The story goes that Columbia proposed recording Bob Dylan's five mid-April 1980 performances at Toronto's Massey Hall for an official live album and concert film, and while no official release ever materialized, the existence of multi-camera video footage lends credence to the rumor, as does the professional-quality sound of the two-disc bootleg release Gospeller, which documents the April 20 gig in its entirety. While the Massey Hall residency heralded Dylan's return to live performance following a two-month break that yielded the Saved LP, he and an exemplary backing band led by keyboardist Spooner Oldham and drummer Jim Keltner pick up right where they left off. Rarely has Dylan seemed so energized and focused, shedding some of the fire-and-brimstone proselytizing of his previous gospel outings and letting the sheer conviction of his art do the preaching. Whatever the failings of Dylan's studio gospel LPs, on-stage he summoned the true power and glory of old-time religion, communicating the true depth of his new Christian convictions with uncommon soulfulness. Listeners seeking this particular performance are steered to Flashback's The Born Again Music, which features the same content along with improved sound, although Gospeller deserves kudos for its striking packaging.
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