CD Review: The Traveling Wilburys

The Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys Collection
Wilbury Record Co./Rhino
By David Chiu

What made the Traveling Wilburys—George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty— so special was how their music sounded so informal and homespun. It was not so much a “supergroup” (which they really were), but more like best friends gathering for a good-natured jam. After years of going out of print, the two TW albums have just been reissued along with a DVD containing a documentary and several music videos. The brilliant 1988 debut album was a showcase of the members’ love for early rock and roll: rockabilly (“Rattled”), country (the masterful “End of the Line”), and Latin-tinged tunes (the hilarious “Last Night,” “Margarita”). Critics have rightly pointed out that Dylan sounded much better on this album (“Dirty World” and “Tweeter and the Monkey Man”) than his previous output during the ‘80s. For the great Orbison, it was a sign of a comeback as indicated on his brilliant showcase “Not Alone Anymore.” Sadly he passed away shortly after Vol. 1’s release, and his absence affects the group dynamic on the less-heralded sequel. Still, Vol. 3 shouldn’t be overlooked as it comtains many strong songs on there, particulary the barnstorming “She’s My Baby,” the environmental commentary of Inside Out, the lovely ballad “You Took My Breath Away” and the rocker “Wilbury Twist.” You can tell from the albums and the accompanying documentary that there was a lot of fun and love involved in the making of this music.


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