The group of musicians who worked with Dylan on Desire
had gone, and the brief period of reconciliation between Dylan and his wife was over - this album was recorded between tours, with a hurriedly-assembled band.
The result is that Street Legal
's sound is not as 'rich' as Desire
, and the songs are a step down in quality - there's nothing like "Blood on the Tracks" here. Well, maybe a couple songs are worthy, cut from the same cloth, but not much else. In fact, Street Legal
resembles New Morning
- it shares the same Gospel backing, and the same sense of murkiness.
"Senor" is the finest song here from a writing point of view, with a richer and clearer backing track plus a fine Dylan vocal. The other clear standout as far as 'classic' Dylan is concerned, is the opening "Changing of the Guards", whose sound is slightly murky, but it does incorporate a trumpet or two, and has a brilliantly impenetrable set of poetic lyrics and a fine melody to boot.
Nothing else comes close to the quality of those two songs, but even with the lack of new ideas displayed across this record's nine tracks, it still remains an enjoyable listen. However, Dylan's method of recording quickly and capturing a mood simply wasn't working now that recording studios had gotten more complex. Even more worryingly, the new songs he was writing in the wake of Street Legal
were incredibly banal.
Salvation was at hand though, when - during one concert of the Street Legal
tour - somebody threw a small silver cross onto the stage ...Rated:
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews