Born Already Ruined (Thinman-109/110)
Fox Warfield, San Francisco, CA – November 9th, 1979
Disc 1 (64:28): 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, Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, Do Right To Me Baby, Solid Rock, Saving Grace
Disc 2 (30:17): What Can I Do For You?, In The Garden, Blessed Is The Name, Pressing On. Bonus, December 7th, 1979 interview
For the seismic impact of the initial Gospel shows at the Fox Warfield in November 1979 there have been very few pressed editions of these shows. Born Already Ruined is the first pressed edition of the November 9th show, one that comes right in the middle of the set. There are two tapes in circulation in very good sound quality and both missing the non-Dylan portions of the set.
The first tape source is rather thin but the second one, which Thinman uses, is very good, well balanced and very enjoyable. There is a destructive cut omitting the opening notes of “Covenant Woman” and there are slight cuts between some of the numbers, but is otherwise musically complete. On the first pressing Thinman unfortunately made a mistake by forgetting to include “Saved” which falls between “What Can I Do For You” and “In The Garden.” They however issued a corrected disc with the missing track. The discs with the error can be distinguished by seeing “Thinman-110” printed on the inside hub while the corrected disc has “Thinman-110R.” A similar thing happened on Slow Train To Warfield (Mainstream MAST-98/99) which has the November 7th show and has “In The Garden” listed on the liner notes but forgot to include it on the disc.
Born Already Ruined would be a superlative release if Thinman were to go back and correct this error. Their mastering is very well done and the inclusion of the Bruce Heiman telephone interview broadcast by KMEX Radio in Tucson where Dylan addresses the concerns of the American Atheists movement, is an outstanding addition.
The set list for the November 9th show is identical to the others except that “Slow Train” and “Precious Angel” are reversed. The show begins with a slow and heavy version of “Gotta Serve Somebody” followed by an “I Believe In You” where guitarist Fred Tackett duplicates the Slow Train Coming guitar solo perfectly. “Slow Train,” which normally begins with the lead guitar, has a bass driven introduction this performance and they deliver a very tight and emotional version.
“Do Right To Me Baby,” which was the first of the “gospel” songs written almost a year before, is played close to the Slow Train arrangement with the elastic, melodic bass line that would be dropped in later performances. The only preaching is present as Dylan introduces the newer song “Solid Rock” where he says: “seeing as we are living in the last of the end of times….I know everybody agrees with that. All right, shout if you agree with me. So this is called, ‘Hanging On To A Solid Rock’ because in the end of times we’re going to need something very strong to hang on to.” It is still very much a work in progress and comes off as very energetic and hectic. And extra riff in inserted between the first “solid rock” and “made” which is absent from other versions.
Dylan’s vocal performance on “Saving Grace” is spectacular. His voice is the most expressive as he approaches the lyrics about salvation and the resurrection. The band introduction occurs after “In The Garden” and the two encores, “Blessed Be The Name” and “Pressing On” have been singled out by many as being exemplary. Overall this is a very good show worth of a silver release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)