Rocks In The Attic #335: The Travelling Wilburys – ‘Traveling Wilburys Vol 1’ (1988)

RITA#335As a rule I don’t go for supergroups. There’s too much ego, hype and general bullshit to get in the way. At least with this album, there’s no truth to spoil the illusion – none of the contributors (George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty) are mentioned anywhere on the album sleeve. Instead, they’re only represented by their pseudonyms (Nelson, Lucky, Lefty, Otis and Charlie T. Jr. respectively). The album’s liner notes are by Michael Palin (again, under a pseudonym – Hugh Jampton), which is another nice touch.

It just sounds like a bad dream though, doesn’t it? George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty? All songwriters well past their prime, and in Orbison’s case, close to the end of his life. The production – by Lynne and Harrison – is about as far from analogue as you can get; everything sounds digitised and far too clean. The guitars all sound the same on every single track – clean, bouncy and soul-less acoustic guitar, and like everything that Harrison was touching in his solo career, that horrible overdriven slide guitar of his is over the whole album like a bad stain.

You’d be forgiven for expecting the songs to be pretty good, given the calibre of the songwriters involved. As a collection of songs, they’re not too bad – the album’s only real saving grace. Handle With Care and End Of The Line are great tunes (from Harrison) and the only song I dislike is the dirge of Dylan’s Tweeter And The Monkey Man.

The album does succeed in coming across as it is intended to be. That is, four middle-aged guys and a senior citizen having a sing-song in somebody’s garage.

Hit: Handle With Care

Hidden Gem: Last Night

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2 thoughts on “Rocks In The Attic #335: The Travelling Wilburys – ‘Traveling Wilburys Vol 1’ (1988)

  1. Quirky T

    So happy to see a post on The Traveling Wilburys. I listened to them when they first came out because as a Beatles fan, I was interested in George Harrison. I rediscovered the group 4 years ago and played the songs constantly on my iPod.
    I also really like “Handle with Care” and “End of the Line”. To them, I would also add “Heading for the Light” as a favorite. I love the story telling framework of “Last Night” and Roy Orbison’s voice on “Not Alone Any More.” It’s a fun album to listen to. Your post made me want to hear their music again so I’m listening to it now.

    Reply

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