Osaka 1978 (Thinman-009/010)
Matsushita Denki Taiikukan, Osaka, Japan – February 25, 1978
Disc 1: A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, Lonesome Bedroom Blues, Mr. Tambourine Man, I Threw It All Away, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Ballad Of A Thinman, Shelter From The Storm, Girl Of The North Country, Maggie’s Farm, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, To Ramona/Like A Rolling Stone, I Shall Be Released, Going Going Gone, One Of Us Must Know
Disc 2: Blowin’ In The Wind, Just Like A Woman, Oh Sister, You’re A Big Girl Now, All Along The Watchtower, I Want You, One Too Many Mornings, All I Really Want To Do, Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, It’s Alright (I’m Only Bleeding), Forever Young, The Times They Are A-Changin’
Thinman’s Osaka 1978 documents the second of Bob Dylan’s three night stay in the Japanese city, sandwiched between extended engagements at the Budokan in Tokyo. This tape has circulated on the trading circuit, seeing a CDR release as One Of Us Must Go To Osaka, but this is the silver disc debut of this rare concert. The official live LP At Budokan was recorded soon after this and captures Dylan during his “Vegas” period which is divisive, which actually describes Dylan’s entire career.
But this tour produced such oddball arrangements that it still has the power to shock and offend. The source utilized is a very good, slightly muffled, audience recording. There are a couple of tape flips throughout the show like at the end of “Blowin’ In The Wind” and during the band introduction before “It’s Alright (I’m Only Bleeding)”. This show contains the only performance of “One Too Many Mornings” during the 1978 World Tour which is played poorly and reveals the limitations of this touring outfit.
People have such strong feelings about this tour because every song has been changed from its original form. It’s a lot to digest during the course of a two hour-long concert. Attending a concert implies a great deal of trust in the artist that he’ll safely take you on a musical journey (to paraphrase Robert Fripp). When an artist chooses to rearrange well-known songs he must know what he’s doing and to be aware of the potential affect upon the audience.
Dylan, above any artist, had dealt with this reality for over a decade up to 1978. Hearing “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, perhaps one of the best spiritual rock songs ever, written as a reggae with a flute is a bit much to ask. Or hearing “Just Like A Woman”, a very tender love song, as a lush ballad with backup singers and “Oh Sister” played as a one-chord rocker is bound to bring confusion. After spending the afternoon listening through this twice I really like what I heard. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is very catchy with that infectious flute line and found the entire concert very enjoyable.
Dylan doesn’t speak much to the audience, but before “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” he says, “Thank you. I wanna introduce one of our favorite singers. She’s here tonight. Oh, Odetta ! Odetta she’s out there somewhere. I used to listen to her when I was growing up. Oh, some of you know? It wasn’t so long ago. This is one that she used to sing”
“Thank you. That’s the way she used to do it back then” afterwards. The complete band in this show are: Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar), Billy Cross (lead guitar), Alan Pasqua (keyboards), Steven Soles (rhythm guitar, backup vocals), David Mansfield (violin & mandolin), Steve Douglas (horns), Rob Stoner (bass), Bobbye Hall (percussion), Ian Wallace (drums), Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, Debbie Dye (background vocals).
Osaka 1978 is very tastefully packaged by Thinman with pictures from the tour on semi-thick, glossy paper. The overall presentation shows they really care about their product and this is another highly recommended release.