Bob Dylan – Trainload Of Fools (Rattle Snake RS085/86)

Trainload Of Fools (Rattlesnake RS085/86)

Zeppelinfeld, Nürnberg, Germany – July 1st, 1978

Disc 1 (70:32):  She’s Love Crazy, Baby Stop Crying, Mr. Tambourine Man, Shelter From The Storm, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Tangled Up In Blue, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Maggie’s Farm, I Don’t Believe You, Like A Rolling Stone, I Shall Be Released, Going Going Gone, A Change Is Gonna Come, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Laissez-Faire

Disc 2 (76:53):  A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later), You’re A Big Girl Now, One More Cup Of Coffee (Valley Below), Blowin’ In The Wind, I Want You, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), Masters Of War, Just Like A Woman, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, All Along The Watchtower, All I Really Want To Do, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), Forever Young, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, The Times They Are A-Changin’

In his first tour of Europe in twelve years Bob Dylan played Nürnberg on July 1st.  Organized by the new “Rock im Park” festival which was established in 1976 with Santana and Chicago, 1978 featured both Eric Clapton and Dylan in front of 80,000 spectators. 

The show is imbued with additional meaning since the Zeppelinfeld was constructed in the thirties and was the site for the Nazi Party rallies between 1933 to 1938 and can be seen in the film Triumph Of The Will.  That a Jewish artist such as Bob Dylan preformed there forty years later provides a special irony for the setting.

Rattle Snake utilize the compete, excellent sounding audience recording.  Part of it first appeared on the LP Featuring Eric Clapton.  According to the label in their liner notes, “We have found the original master tapes in outstanding sound quality and remixed those analog masters through a HDCD processing to a digital perfect result.”  Nürnberg is a beautifully recorded document from this tour which ranks with the London and Paris recordings also in circulation.

The show opens with Tampa Red’s “She’s Love Crazy.”  It was introduced into the set several shows before in Dortmund, but this is the first time it begins the show.  “Thank you! All right, this is a new song, played for you now right at the start” Dylan says in introducing “Baby Stop Crying,” his big hit in Europe from Street Legal and is followed by “Shelter From The Storm” which Dylan describes as “the story of my life.”

The rest of the first half contains standard numbers for the tour, but the performances are outstanding and energetic.  “Going Going Gone” is the final Dylan number of the first half.

Others in the band have their spotlight over the next fifteen minutes.  Carolyn Dennis sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”  Helena Springs sings a cover of Dylan’s own “Love Minus Zero / No Limit” in an arrangement similar to that employed on the tour.  Springs drops the final verse of the song.  Finally, Steven Soles sings “Laissez-faire” which is dedicated to “the crumbling of all monuments. It’s a quiet song. We’ll dedicate it to Edith Piaf, she’s out there tonight.”  (The French singer Édith Piaf of course died fifteen years before this show). 

The second half begins with the only vocal performance of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” which Dylan performs solo on guitar.  There is a loud cheer from the audience in the middle of the piece.  When the band comes back out they play “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later),” the second new song of the set.

One of the more extraordinary performances in the show is “Masters Of War.”  The song about the military-industrial complex had particular meaning in this venue which isn’t lost on Dylan.  As they start he tells the audience that “it gives me great pleasure to sing it in this place!”

Dylan is loquacious for the rest of the show.  He explains how “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” inspires people to say “this is reggae, but it still seems to work pretty well this way. It’s an old song still says the same thing. Actually it’s more Southern Mountain Reggae,” and “All Along The Watchtower” is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.  David Mansfield’s violin is particularly inspired, and afterwards Dylan jokes “I taught him every single note.”

He introduces the band before “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” and before the final song of the set “Forever Young” he explains that “I wish we could stay and play all night, I really I do. But just can’t. This is a tune I recorded on an album with The Band called Planet Waves. I’m gonna leave you with this tune. It means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to you.”

Eric Clapton, who also played a set that day, joins the band onstage for the two song encore “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”  He adds his particular slide blues guitar to the former and a delicate melody to the latter, which is also punctuated by loud pyrotechnics.  It’s a great end to a legendary concert.  Trainload Of Fools is a tremendous, essential release on Rattle Snake.  It’s a wonderful concert, but also a tremendous effort by the label to produce a collectible artifact.   

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