It's very safe to say there's never been a band like the Traveling Wilburys and equally fair to state no such band has been regarded as they have, either at the time of their inception or with the benefit of hindsight as afforded by the comprehensive package that is The Traveling Wilburys Collection
Yet even this composite of audio and video can't fully detail the nuances of the Wilburys' interpersonal dynamics or the perception of them by the public. Certainly, the quintet, comprised of guitarist/composer Tom Petty
,the late guitarist/composer George Harrison
, composer/multi-instrumentalist Bob Dylan
, vocalist/guitarist Roy Orbison
and producer/musician Jeff Lynne, was unlike most super-groups.
For one thing, that phenomenon, arguably spurred by Eric Clapton
, then Blind Faith
with Steve Winwood
, had essentially peaked by the time of their 1988 formation. In addition,the stature of this group's members was demonstrably higher than many individuals considered part of similarly-regarded bands: after all, the Wilburys boasted a former Beatle and a comparable (if not even more highly- elevated) cultural icon in the person of Dylan among their ranks.
But those aforementioned participants were as in awe of Orbison, a longstanding pop figure dating back to the early Sixties, as the others. Working on the Petty solo album Full Moon Fever
(MCA, 1989), he and Lynne were developing a working relationship by the time of this alliance, simultaneous to the natural growth of the friendship between the leader of the Heartbreakers and the iconoclastic Harrison. No doubt too Dylan relished the opportunity to interact on both a creative and personal level with those he considered peers (Petty and his Heartbreakers had backed him on the road and in the studio just two years prior) without undue pressure to assume the role of focal point.
All of which dynamics might well be invisible to an audience that made popular an otherwise slight piece of folk- pop (it doesn't rock by any stretch), "Handle With Care," the Wilburys' first hit. With the group's performances relegated exclusively to video and their sophomore album lacking the distinctive tones of Orbison's voice-he passed in 1988, later in the year the debut album came out-the superficial novelty of the Traveling Wilburys wore off rather quickly, perhaps in direct proportion to the tongue-in-cheek attitude the group's members brought to the collaboration.
All that said, it's nevertheless worthwhile to investigate the results of their working methods, for example, "End of the Line," if only to reaffirm what a resounding antidote the Wilburys' constituted to the pompous congregations of questionable pedigree that arose from the super-group phenomenon. This unusual fraternity was also able to pierce the overly reverential approach toward works by solo Beatles and a Dylan in search of his muse at this time (keep in mind this was prior to Oh Mercy
(Columbia, 1989) or Time Out of Mind
Certainly, Jeff Lynne, a member of the British iconoclasts The Move, and founder of the Electric Light Orchestra, also relished the chance to participate, even if his main responsibility was to tend to the relatively mundane technical aspects of recording and producing (the erstwhile but redoubtable drummer Jim Keltner was used to such select company, having worked with three of The Beatles
solo , Crosby Stills & Nash
and Dylan, plus a host of other well-known names over the course of his career).
Both Traveling Wilburys albums are within this Collection
, along with two bonus tracks for each, while the enclosed DVD contains the music videos and content created to nurture the faux myth of the group. Albeit with knowing and solemn sincerity, even record company exec Mo Ostin got in on a joke that, by the time the second album was released, seemed more than a little forced: each member adopted yet another first name. Perhaps dropping the (semi-) facetious facade would've been a better ploy, if for no other reason than as homage to Orbison.
A package almost identical to this collection has been in the marketplace before, along with more ornate editions than this, but those were out almost a decade ago and had gone out of print in the interim. Fans of the individuals in the 'band' will find this release hard to resist, if they missed the initial releases, while the glossy, colorful digi-pak in itself makes it attractive as much for collectors as completists.
So even if tunes like Dylan's "Tweeter & The Monkey Man" are minor by definition (notwithstanding part of a Grammy Award-winning title), the setting in which they reside, despite various other cross-pollinations over the course of time, is really like no other other in the individual artists respective discographies.
CD 1: Handle with Care; Dirty World; Rattled; Last Night; Not Alone Any More;
Congratulations; Heading for the Light; Margarita; Tweeter and the Monkey Man;
End of the Line; Maxine; Like a Ship. CD 2: She's My Baby; Inside Out; If You
Belonged To Me; Devil's Been Busy; 7 Deadly Sins; Poor House; Where Were You
Last Night?; Cool Dry Place; New Blue Moon; You Took My Breath Away; Wilbury
Twist; Nobody's Child; Runaway. DVD : The True History of the Traveling
Wilburys; Handle With Care; End of the Line; She's My Baby; Inside Out; Wilbury
Vol. 1: Lucky Wilbury (Dylan) : acoustic guitar, lead & backing Vocals; Otis
Wilbury (Lynne): keyboards, guitars, lead & backing vocals; Charlie T. Jr. (Petty)
: acoustic guitar, lead & backing Vocals; Lefty Wilbury (Orbison) : acoustic
guitar, lead & backing Vocals; Nelson Wilbury (Harrison): guitars, lead & backing
vocals. . Vol. 3: Spike Wilbury (Harrison) : acoustic & electric guitars, mandolins,
sitar, lead & backing vocals; Muddy Wilbury (Petty) ; acoustic guitar, lead &
backing vocals; : Clayton Wilbury (Lynne) : acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards,
leading & lacking vocals: : Boo Wilbury (Dylan) : acoustic Guitar, harmonica,
lead & backing vocals; Jim Keltner: drums, percussion; Jim Horn: saxophones;
Ray Cooper: percussion; Ian Wallace: tom-toms on “Handle With Care; ” Ayrton
Wilbury (Dhani Harrison) : guitar solo & backing vocals on “Maxine; ”Otis
Wilbury: guitar solo on “Like A Ship; ”
Otis and Ayrton Wilbury: additional backing ocals on “Like A Ship;” lead guitar on
“She’s My Baby:” Gary Moore; Clayton Wilbury: clavioline solo on “Runaway.”