Coming From The Heat Of St. Paul (Thinman 070/71)
Civic Center, St. Paul, MN – October 31st, 1978
Disc 1 (72:14): She’s Love Crazy, Mr. Tambourine Man, Shelter From The Storm, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Tangled Up In Blue, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Maggie’s Farm, I Don’t Believe You, Like A Rolling Stone, I Shall Be Released, Coming From The Heart, Times They Are A-Changin’, It Ain’t Me Babe, Am I Your Stepchild?
Disc 2 (72:15): One More Cup Of Coffee, Blowin’ In The Wind, Girl From The North Country, Where Are You Tonight, Masters of War, Just Like A Woman, To Ramona, All Along The Watchtower, All I Really Want To Do, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Forever Young, Changing Of The Guards, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
One can see Bob Dylan’s excursions in 1978 as an extension of the 1975-1976 RTR tours with Dylan wanting to create a big band with an eclectic palettes of sounds and styles. But whereas the RTR was meant to convey a loose confederation of musicians acting as troubadours, in 1978 the arrangements were tightly rehearsed and choreographed. The new tour is further distinguished by greater co-opting the styles of the late seventies and those reviewers who dubbed the tour “disco Dylan” were not too far off the mark. Others refered to this as “Vegas Dylan” which also hold merit. This was a time when he was emphasizing his role as performer over artist and poet and took a cue from the later Elvis years even to the point of wearing a white sequined jumpsuit on stage (a photo of Dylan in this suit appears on the back of Street Legal).
This ethic affected also the material recorded of the new album which is very much a product of its time and only “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” surviving past this tour. St. Paul occurs right in the middle of the long US tour at the end of the year. Thinman use a very good and clear but constricted sounding audience recording. There are little cuts after “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” Where Are You Tonight?” which cuts off the opening notes of “Masters Of War,” and “It’s Alright Ma.” There is a bit of significant distortion at the beginning of “Am I Your Stepchild?” where the taper adjusts the levels. These flaws are very minor since most of the music and Dylan’s introductions are all preserved. It is a challenge recording this music on cassette given the amount of instruments on stage, but every thing is very well balanced with nothing overpowering anything else.
Red Tampa’s “She’s Love Crazy” opens the show and is followed by “Mr. Tambourine Man.” This is the second arrangement of the year and, in contrast to the version played in Japan, this is very slow and deliberate which picks up the pace halfway through but never really takes off. “Shelter From The Storm” in contrast is played with a disco beat, funky saxophone, and a bluegrass inspired solo played to a happy, optimistic melody. “This is a love ballad I wrote a few years back about three people in love, all at the same time” Dylan says before a very slow, melodramatic arrangement of “Tangled Up In Blue.”
“I left Minnesota I think in 1960. I went to the East coast for a while. Anyway, I played this song at Newport Folk Festival, 1963, and they ran me out of town. Anyway, I’m not too concerned of that. But I still play it anyway, called I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more” is his introduction to an arrangement emphasizing heavy scales on the guitar and violin over a moody Hammond organ. The first half of the show ends with Dylan saying, “We’re gonna take a short vacation right here. Take about ten minutes to regroup, load up. Anyway, this is a new song that I wrote a while back, not yet recorded, but we’ll try it out on you.” This is the live debut of “Coming From The Heart (The Road Is Long)” a song that has yet to see official release.
The second half of the show begins with the mournful violin of David Mansfield beginning and ending “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” “It Ain’t Me, Babe” is played by Dylan along on the acoustic guitar and is followed by a “new song I recently wrote called Am I Your Stepchild?” This is another unreleased outtake from the Street Legal era which was played constantly on this tour with ever changing lyrics. It is a simple blues progression with harp solo in the middle with lyrical themes keeping with other songs written at this time. “Masters Of War” is a stand out performance with the heavy metal licks by guitarist David Cross. What is particularly impressive is Ian Wallace’s drums which sounds like an unstoppable machine. Many Dylan fans don’t like this arrangement but none captures the insanity of the words as well.
The set ends with “Forever Young” which Dylan introduces by saying, “Thank you! All right, we’re going to get out now. It was a pleasure coming this evening, it really was. I’ll come back here more often. Right, well, I’ll be back, I’ve had enough of that New York. Anyway, here’s a song I wrote for one of my babies, when he was a baby. He’s not a baby no more and he’s not here but I wanna play it anyway.” The first encore is the mysterious “Changing Of The Guard” played as it was recorded for the album and is followed by a short performance of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” The late seventies Dylan right before his conversion is a fascinating period and produced some of his most outlandish arrangements and musical experiment. Coming From The Heat Of St. Paul (the title is obviously a play on the unreleased track “Coming From The Heart”) is another interesting release by Thinman.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)