The Traveling Wilburys: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison & George Harrison
I have been asked a couple of times already who sings exactly what on the two volumes that The Traveling Wilburys were to issue during their stint together. Some (younger) people just aren’t accustomed to the singers’ voices on their own, and that is aggravated by the fact Petty sounds just like Dylan more than sporadically (“End Of The Line”, “7 Deadly Sins”). That is the reason why I decided to put this list together.
Handle With Care – Harrison
Dirty World – Dylan
Rattled – Lynne
Last Night – Petty
Not Alone Anymore – Orbison
Congratulations – Dylan
Heading for the Light – Harrison
Margarita – Dylan
Tweeter and the Monkey Man- Dylan
End of the Line- Petty (with Harrison, Lynne and Orbison singing a verse or two each) Continue reading →
"The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3" Was To Be The Final Release By The '80s Supergroup
The second (and final) record by the Traveling Wilburys surfaced in 1990, and it was to be titled “Vol. 3”. This is widely thought to be a joke suggested by George Harrison (who was the unofficial leader of the band) to send fans scrambling for an album that never was. We know he did suggest the title, but I believe that it was a two-fingered salute to bootleggers rather than a joke – the amount of “unofficial” Wilburys records that came out after the first volume was unbelievable. And many also consider Tom Petty’s first solo disc (“Full Moon Fever”) to be the “lost” Wilburys album – it was produced by Lynne, and every Wilbury (except for Dylan) collaborated, albeit marginally in most cases.
The fact remains that after a universally-praised record that rejuvenated everybody, this new volume was released. The main difference telling one record from the other? The first time around, the guys were having fun. Now, they were getting down to business. The joviality was somehow missing the second time around. The professionalism remained, and so did the camaraderie. But not the lovable goofiness.
The passing of Roy Orbison surely had a big impact on the band, and the fact that both Dylan and Harrison penned songs that were truer to their ‘80s selves rather than genuine Wilbury music was the tipping point. Songs like “Where Were You Last Night” (Dylan) and “You Took My Breath Away” (Harrison) pointed to each artist’s worst tendencies during the previous decade. And the one joke of the disc was incredibly forced – “Wilbury Twist” had rampant instrumentation but they were trying too hard to revive something that the first time around flowed so effortlessly.
Speaking of rampant volume, the album’s first single (and its first track) was the heavy “She’s My Baby”, a song that always makes me think of Pete Townshend’s “My Baby Gives It Away”, only that the characters in the Wilbury’s song are far, far meaner and darker. The track (which did very well in the charts) also featured Gary Moore on guitar – he definitively had a field day. Continue reading →
The Wilburys were to release two albums of original compositions during their brief time together. While both are clearly more than a respectable listen, the first one is unanimously hailed as the Traveling Wilburys album.
Topping and tailing the record are the two tunes in which every member sings something at a point or other of the song. These are the Harrison-penned “Handle With Care” and the country-happy “End Of The Line”. The former seems like a combination made in heaven, as Harrison basically sings the lead during the verses, and then Roy Orbison sings a bridge that leads into a sing-along chorus by the rest of the band. Orbison’s contribution (a quavering plea) is a moment which moves me personally, and I bet many of those who listen to the song feel the same way. On the other hand, “End Of The Line” is a very uplifting way to close the record, and its message of optimism is all the more compelling because it feels incredible genuine – even Dylan sings like he truly means it. And those might as well have been his darkest years, keep that in mind.
Speaking of Dylan, he contributes a narrative which resembles “Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts” in terms of content and “Hurricane” in terms of structure. It is named “Tweeter And The Monkey Man”, and some fans go as far as to call it one of his best songs from the period. The song is the penultimate track on the album, and it is the one and only composition that goes over the 5.00 mark. The rest all clock at 3.00 on average. Continue reading →
The Traveling Wilburys have gone down in history as one of the most enjoyable and – above all – genuine supergroups ever. The key to their appeal might lie in the fact that the five band members were excellent friends who knew how to collaborate and complement each other’s musical stance, stopping exactly at the line that separated one from the other. They worked with each other without intruding an inch, and without giving an inch. Such chemistry is rare, and the fact that five different individuals could have it at the same time goes some way into explaining the Wilburys’ effectiveness.
Everybody knows who they are, but in case you are just discovering them: George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison.
They came together when Harrison needed to record a B-side, and the resulting song (“Handle With Care”) was something that even the biggest undiscerning person in the industry would have regarded as far, far more than a B-side. Two full-length collaborations were to ensue, titled “Volume I” and “Volume III”. Continue reading →