The Traveling Wilburys: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Rhino/Warners)

 |   |  1 min read

The Traveling Wilburys: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Rhino/Warners)

Cannot lie about this: when the first Wilburys album came out in '88 I gave it a cursory listen and wrote it off as some geriatric project which was doubtless enjoyable for all concerned, but was actually just dull.

The Dylan track I heard sounded like a parody or self-parody, Harrison was back into his troppo-strumming style, Petty who used to rock hard had obviously taken the valium, and only Roy Orbison seemed to come out with any dignity.

Jeff Lynne seemed present but absent, if you get my drift.

I promptly forgot about the Wilburys, then Roy died and they came back into the sightlines, and there was the Roy-less second album which I also passed on.

Well, that was then and this is now -- and I was wrong.

Back in the late 80s/early 90s I guess I was spending too much time listening to Guns N'Roses, REM, Nirvana and the Seattle bands, and the Pixies. In that context the Wilburys really did sound rather tame.

Dad-rock I think we called it.

But almost 20 years on their music sounds so much more interesting, especially in the light of the alt.country and country rock which seems to be in the air today.

So this impressive reissue -- the two albums with some extra tracks, a DVD with a 24-minute doco and five video clips -- really is worth attention.

Dylan is more witty than I remembered, the harmonies are cheerful, the melodies memorable (I knew every track of the few I gave attention to 20 years ago, and I'd only heard them once), and there is a mutual respect evident which doesn't translate into shallow mutual admiration of the kind that would have weighed down lesser players. I even forgive Petty for the astonishingly dull interview he did with me at the time, which only confirmed what I thought about this project.

The Wilburys don't "rock" as such (although on their second album they really do toughen up in way I hadn't expected), but they do have a catalogue of fine songs that well deserve this long overdue reconsideration.

I was wrong. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

PS: You might want to count the number of references to Bruce Springsteen songs that Dylan makes in Tweeter and the Monkey Man -- Springsteen of course once touted as "the new Dylan"!

Share It

Your Comments

Gavin Hancock - Dec 13, 2011

Yes you were wrong, G! They're having fun (with nothing left to prove) and it shows. One of the few "manufactured" supergroups worth listening to.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some... > Read more

Neil Young: Storytone (Warners)

Neil Young: Storytone (Warners)

We've mentioned this before so at the risk of being predictable . . . the problem with “unpredictable” Neil Young these days is that he has become predictable. So after Le Noise (true... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE PROBLEM WITH MUSIC IN NEW ZEALAND AND HOW TO FIX IT by IAN JORGENSEN

THE PROBLEM WITH MUSIC IN NEW ZEALAND AND HOW TO FIX IT by IAN JORGENSEN

The memory is indelible. It was the early Nineties and there was a local band I wanted to see play at a bar in Auckland. After work I went home, ate, muddled about and went to the venue at... > Read more

REMASTERS, REISSUES AND CREDIT CARD-KILLING SETS COMING UP (2018): Living in a box (set)

REMASTERS, REISSUES AND CREDIT CARD-KILLING SETS COMING UP (2018): Living in a box (set)

By any measure 1968 was yet another remarkable year in rock history, it built on the astonishing debut albums of '67 and established artists like the Beatles and the Stones unleashed some of their... > Read more