New Traveling Wilburys Released: Volume 3
By John Rescigno
Clarkson Integrator — Monday, November 5, 1990
Amidst a surprisingly modest of hype, The Traveling Wilburys have released their second album — Volume 3. Yes, I know. It’s simple. They skipped Volume 2. Don’t worry about it. Spike, Muddy, Clayton and Boo Wilbury, better known as George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan, combine their talents to produce an excellent recording.
The sound of Volume 3 is quite similar to Volume 1. Four of the most popular and accomplished guitarists in the business, produced by Lynne and Harrison, combine to make a completely enjoyable sound. Many of the songs have the same bright feeling as “Handle with Care” and “Heading For The Light” did on the first album. The first two songs on the album, “She’s My Baby” and “Inside Out” have a strong, present acoustic feeling. While this album lacks the talent of Roy Orbison, who died shortly after Volume 1 was released, it is no less perfect than the first release.
Each of the musicians, while quite similar, contributes a different aspect to the whole. Dylan’s legendary harmonica playing and singing are present on “If You Belonged To Me.” Petty’s voice graces many of the songs, while Lynne’s eclectic musical abilities are shown off on keyboards, bass and guitars. Harrison’s skill on the electric and slide guitars are present in the fore of almost every song. Each of the songs, while they have the same elements, are usually quite different from each other in style.
The first two tracks are somewhat similar to styles on Petty’s latest album: Full Moon Fever. All the Wilburys sing on this track, as they do on many of them. They are both powerful songs. Petty sings most of the lead on “She’s My Baby” and Dylan sings lead on “Inside Out.” Gary Moore makes a cameo appearance on lead guitar on “She’s My Baby.” “If You Belonged To Me” is similar to some of Dylan’s earlier material, though Petty’s influence is present in the entire song. Dylan’s voice, that has grated on several generations, is the same as ever. Personally, I love it. It’s not dissonant, just extremely nasal. He manages to put a great deal of emotion in his singing. He hasn’t lost a thing from his earlier days of “Lay Lady, Lay,” and “Like A Rolling Stone.”
“The Devil’s Been Busy” features Petty’s vocals again, though there is a little trading off with Lynne. Harrison plays Sitar in the background giving the sound a much more mystic feeling. This is a song that, with all the guitar, one could see the Byrds performing. It has as bright a sound as the first tracks did. After that song, the album slows down again. “Seven Deadly Sins” is a Neo-1950’s song. Dylan’s vocals grace the traditional 1-4-5 chord progression. After several listenings, this song may well become one of the favorites on the album. It’s rather simplistic, though it is enjoyable. The lyrics are cute, and the sound is hard enough to keep people interested even when, in a lesser song, one would sicken of it.
“Poor House” is what one would call a “Country-Western” song. But don’t worry, it’s not as bad as that might sound. It’s amusing listening to Petty and Lynne sing with a drawl. The song is fun to listen to, and it has the traditional Wilbury Sound. Harrison’s guitar, both slide and not, ring out thorough the entire song. I suppose it’s about as annoying as “Congratulations” was on the first album, only this is a faster song. The simplicity exhibited in the song, mixed with the knowledge of who is playing it, make it strangely attractive. You’ll see.
12-String guitar and Bob Dylan’s voice begin “Where Were You Last Night?” Harrison sings alternate verses in it. This song is definitely one of the most melodic ones on Volume 3. It has already become one of my favorites. Just the sounds of it and the interplay between the vocals make it great. It is an interesting contrast to “Cool Dry Place,” which has Petty on vocal and is possibly the strangest song on the record. The music is usual Wilbury material, but the lyrics are entirely Petty. Petty’s unique lyrical style, as seen in “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Zombie Zoo” and “Yer So Bad” from his earlier work, is present in this song. Harrison’s guitar lends a cool middle solo to it, but the lyrics take it all.
The most harmonic song on the album, in my opinion, is “New Blue Moon.” The feel is early American 1960s, with a slight swing tempo and feel to it. Harrison sings most of the song, but the backing vocals lend the power that the song has. Dylan’s vocals in the middle section are good, but Harrison’s voice is the vocal treat in this one. It is rather unlike previous Wilbury material, but is as good as anything they’ve ever done. This is perhaps the most enjoyable song on Volume 3. “You Took My Breath Away” is a very mellow song with Petty on vocals. The progression is similar to music by Procol Harum in the 1970s. Interesting changes that, while not precisely traditional, seem to be absolutely perfect in relation to each other. This is the slowest song on the album. The lack of a huge tempo takes nothing from the song, however. This song, as with all of them, has an absolutely full sound to it. The multi-tracks of guitar lend a presence to harmonies that very few bands could ever hope to attain as powerfully as the Wilburys do. The final song on Volume 3 is simply the “Wilbury Twist.” It’s a really upbeat tune, giving instructions to the Wilbury Twist: ‘Put your hand on your head, put your foot in the air. Then you hop around the room in your underwear…Lift your other foot up, fall on your ass. Get back up, put your teeth in a glass…” And so on. It is certainly a fun song. The music is very powerful, perhaps the most “electric” song on the album. It’s a great way to end a great album.
Volume 3 is a record that lets the artist’ charismas show. They are not egoistical, but they realize they were among the most famous people in the business, and they take fun liberties with that. Songs like “Seven Deadly Sins” and “Wilbury Twist” are too far from the popular mark to make it on their own. There are no unenjoyable facets to this album. Each song shines on its own, and lends itself to the brightness that the whole album exhibits. The production and recording is superb. Each track is present, yet there is no muddled feel that is the bane of so many artists. Saxophones on the album are played by Jim Horn. They are not intrusive, but rather lend themselves to the whole.
In short, I highly recommend Volume 3 to just about everyone. It looks like the vacancy in the band won’t be filled, however. After Roy Orbison’s death, they asked Del Shannon, who recorded “Runaway,” to join the band. Shortly after, Del Shannon killed himself. Volume 3 is dedicated to the memory of “Lefty Wilbury,” better known as Roy Orbison. While his presence could never completely be refilled, the band remains strong in his absence. Orbison’s beautiful voice is forever lost, though.
The C.D., while only 36 minutes long, seems a great deal longer. The 11 tracks are full enough to make this relatively short album quite complete. Volume 3 is available from Warner Bros #23624. Special thanks to Desert Island music for supplying the music.