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Reaching no.16 in the UK charts in November 1988, The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) was the first album from a band of rock/pop greats who conjoined with the aim of simply making some good music together.
Comprised of Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and George Harrison, The Traveling Wilburys wrote this enjoyable collection of rock songs, each member's contribution being very much in his own classic style.
The content of the songs is of high quality throughout, being a combination of slower offerings mixed in with a few more up-tempo, 'feel good' tracks. I can remember at the time and amidst the circle of people I was then involved with, the album pretty much achieved a love it or hate it status, with its appeal being strongest for those who perhaps had a generally more serious interest in music and were carried along by the overall lightness - perhaps even slightly tongue-in-cheek here and there - mood.
Each member of the band individually wrote and solo (vocals) performed at least one song on the album, with all members joining in with one another for the final track, End Of The Line. When I first heard The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1), I played a little game with myself in that I attempted (successfully) to guess who was who as I listened to each track.
The general flavour of the album is very much in rock singer/songwriter mode, with most of the tracks being fairly light-hearted. The grittiest song is probably Congratulations, which is an acidic proclamation of lost love.
Bob Dylan is someone whose output during his career is eclectic, but on this album one of his mains offerings (Tweeter And The Monkey Man) is written and performed very much in his 'story song' style, containing lyrics which create a verbal image of loose, wandering characters.
Although in musical style it may not be immediately obvious, there is quite a strong romantic element running through most of this album's content. It isn't moons in June stuff, nor is it steamy and sensual, being down to earth hence hooking into a more day to day sense of life and love, embracing both its delights and its problems.
All of the band members compliment one another and work brilliantly together, producing some great harmonies with the tracks following on logically and seamlessly, each one linking perfectly to the next. I personally, whether this really was the case or not, get a strong feeling of camaraderie through the music, feeling that the members of the band were inspiring and feeding one another, anticipating each other's musical moves and definitely being from the same classic rock 'bag', despite possibly not having worked together much - if at all - beforehand.
My own favourite track on The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) is probably the best-known, End Of The Line, where all the band members join together to perform this rolling, feel-good song which contains some easy-going but wise lyrics on how to make life as simple and enjoyable as possible.
The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) is an album which I drag out every so often and play when I want to be reminded of a good part of my life, and to have my ears bathed with something reminiscent of my era yet not too heavy in content.
All in all, this is a very easy to listen to album which has gone down as an all-time classic, yet I'm surprised it didn't reach a higher position in the UK charts, bearing in mind that a sizeable number of people claim it to be their all-time favourite album. There have been a couple of sequels, which for me don't anywhere near hit my enjoyment spot as much as this one does. As far as any subsequent major work from them is concerned, for me The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) and its follow-ups, I kind of see as George Harrison's and Roy Orbison's swan songs....the world lost the great Roy Orbison just a few months after the release of this album, and although George Harrison's death occurred 13 years later, for me this was his final major musical undertaking.
I personally feel that The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) is an essential part of anybody's musical collection. It isn't 'dancey' or particularly high-powered in any way, simply being a quality collection of well-written, well-performed songs by a few of the old-time masters of the rock and pop world. It is extremely easy to listen to, heartwarming, a little amusing in parts.....and a little wry in other parts. It is one of my all-time favourite albums, and never fails to put me in a good mood each time I hear it.
At the time of writing, The Traveling Wilburys (Volume 1) can be purchased on CD from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.80 to £19.99
Used: only 2 copies currently available, @ £6.12 and £11.41
Some CDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~