Street Legal by Bob Dylan

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Street Legal by Bob Dylan
Street Legal by Bob Dylan

Album Released: 1978

Street Legal ::: Artwork

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1.Changing Of The Guards6:36
2.New Pony4:28
3.No Time To Think8:19
4.Baby Stop Crying5:17
5.Is Your Love In Vain?4:30
6.SeƱor (Tales Of Yankee Power)5:42
7.True Love Tends To Forget4:14
8.We Better Talk This Over4:04
9.Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)6:16


The worst thing I can say about Street Legal is that most of the songs seem to go on for too long.

The opening track “Changing of the Guards” for instance, lasts seven minutes while only giving us a marginally hooky melody, and the backing band sound like fairly ordinary bar-rock. I enjoy it fully for about three minutes, but after that I'm wondering why he's staying with it.

Sure, Dylan's done lengthy songs like that in the past (such as “Hurricane” from his previous album), but they've never been this uninteresting. “New Pony” - a slow blues - only lasts about four minutes, and it's OK, but I'm ready for it to end by one and a half. Dylan used to make blues music with such verve, as though him and the blues were fine feathered friends. While that song is hardly terrible, it's entirely ho-hum.

As it turns out, I'm about the 10,409,594th person to write that Street Legal was the first wholly mediocre album of Dylan's career (he released a few similarly underwhelming albums previously to this, but at least those ones had interesting stories behind them).

Unfortunately, I don't have an opinion sufficiently different to differ from the consensus, though I'll add the caveat that we should use 'poor' in relative terms; Street Legal would be perfectly acceptable if it were released by practically anyone else in the world. It's the curse of the songwriting genius - we expect pure inspiration out of him 100% of the time. But even if I don't expect pure genius out of him, I'd at least appreciate it if he'd allotted more time for those squawking female backup singers to practice. I don't understand the appeal of them not knowing when they're supposed to come in.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

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 ...

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)