Live By Faith (Thinman-020/021)
Santa Monica Civic Center, Santa Monica, CA – November 18th, 1979
Disc 1: Monologue (Regina Havis), I’ve Got My Ticket Lord, It’s Gonna Rain, Do Lord Remember Me, Look Up and Live By Faith, Oh Freedom, This Train, 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
Disc 2: Covenant Woman, What are You Doing With Your Heart (Helena Springs), Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking, Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others), Solid Rock, Saving Grace, Saved (Bob Dylan/Tim Drummond), What Can I Do For You?, In The Garden, Blessed Be The Name, Pressing On
Up until now there have been two incomplete audience recordings circulating for Bob Dylan’s first gospel show in Santa Monica on November 18th. Thinman have, for Live By Faith, found and finally released for all to enjoy the long-exist-to-exist complete audience source. It is very close to the stage and very clear. The only negative about it is the high amount of hiss, but that disappears once the captivating performance begins. Like with the others Regina Havis begins with the “ticket” story leading into “I’ve Got My Ticket Lord”. The tape very audibly reveals the audience at first assaulting her with catcalls and heckling (“ROCK AND ROLL!!” one guy yells out to much laughter). But by “Do Lord Remember Me”, a fast gospel number with tambourines the audience are up on their feet, clapping along proving the central truth that it is impossible to hate gospel music.
The traditional Negro spiritual “This Train” is the perfect segway into Dylan’s set and his then current hit “Gotta Serve Somebody” where he spits out the lyrics. His entire set is well rehearsed and some of the numbers that gave him trouble in San Francisco like “Covenant Woman” and “What Can I Do For You?” are tight. Before “Slow Train” Dylan gives a little sermon: “Thank you. I suppose you’ve been reading the newspapers and watching the TV? And you see how much trouble this world is in. Madmen running loose everywhere. Anyway we, we’re not worried about that though — it doesn’t bother us — because we know this world is going to be destroyed. Christ will set up his kingdom for a thousand years in Jerusalem where the lion will lie down with the lamb — we know this is true. No doubt about it. So, it’s a slow train coming. It’s been coming for a long time. Ah, but it’s picking up speed.” (Just an aside, this is a philosophy called “pre-millennial dispensationalist” advocated by Hal Lindsey, who was influential with Dylan’s thinking about this time).
The only noticeable miscue this evening comes during the second chorus of “Solid Rock” where Dylan surprises the band by jumping in on a new cadence, but they recover nicely. Before “Saved” Dylan says, “All right, you know Satan, he . . . We wrestle now against flesh and blood, but it’s all happening at a spiritual level. Satan is called the god of this world and, as you look around, you have much proof to see that he really is the god of this world. But, for those of you who don’t know . . . I’d be curious to know, how many of you do know or, how many of you don’t know, that Satan himself has been defeated at the cross? Does everybody know that? Huh, at least, ah, at least we’re not alone!” This is a great show from Dylan’s gospel period and Thinman have produced an instant classic with this release. At the very least the complete tape is here adding more to the overall picture to this period, but the concert and sound quality is so enjoyable it makes this a must own. (GS)
Nice review by GS. He nails the essential elements of the show here. This audience tape is so good that when I first played the cd I thought it was a soundboard recording! As a document of Dylan’s gospel shows, I actually prefer this to the more famous 1980 Toronto concert. To my ears, both Bob and his band sound more intense and fired up in Santa Monica. This excellent set offers further proof that Dylan’s gospel period was one of his best as a live performer.