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

John Vanderslice: Emerald City (Longtime Listener)

John Vanderslice: Emerald City (Longtime Listener)

You have to admire someone who kicks off their solo career with a hoax in which it was suggested that Microsoft (whose logo he had mimicked on his first single Bill Gates Must Die) was getting... > Read more

Cloud Control: Dream Cave (Mushroom)

Cloud Control: Dream Cave (Mushroom)

This self-styled indie-rock outfit from Sydney's Blue Mountains have won two Arias and, in 2011, the Australian Music Prize which netted them a cool A$30,000. And on this, their second album,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

Omar and the Howlers: Essential Collection (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Omar and the Howlers: Essential Collection (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Out of Mississippi by way of the Lone Star State, Omar Kent Dykes is one of the tough Texas blues guitar players whose no nonsense style is perfectly complemented by his various line-ups (usually... > Read more