Bob Dylan has long made a career out of confounding people's expectations. Aside from any desire of critics or even fans, this is one artist who very clearly does what he wants, when he wants. At times (Self-Portrait ring a bell?) his career moves have seemed somewhat perverse - one might even say self-destructive. Under The Red Sky, on the surface, seems to be another one of these albums. Coming hot on the heels of his critical and commercial comeback, Oh Mercy, Dylan released this album of sheer lightweight tunes. To be sure, if you are expecting an album with material along the lines of the sheer density of Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, or Street Legal, you will invariably be disappointed in this album. However, if you approach this recording with an open mind and simply take it for what it is, then you will find some things to enjoy on it. As many people have pointed out, the album's lyrics, at least in part, are highly influenced by children's nursery rhymes. Dylan, for all we know about him, keeps pulling out surprises, and his apparent love for and fascination with this form of rhyme probably shocked many people. And, indeed, some of the songs (10,000 Men, 2X2) are quite banal, and perhaps one might say even flat-out embarrassing. Others, however, are quite good and enjoyable. There are some really good songs here, even some with substance (Born In Time is a masterpiece of a ballad; TV Talkin' Song a semi-brilliant satire on the [television].) Others are just pure, good fun to listen to (Wiggle Wiggle and Handy Dandy, a song which I think is autobiographical - as is the title track, as Dylan himself has said.) This seems to be an album where Bob just wanted to cut loose from the pretensions and have fun. Every artist should be allowed to do this once in a while. The songs are hardly less substantial than many of those on The Basement Tapes (although, indeed, they do not often share that album's redeeming virtue of humor), and many of those are worshipped by fans. Furthermore, although it is not often ackwnoledged, the rhyme schemes on Oh Mercy were very simplistic as well - certainly the songs were not that complex, although, indeed, more meaningful than most of those on here. One might even say, with the 20/20 view of hindsight, that this was a logical move for Dylan at the time. Under The Red Sky features a plenthora of guest stars (Slash, Elton John, Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan, David Crosby, among others) - something that Dylan had hardly ever done before - which adds to the festive, fun spirit of the album. This certainly should not be one of the first - or even the first 20 - Dylan albums that you should buy; but, if you are a fan, you will want to pick this up, eventually, as it is quite an enjoyable little album, and quite a lot better than it is often given credit for.