Bob Dylan,
Under the Red Sky
(Sony, 1990)

Why does the world insist that Bob Dylan's every album be a narrative epic suitable for inclusion in the next Norton Anthology of Literature? Why isn't Dylan allowed to have some fun when he wants? He is, in my book, and he does, on Under the Red Sky.

We don't persecute our famous blues artists for using simple rhymes and one- or two-chord melodies; the same should apply to Dylan who, all his life, has had to contend with people who only know him as a "poet" or as author of "Blowin' in the Wind." Fact is, he really loves rock 'n' roll, he really would love to be known for his blues vocals and sound, not just a folk record from 1963.

Under the Red Sky demonstrates his love and mastery of simple, bluesy rock 'n' roll. The album is loads of fun from start to finish. With a lineup of legendary producer Don Was, along with the likes of George Harrison, Slash, David Crosby and the Vaughn brothers, this album offers the most consistent collection of good music since Blonde on Blonde. No, it is not the literary masterpiece of his '60s efforts, but it certainly matches the musical intensity of those long-gone days.

Besides, some of the lyrics are very fun, such as the line from "Unbelievable" -- "It's inconceivable that someone could get this rich this quick." Well, Bob, you oughtta know!

- Rambles
written by Gianmarc Manzione
published 26 April 2003

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