Travelling Wilburys sell a lot of records
By Andy Warren
The Chronicle — January 23, 1989
Super group’s debut album sells big with well-rounded artistic release
For such a new group, The Travelling Wilburys sure are selling a ton of their self-named album. Sam the Record Man in Oshawa was completely sold out of their debut recording last month.
If you do find the album and see the cover, you might think these five guys look familiar. Listening to it, you’ll discover that Lucky Wilbury is actually Bob Dylan, and Lefty Wilbury is none other than Tom Petty. Those three other guys disguised in sunglasses are Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. Definitely a fine collection of songwriters and musicians.
When word got out that these lads were all collaborating on an LP, critics surmised it was the big record company executives who were trying to harvest yet some more money. That may be so, but these musicians do not need money. one listen to this album and its obvious these give are in it for the sheer fun of making music. And what music it is.
This album is fun and upbeat; containing some of the best singing Dylan has done in a while.
There is no mention of the artists’ real names. This makes it fun to guess who might have written the songs and who is actually singing them.
The first song on the albm and the one that gets the most airplay is, Handle Me With Care. All five sing at different points on this one and the words convey that these men have been through the grinder. Harrison sings, “I’ve been popped up and I’ve been the fool, I’ve been robbed and ridiculed, daycare centers and high schools, handle me with care.” A fine pop song that was detined for FM play.
The best song on the album is Dirty World. Dyan sings this one to an upbeat horn progression and a loose backup vocal by the rest of the boys, making it come across like a song written by an eighteen year old.
“Oooh baby, you’re such a pretty thing, I can’t wait to introduce you to my gang,” and “Oooh, baby, you’re such a tasty treat, but I’m under doctor’s doctors, I mustn’t overeat.”
The rest of the song talks of necking in cars. It’s a fun tune with the melody flowing lightly, sounding at times like an AM hit.
Petty has lead vocals in the song Last Night. It’s a slow, funky tune that has Petty growling out the tale of a drunken girl he met at a bar. The guitars are acoustic and the feeling of grittiness prevails.
Orbison belts out a hurtin’ song in Not Alone Anymore. This sad, melodic tune refrains, “I’ll see you through the rain, through the heartache and the pain, it hurts like never before, you’re not alone anymore.”
Although the hurt is evident, the background vocals and Sha-la-la’s by the rest of the Wilburys can’t help but make this tune happier.
Heading For The Light is an obvious Harrison tune. In the same vein as My Sweet Lord and What is Life, Harrison claims, throughout his worldly ordeal, that he stills knows he is heading for the light. Like most of the songs on this album, this one tends to have a happy melody and optimistic lyrics.
The last song on the album is suitably called End Of The Line. This one also seems to be a Harrison contribution. It lets the listeners know that, “It’s all right.”
It is alright, even if, “You are old and grey; if the sun don’t shine; if there is no one around; if your heart aches; if your eyes don’t work.”
Yes, this song makes you feel everything is all right.
This album is better than all right. In fact it is a well-rounded, solid, fun album that showcases these performers equally and positively.