In my opinion Bob Dylan At Budokan is an overlooked classic which is too often derided because he was experimenting with a very different sound on this album and the studio LP Street Legal.
I love it.
Bob Dylan At Budokan Overall Rating – 26/30
This is Bob Dylan with a Las Vegas style review with plenty of brass and female backing singers.
It is an album I often go back to when I want to hear some Dylan.
Set List Rating – 10/10
In my view, Bob Dylan had three peaks:
- His early acoustic folk
- His electric folk albums – Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde
- His mid seventies revival with Blood On The Tracks and Desire
Live At Budokan pulls many of the great tracks from these three eras with a close to perfect set list and then gives some of the songs a dramatic overhaul.
This is what you get on the album
- Mr. Tambourine Man – 4:54 (from the Bringing It All Back Home album)
- Shelter from the Storm – 4:30 (Blood On The Tracks)
- Love Minus Zero/No Limit – 3:52 (Bringing It All Back Home)
- Ballad of a Thin Man – 4:47 (Highway 61 Revisited)
- Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right – 4:55 (The Freewheelin Bob Dylan)
- Maggie’s Farm – 5:06 (Bringing It All Back Home)
- One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) – 3:19 (Desire)
- Like a Rolling Stone – 6:31 (Highway 61 Revisited)
- I Shall Be Released – 4:12 (Basement Tapes)
- Is Your Love in Vain? – 4:02 (Street Legal)
- Going, Going, Gone – 4:22 (Planet Waves)
- Blowin’ in the Wind – 4:25 (The Freewheelin Bob Dylan)
- Just Like a Woman – 5:03 (Blonde On Blonde)
- Oh, Sister – 4:44 (Desire)
- Simple Twist of Fate – 4:15 (Blood On The Tracks)
- All Along the Watchtower – 3:20 (John Wesley Harding)
- I Want You – 2:34 (Blonde On Blonde)
- All I Really Want to Do – 3:37 (Another Side Of Bob Dylan)
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – 4:00 (Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid)
- It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – 6:04 (Bringing It All Back Home)
- Forever Young – 5:38 (Planet Waves)
- The Times They Are a-Changin – 5:31 (The Times They Are a-Changin)
By 1978 Bob Dylan had an outstanding back catalogue of songs and while there will be favourites missing, I think this is a terrific list of songs. yes I’d have liked Tangled Up In Blue, Hurricane, Lay Lady Lay, Positively 4th Street and a few other early songs on it, I wouldn’t want to drop much.
Unfortunately he didn’t have a reputation like Bruce Springsteen for playing for 3 or 4 hours.
Performance Rating 9/10
Purists will be shocked at what the Zimm does with his own songs but if anybody has the right to play around with these classics, it is Bob Dylan.
That’s partly what live albums and indeed live concerts are about. If I want to hear the studio version of a song, I’ll play the original LP.
As you read my reviews, you’ll learn that I’m a sucker for saxophone in particular and brass in general to liven up the guitar and keyboards sounds. There’s plenty here on this album.
And plenty of backing singers to round out the sound even more.
I think these arrangements put the emphasis more on the beautiful melodies and tunes that Dylan has written and less on the poetic lyrics.
The highlights? Well I like pretty much it everything on this album.
I want You with a flute playing in the background is so beautiful.
It’s Alright Mama I’m Only Bleeding is powerful and deserves to be played loud.
Shelter From The Storm is warmed by lovely sax playing.
You need to hear the album to truly appreciate just how different these versions are.
On the downside, I miss the traditional snarling aggression on Ballad Of A Thin Man and Like A Rolling Stone.
Atmosphere & Authenticity Rating – 7/10
Many are shocked at what Bob Dylan has done on this album.
There’s ying and yang at work here.
On the one hand, the originality in these versions and the variation from the studio albums is inspiring but…
It’s hardly the authentic Bob Dylan sound, either as a folkie or the leader of a dynamic rock band.
Personally I really like it but I also understand why some people reel away from Bob Dylan At Budokan.
Total Rating For Bob Dylan At Budokan – 26/30
Was Bob Dylan wrong to go electric in 1965 despite the controversy it created?
No he created some of the most highly rated albums ever.
And was he wrong to put his songs in a big band arrangement in 1978?
If you give At Budokan a chance and listen to it with an open mind I think you are going to be thrilled.
Dylan sounds happy playing with his band in 1978 and listening to At Budokan makes me happy.
What Do Other People Say About Dylan Live At Budokan?
It does have plenty of 5 star ratings at Amazon.com so I’m not on my own for loving this album.
Buying Bob Dylan At Budokan
To help you to find the album quickly and easily, I’ve given you the following links::
What Do You Think About At Budokan by Bob Dylan?
I’d like to know what you think about this album?
Are the critics right and Bob Dylan sold out to make money?
Or do you agree with me that this is a much-overlooked album that is outstanding?
Is it even the best live album by Bob Dylan
What Are the Best Live Albums Ever?
I ask readers to help me to find the best live albums by voting in polls.
The two that are most relevant to Bob Dylan At Budokan are:
Because there are so many excellent classic rock live albums I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.
You can see the complete list of readers polls at Live Album Polls