The Blood Of The Lamb (Apocalypse Sound AS 202)
Saturday Night Live, NBC studios NY, – October 20th, 1979:
Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, When You Gonna Wake Up
Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – April 20th, 1980:
Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, When He Returns, Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody, Coverdown Breakthrough, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Precious Angel, Slow Train, Stranger In The City (sung by Mona Lisa Young), Walk Around Heaven All Day (sung by Mary Bridget), Do Right To Me Baby, Solid Rock, Saving Grace, Saved, What Can I Do For You?, In The Garden, Are You Ready?, Pressing On
Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – April 19th, 1980:
I Will Love Him
David Letterman, NBC studios NY – March 22nd, 1984:
Don’t Start Me Talkin’, License To Kill, Jokerman
TV3 broadcast, Barcelona, Spain – June 28th, 1984:
Like A Rolling Stone, Mr. Tambourine Man, Don’t Think Twice, Blowin’ In The Wind
Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity in 1978 is still one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of pop music. It is startling not because of the actual conversion but for its vehemence. It wasn’t a simple change in topic in his song writing, but it was the evangelic zeal for which his music became the vehicle.
The Blood Of The Lamb is a very good DVD documenting this era. The first public expression of Dylan’s conversion was his spot on “Saturday Night Live.” It was telecast on NBC on October 20th, 1979 with Eric Idle as the host of the show. He performs three songs from the new album Slow Train Coming. “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe In You” and, by the end of the show, “When You Gonna Wake Up.”
Dylan doesn’t crack a smile until the very end when he’s shaking Idle’s hand during the closing credits.
The bulk of the release is occupied with the pro-shot footage from Massey Hall in Toronto. Taped on April 20th, 1980 during the third gospel tour, it seems to be for a proposed project which never really materialized. There are several cameras in the production offering very good close up shots of Dylan and the other musicians as well as farther, panoramic scenes of the stage.
It is the best footage of a gospel show available and essential to have. Unfortunately Apocalypse Sound use an incomplete version of the tape. Before “Saved” Dylan goes off on a long rant about his reinstatement in Arizona the previous year. It is a startling moment which encapsulates the gospel era, but unfortunately is missing from this release. It is present on the older silver title Gospel Tour (Way Of The Wizard WOW-018).
The quality on Apocalypse Sound is a noticeable improvement over the WOW release, but it would have been improved if the apocalyptic rap would have been spliced from a higher generation.
Otherwise, this is a very good performance. He plays several rarities such as “Ain’t Going To Hell For Anybody,” “Cover Down Break Through” and “I Will Love Him” from the April 19th Toronto show. None of these songs were ever officially recorded and released.
The bonus clips include two videos from 1984, five years after the conversion and the first time Dylan seemed to lighten up his evangelical stance.
First present is the complete appearance on the March 22nd, 1984 David Letterman show. This was to promote the recently released Infidels LP, and he plays the Sonny Boy Williamson cover “Don’t Start Me Talking” and two songs from the new album, “License To Kill” and “Jokerman.” All the songs are played with an ad hoc punk / garage band with very rough overtones. May point out this to be Dylan at his most adventurous.
The final clip comes from Spanish television in June 1984 featuring tunes from the June 28th show in Barcelona. Lasting twenty minutes, there is a video history of Dylan during “Like A Rolling Stone” and Carlos Santana joins Dylan for “Blowin In The Wind.” It’s a very nice document from his 1984 tour of Europe.
Overall this is all material that every Dylan collector should have in his collection. The Blood Of The Lamb presents these four clips in the best available video quality.