The Michigan Daily-Sunday, October 15, 1978-Page 7
By MIKE TAYLOR
Bob Dylan has written more good
songs than anyone else in popular
music-songs like "Like a Rolling
Stone," "It Ain't Me Babe," and "All
Along the Watchtower," songs that
leave you in awe, begging for more..
Each new Dylan LP is treated as an
'event in the music community, even if
it's an over-wrought clunker like Street-
Legal or Self Portrait.
Until recently, that is until Friday
evening, when I saw him at Olympia in
Detroit, I thought Dylan had a fine sen-
se for rock'n'roll. After all, it was he
who helped electrify folk music,
revolutionizing rock music in general,
he who was kicked out of the Newport
Folk Festival in 1965 for playing with
electric instruments, he who toured
triumphantly a year later with the
Band, he who toured just as triumphan-
tly with the Band eight years later, he
who led that rock'n'roll circus called
the Rolling Thunder Revue.
BUT FRIDAY NIGHT Dylan had the
same clumsy band he used on Street-
Legal with him. He put on a two-and-a-
half hour, 24-song show that was so
slick, so lifeless that I had to wonder if
he wasn't headed for a week in Vegas at
the end of the tour. He did songs from
almost all of his albums, but for the
most part he did them as showl tunes
rather than rock'n'roll songs.
For someone unfamiliar with Dylan's
music, the show must have been quite a
treat. That's the only way I can explain
the intense applause that followed each
song. But for anyone who loves Dylan,
it was a nightmare. For years, pop
stylists have destroyed Dylan's art with
flippant, insincere renditions of his
classics; Friday night, Dyland was
doing it himself.
a bit o'
it had nothing much to say. "All Along
the Watchtower" was butchered by
David Mansfield's electric fiddle and
Steve Douglas' flute. And "All I Really
Want to Do" was so bouncy I was sur-
prised when Lawrence Welk failed to
enter stage left.
But it was not all terrible. A reggae
version of "One More Cup of Coffee"
had it all over the original, but then I've
never liked that song. "Masters of
War" was almost heavy-metal in its at-
tack, which might have offended some
genuine folkies in the audience, but I
liked its renewed strength. "It's
Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" was
so exciting as a rock song that it made
me wonder why the band was unable to
kick it out on the rest of the songs.
"I wrote this song a few years back
for one of my babies," said Dylan as he
moved into the finale, a graceful
"Forever Young." The encore was
"Changing of the Guards," Streeta
Legal's merriest number. It wasn'
hard to digest.
I left the show feeling angry and con
fused, upset that an artist I've admirec
for years, even worshipped at times
had put on such a flatulent show. Wassi'
age, or just poor taste? Well, maybe
next time. Me, I've got my finger
2 5% off
1229 S. Univ.
Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
Bob~ Dylan with band members and back-up singers at Olympia Stadium Friday night.
SHE STOOPS To CONUER.
1 "li itriiig XXII.I.I.1N1I.IIQACI
The show opened with an instrumen-
tal version of "My Black Pages."
Clearly designed to show off the band,
everyone, including Steve Douglas on
sax and Billy Cross on lead guitar, got
solos. But the playing was cold and
rigid. No wonder! One look at the
musicians' faces showed they'd rather
be somewhere else. And this was only
the first song!
AS THE SONG drew to a close,
Dylan, accompanied by three back-up
singers, strode to the stage and kicked
into an abyssmal version of Muddy
Waters' "I'm Ready." Not quite the
blues, not quite rock, it just sounded
stiff. Next up was "Is Your Love in
Vain?" a pleasant enough tune
from Street-Legal. "Shelter from the
Storm" started out well, but as soon as
the back-up singers came in all was
lost; it sounded artificial.
Although I didn't hear anyone, I bet
many folks cried inside when Dylan un-
veiled his 1978 version of "Tangled Up
in Blue." Dylan had slowed down the
tempo, and abandoned the original
melody. The result? An ineffectual tor-
ch song. A jaunty new arrangement of
"Ballad of a Thin Man" was easier to
take, but it was still hopelessly super-
ficial compared to the original cut and
the live version on Before the Flood.
The next three numbers made me
wonder what had happened to Dylan's
rhythm. "Maggie's Farm," "Like a
Rolling Stone," and "I Shall be
Released" somehow managed to sound
sloppy and slick at the same time. The
tension, the power all three once had
never made - it through the obese
arrangements each was burdened with.
THE BAND LEFT Dylan alone to
sing "It Ain't Me Babe," but he sang
the words without any evidence of sin-.
cerity. "Girl From The North Country"
and "Blowin' in the Wind" had a
peaceful quality to them, but still Dylan
was unable to convince me he was
doing anything more than going
through the motions.
A new song, "Renardo's Stepchild,"
sounded no stronger than any of the
material on Street-Legal. "Where Are
You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark
Heat)" was pretty, but like the original,
d.-St., ( ct. 18-21,
S-i., Oct. 22,
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