Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Anyone own Under The Red Sky? Sandwiched between 1989's Oh Mercy and 1997's Time Out of Mind (and two covers albums), it doesn't even get mentioned with the smirky derision of Down in the Groove or Dylan & The Dead. But give it a chance. Thanks to a Don Was production that's pure gutbucket raunch, UTRS points towards "Love and Theft." Clearly Dylan wanted to record an album's worth of inspired throwaways, of the kind he donated to the Traveling Wilburys projects, and while you might think an album sporting the most superstarry roster of his career (Slash! Stevie Ray Vaughan! George Harrison!) is incapable of spontaneity, Kenny Aronoff is there to keep things greasy. The reliance on nursery rhyme structures ("2 x 2," "Wiggle Wiggle," the title track) coaxes a gentle, lovey-dovey crinkle from Dylan's vocals that, at the time, was unheard of -- the ideal reaction to the determined solemnity of Oh Mercy. "T.V. Talkin' Song" hits its target with an accuracy that earlier rants like "Neighborhood Bully" only approximated. And when he invokes the numinous, the gelid "Born in Time"'s got the voodoo, even though, like "Series of Dreams," its title is nonsense and its lyrics non sequiturs. You can get this album cheap.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

read somewhere that this album was initially an album of children's songs. that idea was shelved for some reason or other and they ended up including a couple of ealier demoed songs.

Hans said...

I don't even see it at stores. I'll admit, I've listened to a hell of a lot of Dylan, but "Under the Red Sky" and "Empire Burlesque" are two I still haven't felt that drawn to. Maybe you should lend me your copy! :-p