In 1978, Bob Dylan began his world tour with three shows at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan. After three concerts in Osaka, Dylan returned to Nippon Budokan for five more shows. Audio from two of the shows (February 28 and March 1) was captured for the live album Bob Dylan at Budokan. Dylan is now revisiting his time in Tokyo for The Complete Budokan 1978. The new collection features all of the songs played on those two nights at Nippon Budokan. Listen to a previously unreleased March 1 recording of “The Man in Me” below.
The Complete Budokan 1978 is out November 17 via Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. The album features restored, remixed, and remastered recordings from the Tokyo concerts. “We mixed the record with the keyword ‘passion’ in mind,” chief engineer Tom Suzuki said in a statement. “The result is a mix that surpasses the original 1978 release, providing a crisper and clearer sound where each instrument and Bob Dylan’s voice are distinctly audible.”
Dylan’s 1978 band at Nippon Budokan included guitarists Billy Cross and Steven Soles, drummer Ian Wallace, keyboardist Alan Pasqua, bassist Rob Stoner, multi-instrumentalist Steve Douglas, saxophonist Steve Douglas, percussionist Bobbye Hall, and vocalists Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, and Debi Dye.
Bob Dylan at Budokan was released in the months following Street-Legal and, like the 1978 studio LP, the live album charted and sold well, but was not especially well received by critics upon its release. Robert Christgau gave the album a C+ rating and wrote, “I believe this double LP was made available so our hero could boast of being outclassed by Cheap Trick, who had the self-control to release but a single disc from this location.” (Cheap Trick’s At Budokan came out in February 1979, two months before Dylan’s live release.)
Writing for Rolling Stone, Janet Maslin had favorable things to say about Live at Budokan, but also criticized the “sanctimonious, Las Vegas-style bastardization of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’” and added, “Can it really be that Bob Dylan had to go all the way to Budokan, to Japan, to find an audience with a short memory, a crowd that didn’t think he had anything to prove? In any case, the jig is up: he’s given up trying to outdo himself and begun something new.”
Retrospectively, Steve Gunn called the Budokan version of “Shelter From the Storm” one of his favorite Dylan songs. “I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by Dylan’s ability to continually reinterpret himself. In this version, the delivery is declarative and minimal, holding a steady line and giving the song a different life than the original,” the guitarist told Stereogum in 2021. “There’s a new confidence, which gives one of my all-time favorite Dylan lines new resonance: ‘I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.’ Dylan’s life is full of comeback waves, and the energy propulsing through this song is testament to his genius for looking deeper into his art.”