Bob Dylan – Live In ’81 Earls Court (Raz Records #68)

Live In ’81 Earls Court (Raz Records #68)

Earls Court, London, England – June 28th, 1981

Disc 1 (59:23):  Come On In This House, It’s Gonna Rain, Show Me The Way Lord, Saved By The Grace Of Your Love, Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, Till I Get It Right, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Maggie’s Farm, Simple Twist Of Fate, Dead Man Dead Man, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Girl From The North Country

Disc 2 (69:02):  Slow Train, Walk Around Heaven All Day, Mary From The Wild Moor (traditional) All Along The Watchtower, In The Summertime, Mr. Tambourine Man, Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, Watered-Down Love, Forever Young, When You Gonna Wake Up, In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (acoustic), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Raz Records debuts a brand new, never circulated audience tape for Bob Dylan’s June 28th, 1981 show in Earls Court.  The sound quality is excellent and except for a tape crinkle thirty-three seconds in “Come On In This House”  is close to flawless.  It is slightly more clear than the excellent tape used on Ways Of The Flesh (Thinman-048/49) issued some years ago.  And unlike the older tape, this one includes all of the non-Dylan gospel numbers.  Two songs, “Solid Rock” and “Just Like A Woman” are missing but Raz use the Thinman release to fill in the gap.  The front cover says this is a stereo soundboard but that is an error.  It is packaged in a tri-fold digipack with slick glossy paper used for the cover.

This tour is known as the one where Dylan began to add older songs to the set as he slipped into Shot Of Love, the third of the “gospel trinity.” The set list follows the general pattern of the tour with “Gotta Serve Somebody” serving as the opener, followed by the mellow “I Believe In You” and the first classic “Like A Rolling Stone.” Regina Havis sings “‘Till I Get It Right.” “Man Gave Names To The Animals” and “Maggie’s Farm” are played consecutively and serve as a lapsarian diptych. The former speaks about the blessed state in the Garden Of Eden in Genesis 2 and mankind’s communion with God, and the latter speaking about the consequences of original sin and to live by the “sweat of your brow” in Genesis 3.

“Simple Twist Of Fate” is given a flighty soft rock arrangement with a gorgeous piano melody underneath the vocals. Afterwards Dylan says, “This is a new song off a forthcoming record album. I hope it’s on the album anyway. It’s called ‘Dead Man, Dead Man When Will You Arise.’ I wrote quite a few new songs I thought I’d play them because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be playing new songs. People wanna hear the old songs. I was thinking of cutting out all the new songs. So I can play, I’m gonna play just older stuff. This time here in London I’m gonna play all the new songs so in case they never get heard again.”

“Ballad Of A Thin Man” has the same doom laden arrangement as in the past. Dylan switches to acoustic guitar for “Girl From The North Country” and sounds beautiful in this recording. Carolyn Dennis sings “Walk Around Heaven All Day” which she dedicates to “Bob and all the members in the band and especially Miss Clydie King.” The following song is normally the newly written “Lenny Bruce,” but for the only time it is dropped from the set list to be replaced by “Mary From The Wild Moor.” Dylan introduces the song by saying, “We’re gonna play a real old song here. A song I used to sing before I used to write any songs. I used to sing this in the Troubadour. I don’t know if that club is still called The Troubadour? Well it’s the same way we used to sing it then, hasn’t changed a bit.”

It is sung as a duet with Regina Havis and was regularly played in the autumn 1980 tour in the States, but receives its only airing of this tour in this show. “All Along The Watchtower” receives its European debut and “In The Summertime” from the new album has its world debut. “In The Garden,” with band introduction is the set closer and is followed by a three song encore set. “I’m Alright Ma” is played alone by Dylan with acoustic guitar and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is played in reggae style, although not the Arthur Brown arrangement played several years before by both him and Eric Clapton.

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  1. This is a excellent release in packaging, sound quality and performance. The audience goes wild during”It’s Alright Ma”.


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