Today: Bob Dylan released “Infidels” in 1983 – 29 years ago

….I wanted to call my next album, whenever I made it, Surviving In A Ruthless World. I wanted to call it that. Before we even went into the studio, “The next album I do I’m gonna call Surviving in a Ruthless World”. But something was holding me back from it, because for some reason… somebody pointed out to me that the last bunch of albums that I made all started with the letter S. And I’d say, “Is that right?” There must be a story or something. I didn’t want to do another one beginning with S just f for superstitious reasons. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the letter S whatever the letter S stands for. And this Infidels came out, just came into my head one day, I guess. This was after we had that album done that it just came in my head that this is the right title for this album. I mean, I don’t know any more about it than anybody else really. I did it. I did the album, and I call it that, but what it means is for other people to interpret, you know, if it means something to them. Infidels is a word that’s in the dictionary and whoever it applies to… to everybody on the album, every character. Maybe it’s all about infidels.
~Bob Dylan (to Kurt Loder in March 1984)

Jokerman – official video:

From Wikipedia:

Released October 27, 1983
Recorded April–May 1983 at the Power Station, New York
Genre Rock
Length 41:39
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler

Infidels is the twenty-second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in October 1983 by Columbia Records.

Produced by Mark Knopfler and Dylan himself, Infidels is seen as his return to secular music, following a conversion to Christianity, three evangelical, gospel records and a subsequent return to a secular, culturally Jewish lifestyle. Though he has never abandoned religious imagery, Infidels gained much attention for its focus on more personal themes of love and loss, in addition to commentary on the environment and geopolitics.

The critical reaction was the strongest for Dylan in years, almost universally hailed for its songwriting and performances. The album also fared well commercially, reaching #20 in the US and going gold, and #9 in the UK. Still, many fans and critics were disappointed that several songs were inexplicably cut from the album just prior to mastering—primarily “Blind Willie McTell“, considered a career highlight by many critics, and not officially released until it appeared on The Bootleg Series Volume III eight years later.

Here is a “legendary” performance of Jokerman @ Letterman:

Track listing:

Side one

  1. “Jokerman” – 6:12
  2. “Sweetheart Like You” – 4:31
  3. “Neighborhood Bully” – 4:33
  4. “License to Kill” – 3:31

Side two

  1. “Man of Peace” – 6:27
  2. “Union Sundown” – 5:21
  3. “I and I” – 5:10
  4. “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight” – 5:54


  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals, production
Additional musicians
  • Alan Clark – keyboards
  • Sly Dunbar – drums, percussion
  • Clydie King – vocals on “Union Sundown”
  • Mark Knopfler – guitar, production
  • Robbie Shakespeare – bass guitar
  • Mick Taylor – guitar

Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia):

Another ragbag collection of insipid material, hailed in the US as a great return
to form on Dylan’s part. This is the sort of work that makes Dylan’s earlier ‘minor’ albums sound like masterpieces. In depressing contrast to Nashville
Skyline, New Morning or Planet Waves, there is on Infidels generally no warmth, no unity and no sense that real music is being created and played
for pleasure by people who know what they want. There is instead the unwelcome return of the portentous quality of the evangelical albums of
1979–80, while the production is half-hearted and irresolute. It is Dylan beginning to say that he doesn’t really want to write songs or make records
any more, and to behave as if it hardly matters whether an album is any good or not. This is not a welcome stance from a great artist. As with Shot of
Love, its predecessor, it needn’t have been this way: the sessions yielded important work excluded from the release, including what is perhaps Dylan’s
greatest single recording of the 1980s, the lapidary ‘Blind Willie McTell’. Best of the released tracks: ‘I and I’ (though this admonishes you into feeling
it’s important, rather than claiming a place in your heart) and the album’s one incontestable major success, ‘Jokerman’.

Paul Williams (Peforming Artist 74-86):

….Infidels contains some very good and some very bad performances side by side. The album title is suggestive and ambiguous in the best Dylan tradition; I hear it as a comment on the unholiness and corruption of the world. In the end, some of the better songs and performances from the sessions were left off the album, including an unmistakable masterpiece, one of the true high points of Dylan’s astonishing career as a composer and performer, “Blind Willie McTell.”

There were some really brilliant outtakes from the Infidels recording sessions… This could have been “Major” Dylan album if he had chosen other songs for the album. This lead Paul Williams to suggest his “infidels”, this Infidels would indeed have been a “Major” Dylan record..

Foot of Pride (outtake):

Paul Williams’s “Infidels”:

Side one

  1. Foot of Pride (outtake)
  2. Blind Willie McTell (outtake)
  3. I and I
  4. Jokerman
Side two
  1. License To Kill (alt. version*.. not released)
  2. Don’t fall apart on me tonight
  3. Sweetheart like You
  4. Tell Me (outtake)
  5. Someone Got A Hold On My Heart (outtake)

* Paul Williams “hates” the drum sound in the released version of LTK…

My Spotify playlist & “Album” of the day:


2 versions “Someone’s got a hold of my heart”:

Version released on Bootleg series 3:

Alt. take version – note released (Rough cuts bootleg):

...AND the best outtake & Dylan’s 5th best song is:

Blind Willie McTell (electric version):

Related posts:

….more to come…

Other October 27:

  • Garry Wayne Tallent (born October 27, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan, USA), sometimes billed as Garry W. Tallent, is an Americanmusician and record producer, best known for being the longtime bass player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
  • Tom Dowd (October 20, 1925 – October 27, 2002) was an American recording engineer and producer for Atlantic Records. He was credited with innovating the multi-track recordingmethod. Dowd worked on a virtual “who’s who” of recordings that encompassed blues, jazz, pop, rock and soul records.
  • Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols is the only studio album by the English punk rock group Sex Pistols. It was released on 27 October 1977, through Virgin Records. Fans and critics alike generally regard it as an important album in the history ofrock music, citing the lasting influence it has had on subsequent punk rock musicians, as well as other musical genres that were influenced by such punk rock artists.


2 thoughts on “Today: Bob Dylan released “Infidels” in 1983 – 29 years ago”

Comments are closed.