danny Kortchmar, for instance—and then doesn’t use their special gifts. Twenty years after Dylan himself became a sort of religion, his best moments remain those magnificently intimate flashes when he solos with his harmonica, piano or guitar. There are just enough of those shots of Dylan to make Shot of Love worth having.

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