Bob Dylan,
Street Legal
(Sony, 1978)

Recorded at the tail end of his second creative wind (the mid '70s), Street Legal is one of those great albums obscured under the ruble of a 40-year career. The epic "Changing of the Guards" launches Dylan into a new musical direction with background singers and sprightly horns, not to mention that it is truly one of Dylan's greatest songs. As if to counterbalance his new form with a reminder of his mid '60s rock albums, "New Pony" offers a shamelessly raw rock 'n' roll sound that hadn't appeared on any Dylan record in the '70s and requires that listeners play it as loud as possible.

However, three consecutive dull tracks ensue, and the album's momentum is slowed considerably. "Baby Stop Crying," includes a very good vocal performance by Dylan and a good chorus, but it takes the new sound of "Changing of the Guards" to an extreme, and the result is a less accessible sound, particularly for Dylan. "Is Your Love in Vain" and "No Time to Think" follow the bland model of "Stop Crying."

Fortunately, the album makes a triumphant comeback with yet another of Dylan's most legendary songs, "Senor." With its "Highway 61 Revisited" style of guitar licks, haunting atmosphere and Dylan's brooding voice, "Senor" is as dark as anything on Time out of Mind. The remastering job really shines on this track, as well. The drums beg for attention and the entire band sounds very crisp.

The brilliant performances do not end there, as the rollicking "We Better Talk This Over" again offers mid '60s-style guitar rhythms and is one of those rare Dylan performances that is bound to get your body moving.

Street Legal joins classic albums like Oh Mercy or Shot of Love as the album to get if you're sick and tired of the over-played hits of Dylan's career. Some of the songs here are so brilliant that Dylan fans who ignore the album are doing themselves an egregious injustice. There is no way that this album could entirely disappoint any Dylan fan.

- Rambles
written by Gianmarc Manzione
published 10 May 2003

Buy it from