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Bob Dylan – East-Coast Bondage (Thinman-122/123)

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East-Coast Bondage (Thinman-122/123)

Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, CT – May 7th, 1980

Disc 1 (46:13):  Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, When You Gonna Wake Up, Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell, Cover Down Break Through, Precious Angel, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Slow Train

Disc 2 (58:44):  Calvary (Cyldie King), Ain’t No Man Righteous, Do Right To Me Baby, Solid Rock, Saving Grace, Saved, What Can I Do for You?, In the Garden, Are You Ready, Pressing On

East-Coast Bondage is another title in Thinman’s ongoing project to make available on pressed disc shows from Bob Dylan’s gospel era.  This one pulls out a very obscure show, the first of two shows at Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford.  Although this tape has been in circulation for years, nothing has ever been used in compilations either. 

The sound quality is very good and enjoyable for the era but a distant from the stage.  The opening gospel set is missing (as with the majority of tapes from the entire gospel era).  There are cuts after ”When You Gonna Wake Up,” a cut after “Ain’t No Man  Righteous” cutting out the opening notes to “Do Right To Me Baby,” a cut after “In The Garden” and at 3:20 in “Pressing On.”  There is also problem with the tape speed at 2:34 in “Pressing On” that lasts several seconds.

Thinman made a good choice since this is a tight performance with an extremely chatty Dylan throughout the evening.  The third gospel tour carried a similar set list as the first two.  “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “I Believe In You” retain their position in the show and Dylan stretches his vocal chords in the opener, adding new interjections between the lines in the stanzas.

Dylan cracks a joke after “When You  Gonna Wake Up,” saying:  Alright, anybody left yet? ha ha. They tell me everybody leaves you at these shows. It’s a little hard to see up here. East Coast bondage.”  He continues to preach, “God is waiting to set you free. I know you don’t hear to much about God these days, but we’re gonna talk about him all night anyway. We’re not gonna talk about no mysticism, no meditation, none of those Eastern religions. We’re just gonna be talking about Jesus.  Demons don’t like that name. I’ll tell right now, if you got demons inside you, they’re not gonna like it.”

He follows with his two newest songs, “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody” and “Cover Down Break Through.”  Neither of the two were recorded in the studio and released.  The only record we have of them are the surviving live tapes from the era.  “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell” would be played throughout the year but would change drastically in lyrics and in musical structure.  On this tour it begins with the back up singers repeating the title before the band gradually comes in.  The words are a straight forward plea to avoid hell.  The second, “Cover Down Break Through,” wouldn’t survive this tour.

The middle of the show is occupied by two numbers sung by the female singers, the long and ponderous “Calvary” and the more catchy “Ain’t No Man Righteous.”  “Do Right To Me Baby” from Slow Train Coming retains the original recording’s fascinating bassline and banjo effect on the guitar.  The arrangement would be changed later in the year. 

Before “Solid Rock” Dylan gets into a very introspective talk, saying:  “I don’t know if any of you have seen me before or not. I know I been through here before. I think it was, I think it was sometime in 1964. Anyway, I was singing some songs back then. I remember singing a song called Desolation Row, that’s right! You’re clapping now, you weren’t clapping then! No, you weren’t clapping then! I don’t know if the same people where there, but it was “What’s he singing about?” You did not understand what I was singing then, I don’t think I did either. Ha ha. I understand now pretty much what I’m singing about. It must have took a while for Desolation Row, Maggie’s Farm, Subterranean Homesick Blues, all that stuff to really catch on. Because it wasn’t accepted very well at the time. But I’m always prepared for adversity. I was always prepared back then and now I’m even more prepared. All right, but lot of people they talk about Jesus like they profess that they’re committed to the Lord.

“Well, I tell you now there’s a lot of different types of Jesuses that they profess that they’re with. But there is only one Jesus. All eyes shall see him, every knee shall bow. The Jesus that have defeated the Devil. If you look onto Jesus you gotta look onto the Cross. All the Jesuses that will give you all the things you want, in your earthly life, forget about that Following Jesus is no easy trip, but it’s the only trip. I’m afraid to say, I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of other trips. You may not ever hear that name again. I know that when I was never heard it myself. Nobody ever told me that Jesus could save me. I didn’t think I needed to be saved. I thought I was doing just fine.

“Well now, anyway, you know we live in dangerous times. Well, Jesus is prepared for that, he knew all about it. Right, I don’t know what you’re hanging on to. We’re hanging on to a Solid Rock, made before the foundation of the world. The times coming when you’re gonna need something sort of like that. There’s gonna be a lot of delusion coming at you. You think what’s happening now is bad you just wait. You think it’s rough now is bad you just wait. The Bible says “Cursed is the man who trusts in man.”

The ending of the show is, as it would be for all the gospel shows, “In The Garden” which is played with such utter gravity in this show.  The new song “Are You Ready?” is the first encore, replacing “Blessed Be The Lord” from the first two gospel tours and the final encore is “Pressing On.”  Hartford sounds very close to the April Toronto show that exists on soundboard and on film.  It has the same intensity, coming from Dylan wanting to address the sceptical press even more law and gospel.  Of course at the end of the year he would lighten up a bit and reintroduce older songs into the set.  Thinman press this on picture discs with thick, high class inserts.  This label has become one of the global leaders in releasing classic Bob Dylan shows and East-Coast Bondage is worth having.

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Bob Dylan - East-Coast Bondage (Thinman-122/123), 2.5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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