Bob Dylan -- Live in San Diego '79

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Richard--W, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter



    San Diego '79 is missing the opening act by Dylan's gospel chorus. These four girls -- including Clydie King, Regina McCreary, Helena Springs and Monalisa Young-- bravely faced a skeptical and sometimes hostile audience every night, singing six gospel songs that set the keynote and the atmosphere for the evening:

    If I've Got My Ticket, Lord
    It's Gonna Rain
    Look Up And Live By Faith
    Hold My Hand, Oh Lord
    Oh Freedom
    This Train Is Bound For Glory

    Their set required some dramatic acting beyond mere singing, and they worked hard at it. They were absolutely wonderful, and a lasting memory for the many thousands who attended these concerts. It's nothing short of an artistic crime that their opening set is nowhere to be found on Trouble No More. It astonishes me that they've been given such short shrift.

    San Diego '79 has been thoroughly pruned of Dylan's raps and preaching. There were a few brief interactions and two extended raps. His onstage remarks charge the concert with a sense of urgency. Without them, a larger context and a motivation is missing. Removing Dylan's remarks diminishes the feeling of risk and high stakes of the performance. It was no minor thing, Dylan's preaching. Omitting them is a serious error in judgment.

    As an aside, Dylan was a more intense, involved, committed and driven preacher than Michael Shannon. Shannon doesn't have that live current of inspiration coursing through his veins. He doesn't provoke or challenge. Shannon's an excellent actor and no doubt the best choice for the job, but he's no Dylan.

    Aside from that, the San Diego performance is outstanding and memorable. Everybody clicks in perfect unison. They achieve spontaneity. Dylan's vocal is among his finest; these are definitive performances of these songs. It's the best concert performance to find its way on disc since the '66 shows, and that's not saying a little. I thought the cassette tape recorded at the mixing board would have more range, but the fidelity is quite excellent for what it is. I thought the brightness and alchemy of "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" is not captured on the tape. Somehow, the line recording makes the concert sound smaller. The voice doesn't quite fill the room or inhabit your head like being there does. It has a different feel than the audience tapes. More audience presence and participation as captured on the crappy audience tapes relate to the timing and delivery of Dylan's and the band's performance. Perhaps it's a good thing that the audience is dialed down, I don't know.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  2. Electric Sydney

    Electric Sydney Forum Resident

    Scarsdale, NY
    So are you ultimately disappointed with the result? I know you were a San Diego ‘79 believer.
  3. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Machine wrapped in butter.

    London, England
    Are any of these singers called Bob Dylan?

    If not, that might explain why some songs performed by singers who are not Bob Dylan do not appear on a CD credited to Bob Dylan.

    I'd also argue that 'Wiggle Wiggle' is far more of an artistic crime.

    I've said it before, but it might have been more of an error of judgment to make listeners who do not share Bob's views but enjoy the music sit through these extended sermons.
  4. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Nobody is forcing you to sit through anything.
    You don't have to listen if you don't want to.

    Dylan's set extends and expands on the idea established by his opening act. The opening act was his concept, his design, his arrangement and his way of leading into his own set. They were part of the concert, part of the historic moment, and part of the memory for all who attended these shows. There's plenty of room for them on Trouble On More and plenty of room for them on San Diego '79. If that doesn't answer your question I would add that my criticism doesn't need to be defended.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  5. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    Thank you for the breakdown of this release!

    Perhaps there will/should be another CD release that includes the opening act, and in between song introductions, raps, and preaching by Dylan.
    (Obviously, that concert dialogue can be digitally marked as separate tracks,)

    Just a personal opinion -
    When I first glanced at the artwork here, I thought:
    “Oh- this new thread is about a live Dylan bootleg - it’ll get zapped right away by the Gorts,”
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  6. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I am disappointed in the incompleteness of the presentation. They could have at least allowed for one complete and uncensored concert on the bonus disc.

    I'm not disappointed with the music nor with the performance; if anything I'm glad to see my memory and high regard for the concerts reaffirmed, proven to be true
  7. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA

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  8. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Machine wrapped in butter.

    London, England
    Well, if they were included, unless you want to specifically take the time to program those sermon tracks out (if they would be indexed separately), you are being forced to listen to them.

    I want to listen to Bob Dylan the musician, not the judgmental evangelical fella who makes snide remarks about San Francisco. That's what this set delivers, thankfully.

    The solution would/should/could have been to issue a bonus disc a la Tom Waits' Glitter & Doom which contains the spoken material from the concerts all run together.
    Dark Horse 77 and budwhite like this.
  9. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Closet optimist

    Dayton ohio
    Thanks for the review Richard! Looks like a great set
  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter


    This isn't about you and what you want.
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  11. Jbeck57143

    Jbeck57143 Forum Resident

    IL, USA
    If all the talking in between songs was available on an audience recording it could be edited in. Even if the sound quality was very different, at least it would make the show more complete. I can understand them omitting the backup singers performances, since it's a Bob Dylan release. There could be legal issues too. A separate CD of their performances would be nice. Who would own the rights to them though? I've been meaning to make a compilation of all their performances myself.
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Well, a foggy audience tape only repeats what's on the line recording. Since Dylan recorded the concerts he's got his talking between songs, too.
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  13. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Burlington VT USA
    I listened to Disc 1 of San Diego last night, and was very, very impressed and entertained by the performances and the songs. I was unfamiliar with most of the songs, and unless you paid close attention to the lyrics, most listeners would not have surmised that these were gospel songs. Now, I'll admit that I was wondering if the tension between Dylan and his audience would manifest itself, but it did not.

    This particular soundboard recording has the audience 'distant', a la many Grateful Dead official live recordings. The focus is exclusively on the band, the singers. If the 1966 live tour box set was a triumph (in part) because we heard the openly raw tensions between audience and Bob and his band, that same concept/execution is missing from this San Diego disc as edited and presented here.

    In a way, I can't blame Dylan for not presenting the sermons and the hostile audience this time....that hostile audience didn't want to hear Dylan gospel music, and to a large degree that same overt hostility to Dylan's gospel music exists today, proven by a casual glance at the big thread surrounding this box here at this forum. If Dylan's purpose is to force a large number of recalcitrant fans to actually listen to the music itself, and not get caught up in the audience drama surrounding the music, then Dylan has made a good decision with the editing choices made for these live recordings.
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  14. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Machine wrapped in butter.

    London, England
    I think you're projecting there, Richard...;)
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  15. I need this.
  16. willmatic

    willmatic Forum Resident

    I think the omission of an artists remarks extinguishes the essence of a concert and the artist’s state of mind and purpose of the show/music, I care more for authenticity of the moments opposed to whether I agree or disagree with an artist’s opinion during those moments.
  17. gohill

    gohill Forum Resident

    Glasgow, UK
    Well would've preferred the complete and unedited Dylan show with the sermons included, despite being a committed athiest with a strong antipathy to any beliefs in a higher entity. However, just listened to both discs straight through and it's a truly great performance from a really interesting period. Love this bonus disc. Need to crack open the full box now. Great
  18. JohnB

    JohnB Forum Resident

    I prefer the show as it is. Yes, the long spoken raps would be interesting to hear once or maybe twice. But that's it. I can't imagine sitting through the same speeches repeatedly. As for the opening act, well how many official live albums are there out there which include the opening act? Again, probably something I'd listen to once or twice and that's about it.
  19. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Closet optimist

    Dayton ohio
    I think they should have placed The sermons in between tracks but index the tracks were the songs started. That way if you’re listening to the CD without pausing you could hear the sermons but if you want to skip ahead you could do that also. Used to see that a lot on CDs but it doesn’t seem like anyone does it anymore.

    I’m sure Bob didn’t want the sermons to come out as part of his legacy.
  20. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    In this case, the opening act is thematically and musically connected to the main act. The opening act is part of Bob Dylan's statement; he designed it, conceived it, arranged it. Same gospel chorus and same musicians as in the main act. It's not a separate thing.

    The concert itself is so wonderful, it would not have hurt to allow one complete uncensored show on the bonus disc and still leave the box-set as is.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
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  21. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion

    Winchester, UK
    I would like to have the opening act. I would like to have the sermons. But I'm presuming that this is as Dylan in 2017 would like this issued so I take a "glass half full" approach; it is pretty fantastic as-is!

  22. Rob Hughes

    Rob Hughes Forum Resident

    So far, the debate on the exclusion of the sermons has mostly fallen along the lines of those who claim the sermons are historically noteworthy and anyway of a piece with the lyrical content and, on the other hand, those who observe that the sermons would detract from the set given (a) shifts in moral sensibility in the years since 1979 and (b) perhaps the sense that Dylan himself would come off badly in these sermons -- that his strong suit is songwriting and performance and that sermonizing displays a weaker or uglier side of Dylan, the artist and the man.

    In other words, the debate has been played out along the lines of audience wishes. Or else implications of Sony's corporate cowardice for refusing to take a stand on a contentious position in the contemporary Culture Wars.

    It seems possible, however, that Dylan himself has embargoed his old sermons for this release. I think this possibility deserves a little more respect. Certainly Dylan accepts the omission of the sermons. But Dylan might even have nixed them himself. Why would he do that? I don't think we can do more than speculate. But I don't see that we should pin full responsibility for this decision either on Sony or on the sensitivities of the market as Sony perceives it. Maybe it's really just... Bob himself, circa 2017.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  23. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    You raise good points that occurred to me. Whatever the reasons for the censoring, it is unfortunate.

    I enjoyed Dylan's sermons and I enjoyed the opening act. Many people do.

    The concert remains majesterial, in any case.

    The live performances are so much more dynamic and in-your-face than on the albums.
  24. PretzelLogic

    PretzelLogic Machine wrapped in butter.

    London, England
    This is an interesting thought; I'm not familiar with every utterance of the man in interviews, but he seems to be a religious person these days, even if that devotion is not as evident in his music.

    Perhaps, at 76, he's looked back at his 38-40 year old self, and wonders 'what was I thinking?' in the same way I think back with a shudder of embarrassment on my teenage behaviour?
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  25. John D.

    John D. Forum Resident

    I thought this was the whole point of ordering from, to get an extra bonus, complete show, including the sermon by Bob. :confused:
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