All-star Wilburys regroup
By Kevin C. Heil
The Villanovan – November 16, 1990
Volume 3 | Traveling Wilburys | Warner Bros. Records | ★★★
For those who may have missed Volume 2 by the Traveling Wilburys, there were not any new surprises because there was no album. However, their second release, Volume 3, leaves off right where their debut, Volume One, started.
The Wilburys, Muddy (Tom Petty), Boo (Bob Dylan), Clayton (Jeff Lynne) and Spike (George Harrison) have crafted another simple, straight forward album showcasing the talents of four of the best rhythm guitarists in music.
Fittingly, the album is dedicated to their late brother Lefty (Roy Orbison), who died shortly after the release of their debut.
In Volume 3, they have parodied the record business and their own individual fame, while putting egos aside and providing a thoroughly enjoyable album.
Volume 3 is a clear indication that Petty and Dylan have taken over as the pre-eminent voices of the quartet. Lynne and Harrison seem content providing background vocals on most tracks or trading off verses with their counterparts.
The group provides several rock staples like “She’s My Baby,” “The Devil’s Been Busy” and “New Blue Moon.” But the Wilburys also sail into the uncharted waters of 1950’s ballads and country music. “Seven Deadly Sins” would be a great addition to any 1950’s-style jukebox, while “Poor House” is a faithful rendition of contemporary rockabilly.
Two of the most notable tracks are also two of the best. “Cool Dry Place” is a hilarious piece about the proper climatic conditions necessary to store a band’s equipment. The final track, “Wilbury Twist” is full of nonsensical lyrics (“Put your hand on your head, Put your foot in the air and Then you hop around the room in your underwear.”)
The album’s inner sleeve comedically pictures the steps of this dance. In this process, it provides an excellent parody of songs like “Vogue” and “The Twist,” which have become more well-known as dances than songs.
The Wilburys’ music is simple and their lyrics are not filled with jungian philosophy or highly-charged political statements. It is just four guitar greats sitting around and having a good time and isn’t that what rock n’ roll is all about?