– November 30, -0001
Bob Dylan’s catalog contains so many absolute classics (Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Another Side, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, etc) that it’s easy to fall in love with them for decades and forget about his “lesser” albums. You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones that have weak critical ratings. The ones you see piled up in used record stores, but don’t see in your friends’ record collections alongside Bringing It All Back Home and Blood on the Tracks. You might know one or two of their tracks from one of the man’s Greatest Hits collections, but you really aren’t all that curious about the other songs on the album. “Probably just filler,” you may think.I’ve been there. For years, my appreciation of Bob Dylan’s music was deep, but it wasn’t broad. Those classic albums were the soundtrack to my life – to long walks, drinks with friends, quiet listening sessions at home. I loved them, but after hundreds and hundreds of listens, they no longer made my heart skip a beat. Sadly, after so many years of happy listening, I needed something new.So I decided to get some more Dylan albums – the “lesser” ones I mentioned above. I got “New Morning” on vinyl and “Oh Mercy” on CD. I downloaded “Planet Waves” and gave a few more good listens to “The Times They are A-Changin'” (an album I didn’t fully appreciate – beyond the title track – when I first got it). And most pertinently, I bought “Street Legal.” I listened to these albums in full until the songs were familiar and relatable and comfortable. What I found is that the reviews aren’t wrong – these albums aren’t as good as those classics. They have weak tracks, and in some cases, quite a few of them. But every one of these albums is also home to enough great songs to justify purchase and the time investment to appreciate them.That’s certainly the case with “Street Legal.” This album is home to some great tracks and a few that are… less great. It has “Changing of the Guards,” a long-form classic with a propulsive horn riff, provocative lyrics and a tasteful choral group echoing Bob’s outbursts every few seconds. It has “Is Your Love in Vain?” and “Where are You Tonight?” – both of which ask important questions right in their titles! It has “New Pony,” which I’m not in love with. But that’s okay, because Dylan threw in “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” to sweeten the deal.If you’ve only explored the Dylan classics, and you think you’ve hit the end of the line, take a good long look at “Street Legal” and the other albums I’ve mentioned. You may find a whole new batch of Dylan songs to love. I know I did.
– November 30, -0001
– November 30, -0001
This is, in my opinion, one of the best albums Dylan has ever released. The richness of the writing, along with the large band arrangement with top notch musicians and background singers makes this a joy to listen to.The mix on the original vinyl record (and original cd release) was very muddy and annoying, and certainly contributed to this album getting less than stellar reviews when it was originally released back in 1978, but I absolutely wore the grooves out on the album. This remix sounds much better, cleaner and clearer, on the music and vocals as well. Dylan uses his inflection and delivery perfectly, and some of his best singing and lyric writing is on this album. My only complaint with this mix is the music of the second half of the last verse of “Changing Of The Guards” is mixed into the song a second time, which makes the last verse 50% longer than the others and makes the end sound quite fake and disjointed to me.The songs and the playing on this are great. There are some epic songs on this, including “Changing Of The Guards”, “No Time To Think” and “Where Are You Tonight”, but every song is great. I call this Bob’s divorce album, as he describes what it’s like to go through the pain and suffering of lives being torn apart, expressing the hurt, acknowledging some of the responsibility, and trying to maintain at least a little dignity through it all. He admits in “I Think We Better Talk This Over” that “The vows that we kept/are now broken and swept/beneath the bed where we slept”, and wishes that he was a magician so he could “Wave a wand/to tie back the bond/that we’ve both gone beyond”. These are not straight confessional songs, but his divorce certainly helped to bring out some of his best songs. These are powerful, powerful songs, and a better album than “Blood On The Tracks”, which is very good itself. The seventies were a decade for Dylan to write songs about relationships, and this is his best album of the seventies. This album is a must have.
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