The Bob Dylan Lounge Sound
I don’t get it? In 1978, as I reported here, Dylan released one of his coolest and most passionate albums of all time called: “Street Legal.” Most of the U.S. critics did not get that album at all and I will admit for them that as of 2012…they were just wrong. However, I just listened to a live album by Dylan recorded the exact same year called: “Bob Dylan Live At Budokan” that is so horrible, it made me question my own judgement about this great artist!
Complete with most of the musicians that played on “Street Legal” (sadly), this album plays like a broken down lounge band complete with guys in leisure suits and white patent leather shoes. The flute playing through many of the songs is just too much to bare. Even the three female background singers cannot save this recording.
Many Dylan classics are taken on here such as a reggae version of “Knockin On Heavens Door.” Right Bob…were gonna buy that? In fact, many of the classic Dylan arrangements are destroyed by various funky reggae beats that just do not fit the songs. Dylan sounds about as passionate as a wet rag on this thing which leads me to believe he knew it was bad. But why would Bob Dylan do such a thing to his own music? Could it be that he was trying to sabotage Columbia records at the time? Then he does a complete 360 and releases a masterpeice like “Street Legal” the same year?
And, speaking of “Street Legal”, the only song on “Budokan” that is even listenable is the fantastic: “Is Your Love In Vain.” Although played at a slower pace than on “Street Legal”, it still holds up. Dylan introduces it like this: “Here’s one that isn’t even recorded…see if you can guess which one this is? Then, they go into the song.
What I really do not understand, is, if Dylan had all the “Street Legal” material ready by 1978, why didn’t he record that live at Budakon? Really makes me wonder. Could it have been the Producers idea…Don Devito, the same guy who produced “Street Legal?”
This all happened exactly one year before Dylan put out his first Christian album…1979’s “Slow Train A Comin.'” Maybe Bob was either mentally disturbed by something going on in his private life or he could have run into a snow storm (if you know what I mean)? The era was right for the infamous blow for sure.
Whatever the reason for “Live At Budokan”, we will probably never know for sure knowing the secretive Mr. Zimmerman. I guess we were all lucky to get “Street Legal” from the same year.