Blood Of The Lamb (Thinman 098/99)
Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque, NM – December 5th, 1979
Disc 1 (59:06): Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, When You Gonna Wake Up, When He Returns, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Precious Angel, Slow Train, Covenant Woman / God Uses Ordinary People
Disc 2 (51:54): Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, Do Right To Me Baby, Solid Rock, Saving Grace, Saved, What Can I Do For You, In The Garden, Blessed Is The Name, Pressing On
Bob Dylan’s first gospel tour is characterized by a rigid set list and an evangelical intensity. The penultimate stop was two shows at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico before the final two in Tucson. Thinman released the first New Mexico show several years ago on Blessed Be The Name (Thinman-024/025) and Blood Of The Lamb is the second. There are two audience recordings and the label use the better sounding and complete tape for this new release. There are several cuts between numbers but it contains all of the music and Dylan’s sermons. The opening gospel set is unfortunately omitted. This tape was made by a fellow who was simultaneously filming about a half hour the event. You can hear him speaking about the filming with his friend at the start of “Pressing On” and the shutters are clearly audible for about twenty minutes on the second disc (running at in the beginning of “In The Garden.”) The question is, WHERE IS THIS FILM??? Seeing video of this era would be absolutely priceless!
The opening two numbers begin in a slow and almost demure manner. Before “When You Gonna Wake Up?” he preaches, “I don’t know what God you believe in. I believe in a God that can raise the dead. Unless your God can do that, he ain’t no God.” This is a song that saw some evolution over the three year gospel period but in 1979 was played close to the studio version on Slow Train Coming with Tackett duplicating Mark Knopfler’s guitar solo faithfully.
“When He Returns” is given a low key arrangement with only Dylan on vocals and guitar accompanied by Spooner Oldham on piano. The vocals are passionate and sincere as if he’s laying his soul out on stage. The song “Slow Train,” which serves as a mission statement of the tour, is preceded by a sermon thick with pre-milleniarism dispensationalism: “Well, you know we’re living now in the end times. I don’t think there’s anybody here who doesn’t feel that in their heart. Scripture says, ‘in the last days, perilous times shall be at hand. Men shall become lovers of their own selves.’ Blasphemous, heavy, and high-minded. Now, I don’t know who you’re gonna vote for [referring to the 1980 Presidential campaign and election], but none of those people is gonna straighten out what’s happening in the world now. You know what’s happening right now, when you look at the Middle East? They’re headed for a war. That’s right, they’re headed for war. There’s gonna be war over there. I’d say maybe five years, maybe ten years, could fifteen years, I don’t know, but remember I told you right here. I told you ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ and they did! I said the answer was ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ and it was! And I’m saying to you now, Jesus is coming back, and he is! There is no other way to salvation. I know around here you’ve got a lot of different spiritual things. You’ve got a lot of gurus, I know you do. You’ve got a lot of people just putting a mess on you in all kinds of ways. You don’t even know which way to believe. There’s only one way to believe. There’s only one way, the truth and the light. It took me a long time to figure that out before it did come to me. I hope it doesn’t take you that long. But Jesus is coming back to set up his kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years. I don’t know if that’s news to you, but I know you don’t read it in the newspapers. But it’s the truth. All right. So don’t you be worried now. Don’t you be bothered by the events to come, because, if you’re saved, you’re saved. And if you’re lost, you’re lost.”
The second long sermon is delivered before Mona Lisa Young sings “God Uses Ordinary People.” Here he is much more profound and direct in his theology as he says, “You know he does use ordinary people. He doesn’t use superheroes or strange mystical people, he uses ordinary people. That’s right. And Moses was even an ordinary person. Did you know Moses didn’t even want to go down to Egypt-land and tell them to get those people out. But God said, Moses, you go down there and you get those people out. Now Moses couldn’t talk very well though. Anyway, he went down there and he told Pharaoh to let the people go. But Pharaoh did not want to do it. He did not want to let those people go. Pharaoh was what you could call, rebellious. He had a rebellious spirit. And God told Moses, ‘Well, Moses, you go tell Pharaoh, he’s gonna…hail’s gonna strike.’ So Moses went and he told Pharaoh that the hail was gonna come and Pharaoh didn’t believe him. You know that he wasn’t gonna believe him. But the hail came anyway and the rivers dried up and all kinds of plagues came. You can read about it yourself, if you want to. Anyway, Pharaoh probably still did not want to let those people go. He would not let them go because they were working for him. There what you call slaves. They were working for him, and, uh, he did not want to let them go at all. Anyway, the last time, God told Moses, he said, ‘Moses, you go tell Pharaoh that all the first-born sons in Egypt are going to die tonight. That he gonna – God does that, you know, God will just use his judgment to see, however he sees fit. Anyway, Moses said to God, ‘Well how will all the Hebrew children, how will he know them, how will this destroying angel know the Hebrew children?’ And he said, ‘Well, if you go kill a lamb and you put the sign of the blood on every door’ And that’s what Moses did. And the blood was on every door. And you know you need that blood on your door.”
“Do Right To Me Baby” is one of the earliest songs written for Slow Train Coming and they play a light arrangement live which isn’t as dependent on the funk bassline as is the studio version. Before the new song “Saved” Dylan responds to critics, saying, “I hear that some, somebody says, ‘I like, I like the music, but I don’t, I can’t, I can’t get the message. I like the music, but it’s the message I can’t get.’ That’s like saying, ‘I like the high, but the lows, I just don’t quite, I can’t quite place.’ ‘The eyes, the ears are ok, but the neck just don’t work.’ You know some of you people, you know, you’ve got to be responsible for what you say. Now here’s a song about being delivered from the devil, who is the God of this world. Prince of the power of the air. Mister Devil. He’s infiltered…infiltrated into everything. Medicine, science, you name it, he’s there.”
Being one of the newer songs, it is full of energy and zeal which the studio version lacked. Of all his gospel songs this is closest to “Amazing Grace” and a good doctrinal statement about original sin:
“I was blinded by the devil,
Born already ruined,
As I stepped out of the womb.
By His grace I have been touched,
By His word I have been healed,
By His hand I’ve been delivered,
By His spirit I’ve been sealed.”
The finale “In The Garden” is played very slowly and deliberately, stretched out to eight minutes. The two encores are the up tempo gospel “Blessed Be The Name” and the ultra-dramatic “Pressing On.” When Dylan steps out from behind the piano to sing directly to the audience he is met with a tremendous applause. Blood Of The Lamb is yet another great document from the gospel period. It is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with thick color glossy paper inserts which again gives it a very classy look.