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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:46 GMT 
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Street-Legal has always struck me as something of an unquantifiable entity. It doesn't seem to fit in with the regular categories or with the regular qualities of Dylan albums, it's so varied and so bipolar that I've always found it impossible to say whether it's great or terrible. Yet listening to it tonight I think I have begun to quantify it. Street-Legal is both Dylan's greatest and worst album. The influence of Springsteen I think is key yet Dylan manages to surpass this influence and sound like a poor imitation in almost equal measure. It is two albums, though connected by theme, quite set apart through quality and musical coherence, thus:

1. Changing of the Guards – Incredible, as good as anything Dylan has done, filled with the tarot cards and mysticism of Desire but with the addition of the saxophones and urgency of Springsteen. Grade A Dylan

2. New Pony – Another strong song, Dylan rocking as hard as the Stones with the blues lyrics carrying real power, especially with hindsight to Dylan's born again conversion

3. No Time to Think – Perhaps controversially, I find this song contrived, dull and among Dylan's poorest work. The ryhmes are at times contrived, the images either too bizarre or self parodying set behind the ridiculous waltz. The first stinker of the album.

4. Baby, Stop Crying – Baby Stop Crying almost follows in the footsteps of the first 2 songs yet crucially falls the same way as No Time To Think. It's a song I can almost listen to without being bored to tears yet I always am, which isn't really quite enough.

5. Is Your Love in Vain? – This song is just awful. Dylan trying to be Dylan trying to be relevant and meaningful but being none of these. The band sound like brown wall paper or some kind of dull pub carpet.

6. Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) – Yet from the cigarette ash covered swollen ruins of Is Your Love in Vain Dylan redeems himself with a song worthy of a place on any of his records. Like Changing of the Guards, Senor reads like it could have been off Desire yet it isn't, it's very street-legaly... Grade A classic.

7. True Love Tends to Forget – Just when Bob was beginning to save Street Legal he fucks it up again. The less said about this the better, really piss poor. Another song which sounds like worn out Bob wallowing in the fag and lager covered rug of Is your Love in Vain. It sounds like a middle aged man having a divorce, but in the exact opposite way that Idiot wind does. Where idiot wind is glorious and triumphant - i.e everywhere - 'True Love' is just really mediocre. Anyhow, I've said too much.

8. We Better Talk This Over – I once heard a nice live version fromm 2000, but the album cut has much the same effect as Baby, Please STop Crying. It tempts you with hope then covers you in the aforementioned shit stained persian rug of a boring amateurish Dylan impersonator going through a mid life crisis.

9. Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat) – Just when you thought it was all over Dylan pulls it back. For the first time in the album Dyan pulls out the glorious triumphantism of Idiot Wind. We can hear and feel the pain of the divorce, the tears on the letter she wrote, the great men belittled by doubt. A truly incredible song.


This is why Street-Legal is such a conundrum. It's as equally terrific as it is awful. A real fight to listen with. Then again, I just listened to No Time To Think and enjoyed it....


Any thoughts on this aged old subject?


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:51 GMT 
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Interesting.

Some of the songs I would almost be ashamed to admit liking if it wasn't Dylan. Baby, Stop Crying and True Love Tends to Forget spring to mind. They are both a bit too sugary to be anything other than guilty pleasures. The album does contain some stone cold classics though.


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:51 GMT 
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Wow gibson, what a great inspiration to go back to this album! :D
I'm gonna find my CD before I start getting deeper into any thoughts I might want to add on this subject. Brb.....


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:54 GMT 
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I'm listening to it too! Matt should do the same!

I don't think sugary is strong enough a word for songs like true love tends to forget... it's just far too easy for Bob... the nadir of his career. Has he written worse songs?


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:56 GMT 
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I'm going to put it on now.

gibsona07 wrote:
Has he written worse songs?


Yes. Yes he has.


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:58 GMT 
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well if you think about it, Down in the Groove was mostly covers, EB had great lyrics but was just ruined by the production, KOL contained Brownsville Girl and the rest of the writing wasnt too bad - the childrens choirs and covers mainly let it down, and the Gospel albums at least had passion.

That's the trouble with Street Legal... it contains such high points and such low points in direct contrast


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:59 GMT 
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gibsona07 wrote:
It's as equally terrific as it is awful.


I agree.

It always sounds better the more I drink.

Senor and Where Are You Tonight? (and We Better Talk This Over, I guess) are terrific sober, though.


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:59 GMT 
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It's playing now. I was actually given the CD by a friend who I first met at my very first Dylan concert.

Well, it's very well known by anyone who cares to read my posts that I'm not *that* much into classic Bob, though I'm not sure Street-Legal is generally considered a classic. Has anyone here read the book on this album.... I forget the title.


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PostPosted: Sun March 4th, 2012, 23:59 GMT 
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Interesting fact, the adjective mediocre was coined by a disgruntled music critic contractually obliged to listen repeatedly to and review Street Legal.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:00 GMT 
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John B. Stetson wrote:
gibsona07 wrote:
It's as equally terrific as it is awful.


I agree.

It always sounds better the more I drink.

Senor and Where Are You Tonight? (and We Better Talk This Over, I guess) are terrific sober, though.


Interesting hypothesis... I feel another beer is in order.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:01 GMT 
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gibsona07 wrote:
well if you think about it, Down in the Groove was mostly covers, EB had great lyrics but was just ruined by the production, KOL contained Brownsville Girl and the rest of the writing wasnt too bad - the childrens choirs and covers mainly let it down, and the Gospel albums at least had passion.

That's the trouble with Street Legal... it contains such high points and such low points in direct contrast


Yeah, it goes from spellbinding genius (Changing of the Guards) to god awful trite (Is your Love in Vain?)


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:01 GMT 
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gibsona07 wrote:
Has he written worse songs?


I guess it depends on your definition of worse. Does the fact that Bob only ever plays 'Senor' in concert anymore inply the songs don't hold up for him anymore, or is it just one more album he moved past?


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:03 GMT 
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blind_boy_grunt wrote:
Interesting fact, the adjective mediocre was coined by a disgruntled music critic contractually obliged to listen repeatedly to and review Street Legal.


Not a fan then?


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:03 GMT 
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Mr_matt wrote:
awful trite (Is your Love in Vain?)


That one surely contains one of Bob's least women friendly lyrics. Can't he dang well grow his own flowers? Though 'Baby Stop Crying' is certainly almost as bad.... why is *she* supposed to stop crying because it makes *him* feel bad? :?


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:05 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
It's playing now. I was actually given the CD by a friend who I first met at my very first Dylan concert.

Well, it's very well known by anyone who cares to read my posts that I'm not *that* much into classic Bob, though I'm not sure Street-Legal is generally considered a classic. Has anyone here read the book on this album.... I forget the title.


I didn't know there was a book on this album, must be a short read!


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:05 GMT 
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gibsona07 wrote:

Interesting hypothesis... I feel another beer is in order.


It will help.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:06 GMT 
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On the other hand, it clearly foreshadows his conversion, so nobody can reasonably claim there is no depth to be found in this album if one was looking or listening to it.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:06 GMT 
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Mr_matt wrote:
blind_boy_grunt wrote:
Interesting fact, the adjective mediocre was coined by a disgruntled music critic contractually obliged to listen repeatedly to and review Street Legal.


Not a fan then?


I can derive some pleasure from the album but ultimately I can't escape the impression that this is Dylan trying to do Dylan just before he loses the plot completely and plunges head-first into the out and out cringe fest of his religious years.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:07 GMT 
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I like New Pony and We Better Talk This Over. I'd like No Time to Think more, but his singing is too whiny. Lyric's nice, though.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:08 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
On the other hand, it clearly foreshadows his conversion, so nobody can reasonably claim there is no depth to be found in this album if one was looking or listening to it.


Unless one views his conversion as the action of an emotionally unstable drug addict going through a bitch of a mid-life crisis.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:08 GMT 
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Mr_matt wrote:
I didn't know there was a book on this album, must be a short read!


I was willing to read it.... I asked the good folks at ISIS if they had it available at one point. Alas, it's long out of print and hard to find. I'll look up the title for you in a minute.... I need to bring that bottle over here as well now that y'all suggest it's the thing to do.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:09 GMT 
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blind_boy_grunt wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:
On the other hand, it clearly foreshadows his conversion, so nobody can reasonably claim there is no depth to be found in this album if one was looking or listening to it.


Unless one views his conversion as the action of an emotionally unstable drug addict going through a bitch of a mid-life crisis.


Indeed, converting would've been out of the question had his life been stable.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:11 GMT 
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Or his mental state for that matter.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:11 GMT 
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Johanna Parker wrote:
gibsona07 wrote:
Has he written worse songs?


I guess it depends on your definition of worse. Does the fact that Bob only ever plays 'Senor' in concert anymore inply the songs don't hold up for him anymore, or is it just one more album he moved past?


Senor's an interesting one... I feel it may be the only song in his repetoire that has got better with each year of performance. It just really fits his voice right now. I would have loved to hear it in the RTR though.


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PostPosted: Mon March 5th, 2012, 00:12 GMT 
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blind_boy_grunt wrote:
Johanna Parker wrote:
On the other hand, it clearly foreshadows his conversion, so nobody can reasonably claim there is no depth to be found in this album if one was looking or listening to it.


Unless one views his conversion as the action of an emotionally unstable drug addict going through a bitch of a mid-life crisis.


One certainly doesn't exclude the other. Quite the opposite must be true - there was more than one factor eventually leading to the conversion. He progressed through one year of divorce and another one on the road before he got tapped on the shoulder. As an album created in the middle of all this, there is no way it would not mirror his search for salvation.


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