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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Senor Dylan
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...
Published on 22 April 2010 by GlynLuke

versus
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was persuaded to buy this after reading a review on line.
I've been a fan of Dylan since my Dad brought home The Times They Are A-changin' soon after it was released. I hadn't heard this album so I checked out some opinions on the web and one said his initial impression was not good but after persisting it is now amongst his favourites. I played this a few times but sadly it is not growing on me. I suggest you borrow someone...
Published 21 months ago by I. Josephson


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Senor Dylan, 22 April 2010
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Street-Legal (Audio CD)
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect except for the production, 11 Aug 2003
By A Customer
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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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dylan's Masterpiece and my all time favourite album., 2 Nov 2008
By 
E. Byrd - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Gem, 18 Mar 2005
By 
John Heaton (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Street-Legal (Audio CD)
This was always a great Dylan album, let that first be said. But this remastered recording is even better if that were possible. The main grumble us Dylan fans had with this record was in its rather murky production. It is not often that a Remaster can add much value to the original but this is one case where the difference is certainly noticeable and this reissue basically catipults this album up to the same level as 'Blood On The Tracks' and 'Desire' no less in my opinion. And so completing the perfect trilogy we always suspected was there in the first place. The songs were already there in my opinion, but it was only the muddy production which prevented this album from being regarded as on a par with those two timeless albums.
No Longer.
Indeed. if the quality of the opening track 'Changing Of The Guards' were to have been maintained throughout the album we would most likely be talking about 'Street Legal' as some kind of Zenith of Dylan's entire career. As it is the rest of the album is not of the same sublime quality as this quite incredible opening track. But what a track. Jesus. I reckon this track is up there with his very best. With its deeply moving if inpenetrable lyric and rousing melody this is up there in Dylan's Top Five Songs ever in my opinion.
'New Pony' is an acquired taste. But it is raucous and biting in its impact, such a great vindictive lyric (if you're not Sara on the receiving end that is of course). The sax and guitar solos are suitably dirty, perfectly matching the malicious lyrics. But just as one feels guilty rejoicing in such a track as one does on Lennon's attack on McCartney on his 1971 track 'How Do You Sleep', here we have the same dilemna. It is a thoroughly unpleasant lyric, but a great song all the same. 'No Time To Think' is compulsive stuff even if the rhymes are a little forced on occasion. 'Baby Please Stop Crying' is a more straightforward love song and is utterly brilliant in its delivery, not to mention it sublime melody and musicianship and heartfelt lyric. Yes, Dylan was quite capable of being tender and romantic like the rest of us. And what a great sax solo.
'Is Your Love In Vain' is another pretty vindictave lyric what wat a sublime song! Memorable in so many ways, not least in its inspired melody. 'Senor' is also a major song which has truly lasted the test of time. Not the most uplifting Dylan song ever, but that it is not really Dylan's forte....and the melody and delivery here, not to mention the dark lyric are all highlights here.
The remainder of Side 2 (vinyl record) is not quite of the same standard. Although this is a marginal decision as each of these tracks has considerable merit. 'We Better Talk This Over' is irresistable and what a great lyric if again somewhat bitter. 'Trie Love Tends To Forget' is possibly the weak link on the album but it is still pretty damn moving, at least in the lyric and superb guitar solo. The closing track is one of Dylan's most unpenetrable lyrics, full of masterful imagery and such emotion that the somewhat unremarkable melody is reduced to the ranks of irrelevance.
All in all this album is the triumphant third element of a great Dylan 1970s trilogy. 'Blood On The Tracks', 'Desire' and 'Street Legal'. I am truly hard pressed to name anyone who has produced three albums back to back of such awesome quality. And I think it is this that third leg of that trilogy which has not received the high accolades it truly deserves. Particularly in this crystal clear remastered form. It is a masterful effort.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Dylan album from the late 1970s, rather obscure., 2 Oct 2007
This review is from: Street-Legal (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. As it stands, there's as many people who think it's great and love the sound (I'm in that camp), as there are people who think it's a missed opportunity and find Dylan's Las Vegas style rather embarrassing. Just like DESIRE, STREET-LEGAL has a sound unlike any other studio album in Dylan's career, and I personally wouldn't have it anyway. The critically panned, generally forgotten or ignored LIVE AT BUDOKAN is he closest cousin in his canon tooSTREET-LEGAL, and was released around the same time.

Lyrically, the album foreshadows Dylan's conversion to Christianity. The lyrics are wild and searching, and though dense, it is clear Dylan is in a rather precarious position in his life, desiring peace and having none, and overall just searching for whatever meaning he can find. The last track is especially evident of Dylan's desire to be at peace with himself. Like most other musical artists worth studying, Dylan's music is an evolution, and it's quite enlightening to trace that evolution, for professionally and personally. The Christian Trilogy is a natural extension of the themes and questions Dylan is asking here, and feel very much like a continuation of this album.

The biggest problem with this album comes in the form of Dylan himself. When you've had a forty year career, as one other reviewer pointed out, lesser albums which would be studied had they been in another band's discography is pushed to the wayside to get to the real meat (with Dylan his 1960s output and his recent renaissance material). You could listen to all the officially released Dylan albums and not get finished in a day. With a body of work it tends to obscure the lesser gems, which is a shame because this is a particularly pleasing album.

Dylan's biggest pet peeve, or one of them anyway, is being pigeon-holed. Every album has its own atmosphere, and this is no exception. AMG says that "Coming off the twin peaks of BLOOD ON THE TRACKS and DESIRE," this album proved to be something of a disappointment. But I disagree. Personally, I prefer this over DESIRE. Although DESIRE may have hit bigger highs it also hit some really LOW lows, especially "Romance in Durango". It has the weirdest atmosphere of ANY Dylan album, and then this transform the world-music style of DESIRE into a very professional sounding big band release. While the album has been unfavorably compared to the worst elements in Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley's music, it is a very unique sound for Dylan, and not found on any of his other studio work (though breifly entertained on the double live album "Live at Budokan", which is, admittedly, an unmitigated disaster).

With this album, it starts out with one of his better latter songs, "Changing of the Guards". For this listener, it stands as the favorite Dylan song to sing along too, trying to reach the highs the backup vocals do. Although Dylan has often criticised for the female backup vocals, here it works. "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)" is another track often cited as the best on here, and it does have a very enticing power too it, creating a very interesting atmosphere, moody and distant, with his lyrics transforming his voice into a snake-like monster, creating a spell for you. "Senor" is notable for being one of the few songs from the STREET LEGAL and DESIRE era that Dylan would still perform in concert in recent years.

"New Pony", "True Love Tends to Forget", and "Is Your Love in Vain" tends to drag the record down just a bit, but they're still strong tracks in their own right. I think they are just average songs, not great songs, and don't match the high that the other songs achieve. But after you listen to them again, you soon realise these tracks fit into the atmosphere Dylan wanted to create on this record. Taken out of this context, they seem somewhat strange, but with this it fits perfectly into the mood, although I'm not a real big fan of them. The best line is "I had a pony, her name is Lucifer, how much longer?", and "Is Your Love in Vain", which Mark Prindle follower George Starastin (who has since become a good reviewer in his own right), says this is the best track on here, though I tend to disagree. For all you blues fans and Led Zeppelin fans, Dylan sings about the juice running down his leg on "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)", singing about the forbidden fruit.

For my money, the four key songs are "Changing of the Guard," "No Time to Think", "Senor", and "Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through the Dark Heat)?", and match anything else he's written in his post 1960s canon, and lyrically and thematically related to the Christian trilogy, especially the last song.

Overall, the album, like SLOW TRAIN COMING, has some great songs and then some just so-so songs. And while the so-so STREET-LEGAL songs are much better and work in the context of their prospective album than the average songs of SLC, STREET LEGAL started a trend of somewhat uneven albums from Dylan. But STREET LEGAL is still a great album, and very underrated. Any Dylan fan should have it in their collection. New people should probably start with some of his other records first, but this is a fine album in its own right.

After 1978, Dylan would convert to Christianity, and this was the last overtly secular recording he would do for six years. While it surprised a lot of fans, listening to STREET-LEGAL, the sign posts were there that he was searching, and given how much the Christian faith and Biblical morality informs so much of his work, it's not that surprising he turned to Christianity for answers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underated Dylan!, 4 Sep 2002
This album is perhaps one of Bob Dylan's more underated albums, up there with the likes of 'Infidels' & 'New Morning.'
With a new band (from the 'Bukodan' release) and a new groove, he fashioned some great sing-a-long songs. Examples of these can be found in 'Is Your Love In Vain' with it's stirring brass arrangment, and the heartache of 'Baby Stop Crying.' The stylish 'Senor' is a powerful, even atmospheric tale that chills the spine. The most uplifting tune is the opener 'Changing Of The Guards' which is extremely catchy, together with it's saxophone riff. All in all, a welcome addition to any Dylan collection.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album - what's the problem?, 10 Feb 2003
I was lucky enough to buy Street Legal before I heard it was supposed to be no good. I think it is tremendous and, continuing the theme of bucking the trend, I think "Senor" and "New Pony" are the dullest tracks on it. I love the fade in to "Changing of the Guards" which is one of Dylan's most memorable tunes of mystery. I've heard it a thousand times and still haven't a clue what it is about but I bet no-one else knows either. It just sounds so mystical and right. The fade in and fade out make it feel like you've been lucky enough to catch a snatch of some long mythical tale (like "Isis" on Desire). The horns and backing singers are great. Some people are just so picky! "No time to think" is another brilliant song with the kind of lyrics that have bits that relate perfectly to your own experience. Anyone who can deliver the lines "you look in the mirror/and there's eyes staring clear/ at the back of your head as you drink" gets my vote, especially as being able to rhyme "mirror" with "clear" is not easy. Dylan has a fantastic way with love songs of enabling the listener to feel that they've been in the same place as him. When I first heard "We better talk this over" I wondered how he knew what I had just been through. "Where are you tonight?" is the ultimate song about loving someone you can't have. This album is Dylan wondering where it's at, or where he's at. Anyone who ever felt the same way should enjoy it immensely. I'd put it in my top three Dylan albums and, funnily enough, so would my 18 year old son. The other two are Bringing it all Back Home and Blood on the Tracks.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Bob Dylan album, 27 Nov 2006
By 
Edward Hough (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Street-Legal (Audio CD)
When I first heard this album I have to admit I did not get it. I thought it went nowhere. However, given a few years and plays, it is now the one Dylan album I always play. The stand out tracks are the sequence: Baby Please Stop Crying, Is Your Love in Vain? and Senor (Tales of Yankee Power). Is Your Love IN Vain is one of my personal favourite Dylan songs, and goes to show that you can't always rely on a 'best of', and that there are major rewards to be had if you delve into the back catalogue. The album is good value- if no bonus tracks or extras- but it always appears to be discounted when Bob comes on tour. If you have not got it aleady, treat yourself today and it will reward you- but it may take time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC, 3 Mar 2008
This review is from: Street-Legal (Audio CD)
Dylan's two greatest albums are generally considered to 'Blonde on Blonde' and 'Blood on the tracks'. There are legitimate claims for 'Highway 61...' and others, but those two usually receive the votes in most fan/critics polls. This album has fallen from the critical radar somewhat, and undeservedly in my view. Any album that contains the magisterial 'Baby stop crying' and the stately 'Is your love is vain?' deserves to ranked amongst any artists' finest...even when that artist is Dylan. 'Is your love in vain' is simply one of the finest songs ever written, never mind one of Bob's best. From the classic opening couplet of 'Do you love me/Or are you just extending goodwill' to the closing 'Are you willing to risk it all/Or is your love in vain?' the song just oozes beauty and heartbreak in both word and melody. I bought the single in 1978 and wore it out - the same with 'Baby stop crying'. That's not to say that there are only two tracks worth listening to...'Changing of the guards', 'Senor', and 'No time to think' are also superb and there is not one duff track on the album. So, if you've heard that Dylan was not quite up to the mark by the time of 'Street Legal' - please try it. It was the soundtrack to my life when I was 16 and a half and it's still relevant today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounds like no other Dylan album before or since, 28 May 2011
By 
FRS (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Street-Legal (Audio CD)
This is an all too often overlooked Dylan album.

It has both strengths and weaknesses, and for some reason many people focus on the weaknesses,which are messy production,
over bearing(in places)horn section, and arrangements that are too busy and cluttered.

However the strengths are far more important - the song writing is almost uniformly fantastic( much much better quality
control in place here than subsequently alas)- the songs are driven by great powerful melodies(no meandering and twiddling here),
and driving vocals.

Dylan sings like he really means it, and throws more images into his lines than he had done for a long time,
and there are some great hooks.

Perhaps most amazingly a "Baby Stop Crying" became a big hit single in the UK charting as high as number 13 in 1978 !

It sounds like no other Dylan album before or since.

For any other artist it would be a career defining high water mark, for Dylan it is just very good.

Worth looking up, and spending some time with, it will pay big dividends.
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Street-Legal by Bob Dylan (Audio CD - 2004)
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