Jan 6: Bob Dylan – First recording session for “Under The Red Sky” in 1990

bob dylan under the red sky

I made this record, Under the Red Sky, with Don Was, but at the same time I was also doing the Wilburys record. I don’t know how it happened that I got into both albums at the same time.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Lethem, Aug 2006)

It’s a magnificent album, really, and I love every performance on it.
~Paul Williams (from Bob Dylan: Mind Out of Time – Performing Artist 1986-1990 and Beyond)

Oceanway Studios
Los Angeles, California
6 January 1990
Produced by Don Was, David Was and Jack Frost


  • Bob Dylan (piano)
  • Jimmie Vaughan (guitar)
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan (guitar)
  • David Lindley (slide guitar)
  • Jamie Muhoberac (organ)
  • Don Was (bass)
  • Kenny Aronoff (drums)
    + more..

All songs from spotify

  1. Handy Dandy
  2. Handy Dandy
    First released on Under The Red Sky, September 11, 1990
  3. 10,000 Men
    First released on Under The Red Sky, September 11, 1990
  4. God Knows
    First released on Under The Red Sky, September 11, 1990
  5. Cat’s In The Well
    First released on Under The Red Sky, September 11, 1990

under the red sky - back

The first Dylan album after Oh Mercy shows Dylan characteristically retreating from that album’s mainstream production values and safe terrain, and refusing to offer a follow-up. Nevertheless his penchant for recently modish producers has him turn this time to DAVID & DON WAS of Was Not Was, who offer a rougher and less unified sound. It’s a pity Dylan pads out the album with some sub-standard rockism (‘Wiggle Wiggle’ and ‘Unbelievable’) and the ill-fitting, foggy pop of ‘Born in Time’, because the core of the album is an adventure into the poetic possibilities of nursery rhyme that is alert, fresh and imaginative, and an achievement that has gone largely unrecognised.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

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11 thoughts on “Jan 6: Bob Dylan – First recording session for “Under The Red Sky” in 1990”

  1. You guys may say I’m crazy, but I do confess: just love ‘2×2’

    By the way, love the picture on the cover too… 🙂

  2. Don Was let these sessions get out of hand with way too many guest artists wanting to get on record with Dylan. The comment above by Michael Gray on “Unbelievable” and “Born In Time” are vapid and way off track; these are two of Dylan’s best nineties songs. “Cats In The Well” picks up on Dylan’s admiration for Slim Harpo that was exhibited on “Everything Is Broken.” The highlight of the album has got to be George Harrison’s sublime slide guitar work on the title track.

  3. In the late 90s tours, when the drums hit on “God Knows”, the entire place went ballistic….

  4. The outtake of Handy Dandy is killer.

    You can tell why Bob took another 6-7 years to do another original album. The general idea of the album is very interesting, but it sounds fairly sloppy, distracted, with some inferior takes of Oh Mercy songs.

    A sharper focus, no guest musicians, and his own production would have been much better – Bob eventually figured it out!

    1. Actually, I believe it was for his newest daughter born a few yrs, earlier.
      (“old and in the way”)

  5. Hey, that makes it 3. I’ve always liked it too. Great album cover photo. God knows you ain’t pretty, gotta love that!

  6. I agree with Matt. One of my favorite Dylan records. As a second generation Dylan fan (born 1972), I always felt like this was our Self Portrait. Worth it for the line “God knows you ain’t pretty/God knows it’s true.”

  7. Hugely underrated album. Cats in The Well, unbelievable, & God Knows some if Dylans best songs. People get on the bandwagon & criticize this one. People baffle me.

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