Bob Dylan - Street Legal
Magnolia Record Club

Bob Dylan - Street Legal

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The critic Greil Marcus, in his Rolling Stonereview of Street Legal, characterized this complicated and frequently brilliant album as "Dylan faking it." In a sense Marcus, who has both provided some of the most crucial and also some of the most myopic scholarship on Dylan's catalog, was correct, but not in the way he imagined. This is deliberately Dylan's showbiz record. Having been a front-and-center observer of Neil Diamond's runaway success, and sharing the same management, Dylan delivers on Street Legal his own particularly demented notion of what a big Vegas run might sound like. Luckily, he couldn't find schmaltz with a Geiger counter and what results is one of the strangest hybrids ever committed to record: densely layered songs ladled with sundry horns and wailing backing singers. All of these crowd the legendarily poor and slapdash mix (which was remastered to great effect in 1999) and ultimately make for a challenging and claustrophobic listening experience, something like Elvis Costello's similarly crazed Punch The Clock. Still, Street Legal contains no shortage of brilliant material, and its enigma and quality only gain currency over time. Amongst its other charms, the opening track, music-business allegory "Changing Of The Guards," brimming with mysterious allusions, unforgettable turns of phrase, and regular saxophone breaks, is clearly the greatest proto-Dan Bejar song ever written.

-Timothy & Elizabeth Bracy, Stereogum


1. Changing of the Guards 

2. New Pony 

3. No Time to Think 

4. Baby, Stop Crying 

5. Is Your Love in Vain? 

6. Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) 

7. True Love Tends to Forget 

8. We Better Talk This Over 

9. Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat) 

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