Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Bob Dylan - At Budokan (1978)


Recorded live in Japan in 1978

Running time 99.41

It may surprise readers of this review when I reveal that this is my favourite Bob Dylan live album. For pretty much everyone else, it would seem to be the exact opposite! It was recorded during Dylan's tour to Japan in 1978, where, to please the Japanese audience, he agreed to play quite a few of his "greatest hits". Also, he assembled a large band that interpreted the material in a light, commercial, almost singalong way. There was lots of melodious flute and Phil Spector session veteran Steve Douglas provided some magnificent saxophone, both of those things are to my taste, particularly the saxophone. The way the material is played appals many Dylan aficionados, despising its "crowd-pleasing" nuances. Many prefer the muffled, scratchy intense sound of Hard Rain, an album I personally cannot warm to at all. I do like the Rolling Thunder live material from 1976, however, and, of course, Before The Flood. Despite the excellence of those two, I still prefer this one. Yes, I know, I know.


1. Mr. Tambourine Man
2. Shelter From The Storm
3. Love Minus Zero/No Limits
4. Ballad Of A Thin Man
5. Don't Twice Twice, It's Alright
6. Maggie's Farm
7. One More Cup Of Coffee
8. Like A Rolling Stone
9. I Shall Be Released
10. Is Your Love In Vain?
11. Going, Going, Gone
12. Blowin' In The Wind
13. Just Like A Woman
14. Oh Sister
15. Simple Twist Of Fate
16. All Along The Watchtower
17. I Want You
18. All I Really Want To Do
19. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
20. It's Alright Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)
21. Forever Young
22. The Times They Are A-Changin'                  

Highlights for me are many - a delicious Love Minus Zero/No Limits, a mysterious One More Cup Of Coffee, Is Your Love In Vain, Going, Going, Gone, a version of I Want You that is actually close to that done by Bruce Springsteen in 1975, and fantastic versions of Blowin' In The Wind, Knockin' On Heaven's Door and a tear-jerking Forever Young to end. The latter is the best version of the song I have heard Dylan do - clearly enunciated, emotional and just beautiful. One of his finest live performances. The Times They Are A Changin' is great too. Personally, I love hearing Dylan so keen to please. Give this a listen and give it a bit of a reassessment.


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