135 of 136 people found the following review helpful
An unforgettable music experience,
This review is from: The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (Audio CD)
This album is brilliant! This was definitely one of the most exciting music projects to come out of the '80s. There had been "super-groups" before, like the Yardbirds or Blind Faith, but it was unprecedented to have FIVE well-established rock 'n roll greats (Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty) form their own band and bring out two records, and it was a trans-Atlantic collaboration. The story goes that ex-ELO maestro Jeff was helping produce new albums by George and the others, when they decided, "Hey, why not try to bring out a whole album together?!"
Part of the beauty of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 is that it is so under-stated. It's not like the five guys were saying, "Look at us, we're a super-group!" No, they got pure enjoyment from their collaboration, appearing almost mysteriously as five "Wilbury" brothers. You first had to figure out who those guys in sunglasses were on the album cover.
That notwithstanding, this album was also invaluable for the appreciation it gave the legendary Roy Orbison for a new generation. It made me interested in his songs from way back, even before the movie Pretty Woman gave him new exposure. Sadly, Orbison died soon after Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was released. The band commemorated his passing in their music video for the single, "End of the Line." When Orbison sings, a guitar is shown in an otherwise empty rocking chair.
But the first song I heard from this album was the catchy story-song, "Tweeter and the Monkey Man." It was Bob Dylan, but it was more. What a great song! It got a lot of airplay in South Africa, where I grew up. The first single, "Handle With Care," is also excellent, with Harrison leading the vocals and the other guys chiming in.
Bob does a great job on "Dirty World," which has some really funny tongue-in-cheek lyrics, e.g., "I love her big refrigerator." "Rattled" is fine rockabilly sung by Jeff Lynne and with Roy adding his trademark growls. "Last Night" with its reggae beat is probably my favorite track, a humorous story of misguided love as sung by Petty and with a fine bridge by Orbison. Roy himself shines on the track written for him, "Not Alone Anymore." "Margarita" on side two is also an excellent song with the guys trading lead vocals.
Jeff Lynne's production, as well as familiar vocals by the parts of the whole, gave continuity to the Wilburys' solo albums: George's Cloud Nine, Petty's Full Moon Fever, Orbison's Mystery Girl and Lynne's own Armchair Theatre. I think of these albums as collectively being the missing Vol. 2.
We await the re-issue of Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 on CD. Warner Brothers, are you listening?