“ Artist: Travelling Wilburys / Release Date: 1988 / Genre: Indie Rock & Punk „
The Travelling Wilburys, for those of you who don't know, are Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty accompanied by drummer Jim Keltner.
The result? An explosive and energetic album with each of the band contributing their own musical influences. The original line up was brought to a close with the tragic death of Roy Orbison at the end of 1988, the year this album was recorded.
This heartfelt album makes you feel as though you are on the road, with its rhythms and edge of excitement.
Personal track by track analysis:
1. Handle With Care. This upbeat track full of energy and with Dylan's classic storytelling style of song, this song sings of the vulnerability of someone in love. Brilliant opening track - download!
2. Dirty World. Opening with Dylan's gravelly vocals, complete with gorgeous harmonies from the band, this song retains the optimism of the first track and continues with a fast paced, well put together track. Very listenable.
3. Rattled. The pace of the track seems to reflect someone venting his frustrations.
4. Last Night. One of my favourites on the album, this song is an off beat love song - the story
of meeting a girl, plain and simple. Uplifting rhythms combine with repetition and a story to make this track brilliant.
5. Not Alone Any More. This slightly more low key track continues with the romantic theme and is complete with stunning vocals and interesting musical effects.
6. Congratulations. Possibly the most melancholy of the album, this song tells of heartbreak, perhaps a reference to the romance of earlier in the album, if we were to see the album as a story! Use of repetition makes the messages resonate.
7. Heading For The Light. This track is exciting, and brings a fresh melody dotted with jazz influences which makes you wanna dance!
8. Margarita. This song builds a little before they introduce some harmonies nearly a minute in. Plays with musical effects more than anything!
9. Tweeter and the Monkey Man. This bizarre sounding track is a great track. The story of a drug dealer, this song has an ominous edge to it which makes it a brilliant song. Download it!
10. End of the Line. This song is lovely! Such a jolly song, complete with pretty harmonies and alternating vocals from the artists. This is guaranteed to lift you up at any time of the day. No deep meanings, just lots of love!
11. Maxine. A song about a lady named Maxine, so if you have a Maxine in your life, play this to her ;)
12. Like A Ship. Album finishes in as strong a note as it began, with this slower closing tune with nautical references.
Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album as I reviewed it, give it a listen for some unexpected and uplifiting music.
Quite often we talk about Supergroups, well the Travelling Wilbury's were actually a Supergroup, incorporating a Beatle, two great but completely different legendary male solo artists and a couple of incredibly talented but lesser known musicians.
Who are they:
The band consisted of:
Nelson Wilbury - George Harrison
Otis Wilbury - Jeff Lynne
Charlie T Senior - Tom Petty
Lefty Wilbury - Roy Orbison
Lucky Wilbury - Bob Dylan
The band was created through Harrison needing to record a single and contacting Lynne, who was producing Petty at the time, they in turn asked Dylan to borrow his studio and Orbison offered to help as he was working with Lynne at the time, from this a collaboration of five great musicians jamming produced one of the most relaxed brilliant albums of all time.
Whats it about
The album draws on the productions skills of Lynne, the writing genius of Harrison and Dylan, the varied and inspiring vocals of each performer and the fact they can all sing and play instruments, this was the first album they made together and to my mind is easily their best, it is just a group of friends having fun and creating some wonderfully melodic music into the bargain.
Handle with Care - This has an ELO type riff (possibly coming from Lynne), Harrison starts the album singing over some great guitars, once Orbison sings the next verse you are hooked and the hairs on your arms stand up, this is a fantastic song which wasn't originally given the credit it now has, the chorus with Petty and Dylan singing in their croaking voices with Orbisons melody behind is marvellous, and then Harrison takes over again, the musicianship is wonderful but hearing four amazing voices meld together and work together so well is marvellous, the production is exceptional and does justice to these amazingly gifted men, this is a great song that all of these guys should be proud of.
Dirty World - Nice snare drum opening, I like Dylan taking the lead on this one, his rasping voice is perfect with the melodic backing, he sings about his gang and this is a love song and introduction all in one. Dylan sounds fantastic, he sounds like he's having a great time being rude and raucous. The drums and guitars are melodic and this has a bluesy country feel but with a real sense of pop culture too.
Rattled - This has a fast rockabilly beat and Lynne starts the singing on this song, the drums rattle away, this has a fifties feel to it, its simple, the lyrics are simple but its perfectly formed and the harmonies are superb. This is obviously the kind of music the gang all enjoy and it takes you back to an older age, it's a wicked song and very authentic of fifties shake rattle and roll music.
Last Night - This song makes me laugh its about the wooing of a lady only to find she's not all she seems, much in the style of Lola, its done humorously and all the guys get involved, it is well produced and while not one of the best songs on the album its really good fun.
Not Alone Anymore - This starts with a lovely guitar solo and the we have the smooth vocal of Roy Orbison, his voice as perfect as ever, the guitars are wonderful and the harmonies have a real fifties beatles sound to them, you can hear Lynnes production skills all over this, but Orbisons voice soars and is the star of this song, it's a beautiful song about not being alone anymore and you really believe in it, again this is a perfectly formed pop song and astoundingly well made.
Congratulations - Tom Petty gets the chance to rasp his way through this, the contrast of his rattling voice with that of some of the others is really interesting and I really enjoy it, this is a bittersweet song where he congratulates his love on breaking his heart, his sorrow is a great song in itself but the chorus really draws a whole lot of bitterness out of it.
Heading for the Light - Harrison takes vocals again, it's a bit depressing and while the productions fine, its not one of my favourite songs on the album, the instruments are great as are the lyrics but there are many better songs on this album.
Margarita - Great Chorus, great use of guitars and saxophone, the backing vocals are superb, it basically involves the band singing Margarita very slowly over a riff, Dylan rasps in with talk of a fight, lyrically this song is a great story, it allows the band to sing together and in groups, there are some silly lyrics on here but the song is great fun and I am not going to begrudge this band a chance to have a riffing session.
Tweeter and the Monkey Man - Dylan sings this song about a drug dealer and her monkey man, this is a wicked tune, great story and vocals, the backing is splendid as always, apparently this may be a playful dig by Dylan and Petty at Bruce Springsteen, including many of his song titles in the lyrics, it's a cool Americana type story and allows Dylan to do what he does best.
End of the Line - A great song to finish the album on, Harrison starts the song with backing vocals from all, Petty gets a sing, as does Orbison and Dylan, it's a chance for everyone to say good bye in their own particular way, its well produced and it's a joy hearing everybody one more time, its melodic and a lovely song. The chorus is catchy and uses these great vocalists equally.
Well considering most supergroups end up being glorious failures, torn by division and everyone wanting to be in charge this album is a pleasant change, each individual member of 'the family' has their own song and you can hear all of their styles in the pieces, from Dylan's writing to Harrisons harmonies, Lynne's production and Petty's bittersweet stories, Orbison is exceptional and he and Harrison were greatly missed on later albums. The songs mix country, pop and Americana blues, the harmonies are exceptional and the singing is brilliant.
This is a fun album, its not ground breaking, but it is bloody good and mixes some amazing artists and lets them riff and have fun but never at the expense of the listener. The songs have stories, melodies, are utterly listenable and the whole album is very likeable. I would recommend this to fans of any of the artists or anyone who enjoys good melodic music.
How much does it cost?
The Mp3 album is great value at £4.98 on Amazon, the songs are long and while there aren't many they are perfectly formed and don't try too hard.
Let me sing the praises of this incredible album by what is probably the greatest supergroup ever assembled and which was first released over 15 years ago. If you've never heard these songs before, you'll have heard the songs before! It's like that with the Wilburys. There's country and folk and rock'n'roll with a touch of the blues and a hint of Latin and Caribbean. THE ALBUM The running order (and my own assessment out of five) is as follows: 1. Handle Me With Care (3:20) ****** This is a delightful duet between Nelson and Lefty with contributions from the rest of the band in the chorus. The melody is a lovely romantic theme. There are shades of refrains from songs by those young whipper-snappers that gave us "My Sweet Lord" and "Pretty Woman" 2. Dirty World (3:30) ****** Hot country! Let me introduce you to the members of my gang! Lucky Wilbury in fine voice here with a song borrowing phrases from "I Like Bread And Butter!" Can I even hear the old Bob Hope number "Buttons and Bows" in there somewhere? 3. Rattled. (3:00) ****** Otis leads a fast paced rocker. There's a big 'O' throated rattle prominent in the chorus. 4. Last Night (3:48) ****** All the boys join together in this calypso 5. Not Alone Any More (3:24) ****** Lefty is back again with a 'sha-la-la-la' backing and an arrangement reminiscent of Freddy Cannon's "Pallisades Park". He comes to one of his typical high pitch climaxes. 6. Congratulations (3:30) ****** Not Cliff R. but Charlie T. A medium paced ballad with a heavy orchestral backing lamenting the loss of a sweetheart. 7. Heading For The Light (3:37) ****** The lead singer is accompanied by jangling guitars and an insistent beat. I gather that those young upstarts, the Beatles, were influenced to a large d
egree by Nelson Wilbury. 8. Margarita (3:16) ****** Lucky leads another upbeat rocker with a full orchestral arrangement. There are Latin American influences in the refrains of the chorus. 9. Tweeter And The Monkey Man (5:30) ****** Lucky recounts a story of police, racketeers, drugs and busts. ELO borrowed heavily from arrangement style. 10. End Of The Line (3:30) ****** Those jangling guitars are back behind Charlie T. and Lefty with rest of the boys in support. This is a gentle lilting song to round off the whole gal darned she-bang! This album is great fun, has a tremendous beat and superb varied rhythms. The boys are all in fine voice. So much so that I gave every song a 'five' (us country hicks never could count!) It's marked on all the browsers as unavailable now. If you've never heard the Wilbury's for goodness sake send in one of they email things to support it's re-release. You'll find an address at http://www.geocities.com/nelsonwilbury/faq.html. Apparently Nelson Wilbury has now the rights to the recordings and may agree to a re-issue. I'm told you might also find second hand copies at www3.gemm.com TRAVELING WILBURYS VOL.1. - The Traveling Wilburys (1988) WILBURY RECORDS CD 925796-2 (Recent bid price for second hand used copy - $ 63.95) The lyrics to all the songs are published on the web at http://www.indiana-girl.se/tw/tw_lyrics.html MY TRIBUTE I offer this review as a tribute to two great musical personalities - George Harrison himself [1943-2001] singer, guitarist, songwriter and Roy Orbison [1936-1988]: the legendary big 'O'. O.K.: So who are the Traveling Wilbury's? As I said above this is probably the greatest supergroup of all time. The line up was: Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison); Charlie T. (Tom Petty); Lefty (Roy Orbison); Lucky (Bob Dylan) and Otis (Jeff Lynne). They
came together to record this one album at the instigation of George at the time that Jeff was supervising one of his solo recording sessions. They also created a charity single. They never played 'live' or toured together. Tragically Roy Orbison died of a heart attack soon after the album was released. There is one other album (Wilburys Volume Three!) released in the mid 90s by the remaining four members which is dedicated to Roy. I understand that the name of the 'Wilbury' was coined by George Harrison for the gremlins that creep into instruments and equipment during recording sessions. The 'Traveling' was added at Bob Dylan?s suggestion. The album cover is a spoof - recounting a history of a mythical people who developed the art of travelling and playing music. CHART INFORMATION Realeased in October 1988, the album itself peaked at No.16 in the UK and No.3 in the US. Two singles were taken from the album. 'Handle With Care' coupled with 'Margarita' reached No.21 in Britain and No.45 in America. 'End of the Line' backed by 'Congratulations' saw No.52 and No.63 respectively in 1989. [Chart information has been gleaned from "The Great Rock Discography" - Sixth Edition (2002) by M.C.Strong] As mentioned in the review proper, this album is no longer available and copies have changed hands in internet auctions for £100 or more. George, apparently, fell out with Warner Brothers Records - the distributors at the time - and withdrew the rights for a repressing. There was a suggestion that it might be reissued in 2001 but events overtook this. The rights now presumably rest with his estate, so we can only hope that his heirs, supported possibly by Jeff Lynne, can come to some arrangement to let the world have access to this brilliant album again. Even if you can't buy a copy, this is a "must listen" album: if you can find one.
(- and no, I won't sell you my copy for any sort of fist full of dollars)
In October 1988 a new single, ‘Handle With Care’, found its way onto our radio stations with surprisingly little hype. I say surprisingly, as the group, the Traveling Wilburys, were rumoured to be a collection of five individual rock heavyweights. A round of interviews and press features soon confirmed it. The accidental supergroup came about when George Harrison wanted to write and record an additional track as a bonus for his forthcoming single ‘This Is Love’, the third to be taken from his successful album ‘Cloud Nine’. Jeff Lynne, who had just laid ELO to rest, was producing George at the time, as well as working on albums with Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. They all came along for the ride. As they didn’t have a studio, they went to Bob Dylan’s house to borrow a tape machine. All five picked up their guitars together, looked no further for a title than a cardboard box in the garage labelled ‘Handle With Care’, and a new song was born. Opening with a crisp 12-string guitar intro and finishing with a gorgeous coda on slide guitar and harmonica, George and Jeff shared the main verses. There were some lyrics that were amusing, self-mocking, just plain weird – “Been stuck in airports, terrorized, Sent to meetings, hypnotized, Over-exposed, commercialized, Handle me with care”. They provided a bridge for Roy, “I’m so tired of being lonely, I still have some love to give...” (as George said, they just had to have a bit for ‘The Big O’ about loneliness), and another bridge with Bob and Tom harmonising. Quite rightly, the record company said this song was much too good to bury on the B-side of a single. How about a complete album? The basic songs had to be written and recorded within ten days, as Bob was about to go on tour. Overdubs and final mixing took another five weeks, with saxophone from Jim Horn, plus percussion from Elton
John sideman Ray Cooper and drummer Jim Keltner. (Ringo Starr, the obvious choice of drummer, was in rehab at the time). What followed could have been a self-indulgent disaster. Luckily, it turned out the complete opposite. All five were on a roll, and came up with nine more collaborations that balanced tongue-in-cheek humour, good lyrics and strong melodies in equal measure. In particular Jeff, whose boredom with ELO had been evident from the last two albums which screamed ‘contract-filler’, and Bob, whose last couple of albums had been poorly received, evidently found new inspiration from bouncing ideas off the others, and came up with their best songs for ages. ‘Handle With Care’ is track one. Next comes ‘Dirty World’, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about “love your sexy body” and hilarious metaphors about car maintenance. The handiwork of Bob, who jokingly suggested they do a ‘dirty’ song like Prince. 'Rattled' is a brisk rockabilly track, modelled rather loosely one suspects on Elvis’s ‘Mystery Train’. To coin a phrase, if you’re going to steal – steal from the best. ‘Last Night’, has a slightly calypso flavour, a sunny feel enhanced by Jim Horn’s saxophone work which reminds you of nothing so much as The Beat (the early 80s band of ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ fame). To follow comes what is surely the album’s loveliest song, ‘Not Alone Any More’, in which swooping strings provide the perfect intro for a mid-tempo song by Roy, similar in feel to ‘You Got It’, the posthumous hit he was to ‘enjoy’ [sic] a matter of weeks later. That peerless voice, surely the greatest ever in 50s rock’n’roll, could still send shivers down the spine three decades on. Track six (or side two, track one, if like me you have the vinyl album), ‘Congratulations
8217;, is a piece of dark humour from Bob, a kind of ‘love messes you up’ lyric – “congratulations, you came out on top, congratulations, you never knew when to stop”. ‘Heading For The Light’ is a jaunty song with George to the fore, close in feel to his 1981 single ‘All Those Years Ago’. ‘Margarita’, mainly instrumental, boasts some pungent lead guitar and a brass section adding a Spanish flavour, lyrics coming halfway through and added as if they were an afterthought. ‘Tweeter And The Monkey Man’, at over five minutes easily the longest track, is reputedly Bob sending up both himself and Bruce Springsteen in equal measure. Tweeter, the first verse tells us, was a boy scout before she went to Vietnam (girls will be boys?), then linked up with the Monkey Man, selling cocaine to an undercover cop, looking for freedom just across the Jersey line, then hopped into a stolen car and took Highway 99. Eat your heart out, Bruce. Finally, the cheery singalong ‘End Of The Line’ finds them all taking vocal spots in turn. “Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze – it’s all right – if you live the life you please.” Oh yes, the Wilburys were called Nelson (a.k.a. George), Otis (Jeff), Charlie T. Jnr (Tom), Lucky (Bob) and Lefty (Roy). Though their real names appear nowhere on the packaging, the pictures make it obvious who’s who. This joke is carried even further by a daft story on the inner sleeve/CD booklet chronicling the history of the Wilbury tribe from time immemorial, long before they started traveling, courtesy of Hugh Jampton. That’s Monty Pythoner Michael Palin to the rest of us, based on an idea by George. Tentative plans for them to take the show on the road, all five doing a few songs on their own and then performing the album as a group, were sadly thwarted. Just six weeks afte
r it was released, Roy collapsed and died of a heart attack. This album sounded like a breath of fresh air when it came out (1988 was the era of self-important stadium megastars like U2 and Simple Minds), and it still sounds just as good. Forget about trying to break musical boundaries – this is a return to the roots, five old and very famous friends having fun, rediscovering the folk and skiffle roots which originally inspired a generation to take up the guitar. There are a few rough edges, but the effect is one of spontaneity rather than slapdash or self-indulgent doodling. It certainly comes across that way, and apart from rather short playing time (37 mins) I for one can’t fault it. ‘Handle With Care’ and ‘End Of The Line’, both released as singles, still get a regular airing on Radio 2 and other stations. Sadly, the album has been deleted for several years. George owned full rights to all the Traveling Wilburys catalogue, as well as everything he recorded and issued on his Dark Horse label (i.e. after he left Apple Records/EMI), so the long-promised reissue programme looks a long way off. Try combing the Net, e-Bay, or even the unofficial (but very informative) website, www.wilburys.info, and expect to pay at least £15-£20 for a CD, cassette or LP in mint condition if you can find one.