Review of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Complete Budokan 1978’ Box Set: A Valued Addition, Flutes Included

by Gabriel Martinez
Bob Dylan Budokan Review

Bob Dylan’s fusion of flute and saxophone may not resonate with all listeners.

However, “The Complete Budokan 1978,” an opulent box set, offers a glimpse into this unique blend. It features two live performances at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan Hall from a tour often criticized as “Dylan’s Vegas phase.”

This four-disc collection builds on the 1979 release, “Bob Dylan at Budokan,” captured during the early phase of his extensive 1978 world tour, which followed his highly praised Rolling Thunder tours in the U.S. during 1975-1976 and preceded his conversion to Christianity in 1979.

Interestingly, Dylan attributes a fan’s act of throwing a silver cross on stage in November 1978 as a catalyst for his religious conversion, a topic extensively explored in the 2017 “Trouble No More” box set.

“The Complete Budokan 1978” includes the entire concerts from February 28 and March 1, 1978. Dylan presents his classics in a new light, accompanied by backing vocalists, violin, flute, and saxophone. These renditions, even 45 years later, are notable for their departure from the original recordings.

The concerts commence with an upbeat, violin-led instrumental of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” setting an intriguing tone.

Dylan’s rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” is accelerated, highlighting the flute. In “I Threw It All Away,” the backing singers take a forefront position as Dylan modifies the lyrics. This set also offers a unique chance to experience “All Along the Watchtower” complemented by a flute.

For those unfamiliar with the 1979 live album, this collection might be unexpected. Yet, for avid Dylan enthusiasts who have overlooked this era, there are undiscovered treasures to be found.

Notably, “The Man in Me,” performed live only for the sixth time and featuring new lyrics, is beautifully executed with a saxophone solo. The song “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” from the 1966 album “Blonde on Blonde,” also stands out, revitalized with backing vocals and saxophone.

The set’s presentation is exceptional, including a large 12-by-12 inch photo book, detailed liner notes, and a collection of memorabilia comprising two posters, a replica of the tour program, tickets, and flyers.

AP music reviews: Link

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bob Dylan Budokan Review

What is Bob Dylan’s ‘The Complete Budokan 1978’?

‘The Complete Budokan 1978’ is a deluxe box set featuring two live shows of Bob Dylan at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan Hall from 1978, known for its unique blend of instruments like flute and saxophone.

How does ‘The Complete Budokan 1978’ differ from Dylan’s original recordings?

The box set features dramatically reworked versions of Dylan’s well-known songs with backing singers, violin, flute, and saxophone, offering a strikingly different experience from the original recordings.

What special items are included in the ‘The Complete Budokan 1978’ box set?

The set includes an expansive 12-by-12 inch photo book, detailed liner notes, and memorabilia such as two posters, a replicated tour program, tickets, and flyers.

Are there any notable performances in ‘The Complete Budokan 1978’?

Yes, the box set includes unique renditions of songs like “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “All Along the Watchtower,” showcasing Dylan’s experimental approach during this period.

What is the significance of the fan throwing a silver cross at Dylan in 1978?

This incident, occurring during one of the 1978 concerts, is noted by Dylan as a factor that contributed to his conversion to Christianity, a topic explored in another box set, ‘Trouble No More.’

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DylanFan83 November 14, 2023 - 6:20 am

Love this review! can’t wait to get my hands on the box set… Dylan’s music from the 70s is underrated imo.

MusicLover101 November 14, 2023 - 9:08 am

is it just me or does the sax and flute seem like a weird choice for Dylan songs? gotta hear it to believe it

ClassicRockJunkie November 14, 2023 - 12:09 pm

Got the ‘Trouble No More’ set last year, it was fantastic, this one sounds like it’s gonna be great too, Dylan’s a legend!

VinylCollector November 14, 2023 - 2:55 pm

Interesting, didn’t know about the silver cross story, Dylan’s always full of surprises…


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