Friday, June 10, 2016

Bonus Post! The Traveling Wilbury's Vol. I

Released October 18, 1988
The Traveling Wilbury's featured Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan (Jim Keltner played percussion).  In the spring of 1988 the group began jamming together at Bob Dylan's garage and decided to record a full album of tunes. With each member representing different eras in rock and roll, the project seemed too good to be true, even misguided. Against all odds the LP won popular and critical acclaim, including some of Dylan's finest work in years.  Their music combined Rockabilly, Dylan's idiosyncratic lyrics, Beatles Power Pop, Electric Light Orchestra's melodic production style, and Tom Petty's catchy hooks. 

The title of the first track "Handle With Care" seemed appropriate, as if telling all the naysayers to chill out for a second. Bob's comically racy lyrics on "Dirty World" were apparently a shout out to Prince. "Rattled" threw some country rock into the mix.  "Last Night" sounds identical to a mid 70s Harrison record with Petty taking over on lead vocals. "Not Alone Any More" is a hybrid of Doo-Wop and ELO.

Dylan sang lead on "Congratulations", one for all the sad bastards out there. "Heading for the Light" really sounded like a Beatles song with Harrison's signature guitar style. "Margarita" combined Beach Boys harmonies with Brian Wilson's production style on Pet Sounds.

Dylan wrote an homage/pastiche to Bruce Springsteen on "Tweeter and the Monkeyman", an odd tragicomic story set in New Jersey. And "End of the Line" promises everything will be all right.

I imagine them all gathering in Bob's garage one day and deciding to make a record like they did back in the day.  Everything about 1980s production got tossed out the window and the final results were close to magical.

Sadly, Roy Orbison passed away after finishing the album.  In their music video for "End of the Line" the surviving members paid Roy a special tribute.

For anyone disillusioned with the music scene of the Eighties, the Wilbury's may have provided a brief respite. A fun record full of freewheelin' lyrics and faultless musicianship.


  1. I owned a record shop at the time and I remember the Warners rep coming in and telling me about a forthcoming 'supergroup' album featuring Harrison, Orbison, Petty and Dylan. I laughed at him thinking it was a wind-up, I'd heard nothing at all about it. Pre-internet, news travelled very slowly indeed.
    A fine album that's still a lot of fun to hear.