Early in 1978, Dylan set out on another extensive tour, this time backed by a band that resembled a Las Vegas lounge act. The group was featured on the 1978 album Street Legal and the 1979 live album At Budokan. At the conclusion of the tour in late 1978, Dylan announced that he was a born-again Christian, and he launched a series of Christian albums that following summer with Slow Train Coming. Though the reviews were mixed, the album was a success, peaking at number three and going platinum. His supporting tour for Slow Train Coming featured only his new religious material, much to the bafflement of his long-term fans. Two other religious albums — Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) — followed, both to poor reviews. In 1982, Dylan traveled to Israel, sparking rumors that his conversion to Christianity was short-lived. He returned to secular recording with 1983’s Infidels, which was greeted with favorable reviews.
Dylan returned to performing in 1984, releasing the live album Real Live at the end of the year. Empire Burlesque followed in 1985, but its odd mix of dance tracks and rock & roll won few fans. However, the five-album/triple-disc retrospective box set Biograph appeared that same year to great acclaim. In 1986, Dylan hit the road with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for a successful and acclaimed tour, but his album that year, Knocked Out Loaded, was received poorly. The following year, he toured with the Grateful Dead as his backing band; two years later, the souvenir album Dylan & the Dead appeared.
In 1988, Dylan embarked on what became known as “the Never-Ending Tour” — a constant stream of shows that ran on and off into the late ’90s. That same year, he released Down in the Groove, an album largely comprised of covers. The Never-Ending Tour received far stronger reviews than Down in the Groove, but 1989’s Oh Mercy was his most acclaimed album since 1975’s Blood on the Tracks, due in part to Daniel Lanois’ strong production. However, Dylan’s 1990 follow-up, Under the Red Sky, was received poorly, especially when compared to the enthusiastic reception for the 1991 box set The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased), a collection of previously unreleased outtakes and rarities. For the remainder of the ’90s, Dylan divided his time between live concerts, painting, and studio projects. He returned to recording in 1992 with Good as I Been to You, an acoustic collection of traditional folk songs. It was followed in 1993 by another folk record, World Gone Wrong, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. After the release of World Gone Wrong, Dylan released a greatest-hits album and a live record.
Dylan released Time Out of Mind, his first album of original material in seven years, in the fall of 1997. Time Out of Mind received his strongest reviews in years and unexpectedly debuted in the Top Ten, eventually climbing to platinum certification. Such success sparked a revival of interest in Dylan, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek and began selling out concerts once again. Early in 1998, Time Out of Mind received three Grammy Awards — Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album, and Best Male Rock Vocal. Another album of original material, Love and Theft, followed in 2001 and went gold. Soon after its release, Dylan announced that he was making his own film, to star Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, John Goodman, Val Kilmer, and many more. The accompanying soundtrack, Masked and Anonymous, was released in July 2003. Dylan opted to self-produce his new studio album, Modern Times, which topped the Billboard charts and went platinum in both America and the U.K. It was Dylan’s third consecutive album to receive praise from critics and support from consumers, and it was followed three years later in 2009 by Together Through Life, another self-produced effort. Further albums and over 100 concerts each year prove that Bob Dylan is the worlds greatest musical living legend.