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Street Legal [MINIDISC]

76 customer reviews

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BOB DYLAN Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to ... Read more in Amazon's Bob Dylan Store

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Product details

  • Mini-Disc (29 Nov. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B00004Y0LZ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 22 April 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I bought the LP back in `78 I took it home and played it back to back all afternoon, hardly able to believe how stunningly good it was (especially coming after the peerless trio of Planet Waves, Blood on the Tracks & Desire) and over the years have been mystified by the critical mauling it`s received.
One of the things that first drew me to Dylan, as an idealistic boy in the early 60s, was not only his lyrics but the texture of his music. Street-Legal has texture to spare. There`s a generous density to this music, an almost gospelly feel to much of it (his next 3 LPs were the musically rich if lyrically dodgy `religious` albums) and Bob sings his heart out. Just give an ear to what, for me, are two of his greatest songs, True Love Tends to Forget, and the the gloriously cathartic Where Are You Tonight, with its joyous cry at the song`s climax - and the album`s climax too:

"I can`t believe it, I can`t believe I`m alive!"

It`s one of the most exultant moments on any Dylan song.
Then there`s the superb Senor, a long and intricate classic song with a killer opening line:

Senor, senor,
Do you know where we`re headin` -
Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?

The whole song is as fabulously quotable.
What`s so delicious about the whole of Street-Legal (don`t forget that hyphen!) is that it gets better the more it goes on, and the more one listens to it. `Side 2` has what has always sounded to me like a cohesive suite of songs beginning with the wrily wonderful, forcefully sung Is Your Love in Vain? and finishing with the simply astonishing Where Are You Tonight?
This is one Dylan album to play as loud as you dare. I was lucky enough to hear the man himself perform two-thirds of it, loud and in good voice, at Blackbushe Aerodrome in the summer of its release.
I`m playing the CD now as I type this.
God, it`s good!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Aug. 2003
Format: Audio CD
Like most of the others here who have reviewed this I'm a bit perplexed that this album isn't recognised as containing numerous masterpieces. Admittedly the production isn't great, and apparently it was recorded early on during the time these musicians played together, and people who know say they got much better over the following months. If you can ignore the muddy sound- you'll hear great tunes and some of Dylan's best lyrics ever. I like every song although if I had to chose a favourite it would maybe be the closing track 'Journey Through Dark Heat' Where Are You Tonight?'
Obviously poetry and lyrics are open to many different interpretations and it might be me imposing this meaning on this songs words- but I chose to see it as containing a duel narrative- the obvious one about the woman he is missing, but also it seems to me to be about withdrawing from perhaps a drug like heroin- the journey through dark heat... I say that because of phrases such as, "horseplay and disease are killing me by degrees', or 'there's a white diamond gloom on the dark side of this room and a pathway that leads up to the stars, if you don't believe there's a price for this sweet paradise just remind me to show you the scars...'
And if that is one of the meanings one can logically impose on this songs lyrics- well- the narrator gets through it as the song ends and says "...there's a new day at dawn and I've finally arrived, if I'm there in the morning babe you'll know I've survived, I can't believe it, I can't believe I'm alive, but without you it doesn't seem right- oh where are you tonight?"
... Whatever it means- the whole album is filled with wonderful lyrics... Except for the production- perfect and bizarrely underrated.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By E. Byrd on 2 Nov. 2008
Format: Audio CD
I own over 2500 vinyl LPs & Singles & a few hundred CD's. I've been enthralled with music of all genres since age 12. I first listened to "Street Legal" shortly after it's release in 78 and it totally blew me away. This was, is and will always be my favourite piece of music ever. Dylan covers everything in these grooves; lust, love, politics, death, despair, hope and the spirituality that has been an undercurrent in his previous work. No music lover should die without hearing this great album. Forget about the muddy production and the dated brass & backing singers, instead concentrate on that superlative voice, the complex lyrics and the wonderful songs. Dylan's singing has never sounded so committed or powerful. Dylan was at a low point in his personal life when he cut this record proving that genius operates best in the dark. My personal high point is "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey through Dark Heat)" Anyone who has survived the horror of a divorce with kids and/or substance abuse should relate to this epic of despair & hope. Really there is not a single weak track on the record. I went and got myself a SACD player specifically to listen to Street Legal and hear more detail, what more can I cay, you must beg, borrow or buy this record!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mike London on 2 Oct. 2007
Format: Audio CD
STREET-LEGAL has a rather curious history among Dylan fans. Released in 1978, the album met rather mixed reviews, and the actual mix of the album displayed some real sound problems to the point of being very distracting. A lot of people at the time noticed, however, that Dylan was back to writing songs as dense lyrically as anything he wrote in the 1960s. Some critics felt he dressed the songs up in arrangements that worked against the lyrical structures of the song, and the songs would have been much better served had they not been recorded in "Las Vegas" arrangements. The overall critical consensus of the work, STREET LEGAL is a mixed bag, with the big band arrangements, backing vocals, and horn section working in opposition to the very dense lyrics that this album portrays. The critics have a heyday with Dylan's later output, and while some of it is dreck, a lot of it is underrated, even the generally panned 1980s output (mostly EMPIRE BURLESQUE), and this is no exception.

First thing's first, however. When STREET LEGAL was first issued, due to bad recording techniques, the mix was horrible. SL was mixed so badly it didn't even sound like a professional release. Then Don DeVito in 1999 remixed it using digital technology, which greatly enhanced the album. When Columbia remastered and released much of the Dylan catalogue in 2003 on the SACD CDs, STREET LEGAL benefitted the most of all, and now the initial mix problems have all been resolved. It sounds much better. The SACD technology is really amazing.

Second, STREET-LEGAL sports a strong selection of songs. I think had the arrangements been simplified and recorded more in the line of BLOOD, STREET-LEGAL would be considered an unqualified masterpiece.
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