Hanging In The Balance (Thinman-014/15)
Freilichtheater, Bad Segeberg, Germany – July 14th, 1981
Disc 1: Saved, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Maggie’s Farm, Girl Of The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, In The Summertime, Dead Man Dead Man, Forever Young, The Times They Are A- Changing, Let’s Begin, Lenny Bruce, Slow Train, Mr. Tambourine Man
Disc 2: Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, Watered-Down Love, Jesus Is The One, When You Gonna Wake Up?, In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, It Ain’t Me Babe, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. Bonus tracks, Birmingham NEC, Birmingham, England – July 4th, 1981: Simple Twist Of Fate, Heart Of Mine. Birmingham NEC, Birmingham, England – July 5th, 1981: City Of Gold. Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria – July 21st, 1981: Shot Of Love. Civic Center, Lakeland, Florida – November 21st, 1981: Every Grain Of Sand
Hanging In The Balance, the new release on Thinman, documents Dylan’s first of two shows in Bad Segeberg in Germany on July 14th, 1981. The tape has been issued on cdr under this name but this is the first appearance on a commercial release. It was taped very close to the stage and is very loud and clear.
The only minor issue is some upper end distortion present but it is not distracting. Captured is the complete set by Dylan, but the taper chose not to cover the other three songs performed this evening. Omitted are “Till I Get It Right” (after “Like A Rolling Stone”), “Walk Around Heaven All Day Long” by Carolyn Dennis and “Saved By The Grace Of Your Love” (after “Just Like A Woman”). One of the particularities of this show was the lack of the opening gospel set that was featured at all of Dylan’s shows since 1979.
They would return for the following show on July 15th at this same venue for the final time. This show occurs right in the middle of his European tour on the Shot Of Love tour. Part of it was broadcast by ARD TV (West Germany) on July 15th and by ZDF TV (West Germany) on July 16th.
Like other concerts during his “born again” phase the bulk of the set list are his Christian songs, but by this time he also includes several older numbers given gospel arrangements. That he is fluent and can write songs in any given musical style and make them sound authentic and really good is his particular genius. The swirling Hammond organ throughout the set sounds as much as Garth Hudson as it does a Pentecostal snake-handling revival. This works especially well with this arrangement of “Blowin’ In The Wind”. Before “Maggie’s Farm” Dylan says “Thank you. Thank you very much. Here’s another animal song, about a man animal.”
Before “The Times They Are A-Changing” it begins to rain: “It’s raining out there? It’s raining here too”.
Thinman includes five tracks as filler from other stops along the tour in similar good but distant sound quality. The final bonus track on this release is the live debut of “Every Grain Of Sand” from Lakeland, Florida on November 21st. That concert was the longest one ever performed by Bob Dylan featuring twenty-eight songs including six encores with many songs from Shot Of Love performed. It is a shame the sound quality is mediocre as it is a definite candidate for a release on a silver bootleg. Thinman also include the complete tour dates in the liner notes which are very helpful.
Hanging In The Balance fills a void since there are few releases from this period in Dylan’s career. The front cover isn’t very attractive with the sepia tint over the close up picture but the sound quality and performance more than make up for that and make this an important release.