Bob Dylan – Tokyo Legal (Godfather Records GR 309/310)

Tokyo Legal (Godfather Records GR 309/310)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – March 2nd, 1978
Disc 1 (63:28):  A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (instrumental), Love Her With A Feeling, Mr. Tambourine Man, I Threw It All Away, Shelter From The Storm, Love Minus Zero, Girl Of The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Maggie’s Farm, To Ramona, Like A Rolling Stone, I Shall Be Released, Is Your Love In Vain, Going Going Gone

Disc 2 (62:36):  One Of Us Must Know, Blowin’ In The Wind, Just Like A Woman, Oh Sister, Simple Twist Of Fate, You’re A Big Girl Now, All Along The Watchtower, The Man In Me, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Forever Young, The Times They Are A-Changin’

Tokyo Legal is the latest Bob Dylan release on Godfather Records.  There are two audience recordings in circulation for the March 2nd show in the Budokan.  The first is a fair to good but distant and muffled audience recording and was recently released on the six CD set Another Side Of Budokan.  The second tape, which Godfather use, is much superior sounding.  It is closer to the stage and the music is much more clear with presence and atmosphere.  The beginning of “Hard Rain” is cut are there is noticeable microphone handling nose form the taper, digital noise (on the original tape) at 2:47 and 4:35 in “Mr. Tambourine Man,” a volume increase at the beginning of “Love Minus Zero,” a pop at 31 and 2:42 of “Girl Of The North Country,” an edit between “Maggie’s Farm” and “To Ramona,” a pop in “To Ramona” and a glitch at 4:25.

All three shows in Japan open with an instrumental version of “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” set to a four-to-the-floor high hat disco beat with the guitar, Hammond organ and violin taking the melody in turn before Dylan comes out on stage. The Red Tampa tune “Love Her With A Feeling” opens all of these shows and is followed by a hard driving version of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” The Japan concerts are the debut for the new reworking of Blood On The Tracks “Shelter From The Storm” recast as a stomping litany.

Some of the arrangements reveal the seeds for his born-again experience later in the year and can be seen in arrangements such as this. “To Ramona,” which appears in a majority of the Japanese shows, is played in March 2nd for the final time on this tour and makes it only appearance in this set. “Is Your Love In Vain?” is introduced as a new song that has never been played before. Some of the arrangements don’t really work like the “Blowin’ In The Wind” with a bit too much schmaltz. The rearranged version of “Oh Sister,” on the other hand, is very daring and would unfortunately be dropped after the European tour that summer. “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is another song with a heavy disco beat, and the set ends with “Forever Young.” Before the encore Dylan says, “Here’s a song I wrote in 1963. It still means a lot to me” before “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

Just as Another Side Of Budokan is the first silver release of the first tape source, Tokyo Legal is the first release of the second, better sounding tape recording.  It is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard sleeve with several photographs from the tour and the font on the front duplicates that used for Street Legal.  There have been several releases lately from Dylan’s tours in 1978, a time that has been maligned in the past.  These documents reveal many fascinating performances for the period.   

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