You Picked It! – The Traveling Wilburys – ‘Traveling Wilbury’s Volume 1’ – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! And this one was really, really close. It was a tie most of the way through between Weezer’s ‘Van Weezer’ and The Traveling Wilburys ‘Traveling Wilburys Volume 1’. The winner, barely, was The Traveling Wilburys ‘Traveling Wilburys Volume 1’ which is one in my collection. The votes were as follows:

  1. The Traveling Wilburys – ‘Traveling Wilburys Volume 1’ – 7 votes
  2. Weezer – ‘Van Weezer’ – 6 votes
  3. John Lennon – ‘The Plastic Ono Band’ – 4 votes
  4. Fugees – ‘The Score’ – 2 votes
  5. The Beatles – ‘Rubber Soul’ – 1 Vote

Thanks to all for participating. The July choices will be up on Saturday!

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS – ‘TRAVELING WILBURYS VOLUME 1’

In what could quite possibly be the greatest supergroup of all time, The Traveling Wilburys is made up of some of the most iconic singers/musicians in the business. In 1988, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan joined forces and became the alter egos of The Traveling Wilburys – Nelson Wilbury (George), Lefty Wilbury (Roy), Charlie T. Wilbury Jr. (Tom), Otis Wilbury (Jeff) and Lucky Wilbury (Bob). And the band came about because George Harrison needed a B-Side for his 1987 album, ‘Cloud Nine’ and he had asked them to help and one thing lead to another and here we are.

Their debut album came out on October 25, 1988 to massive critical acclaim and even garnered them a Grammy nomination. Selling over 3 million copies it is said that it revived the careers of Petty and Dylan, but really! I don’t know if that is true as they had never really gone away. Regardless, it was cool moment in music history.

My copy is actually from the box set called The Traveling Wilburys Collection which consisted of both albums, Volume 1 and Volume 3 as well as a DVD of a history of the band with videos. And no, there is not a Volume 2. Where do you think Chickenfoot got the idea to do the same thing 20+ years later.

Interestingly enough, the album credits give all the songs to each member even though in reality each song was written mostly by an individual with help from the others. The cool thing is they do all share lead vocals on songs and some have only one singer and one even has all of them. It is an eclectic mix of Folk rock and country rock or just folk country or just rock…whatever you want to call it. So why don’t we explore the album.

The first song they wrote and first single was “Handle With Care”. The song went to #45 and was their most successful song. It is a feel good rock track that has a peppy beat and overall a really cool vibe. On vocals, you start off with George and then Roy does a bridge and man, can that man sing. Orbison has one of the smoothest voice in music and so distinct and original. You hear all of them on the what I guess would be the chorus. It has a great solo and some nice harmonica work by Bob. The song is a great opening track and sets the tone for the album perfectly.

Next up is “Dirty World” which is another upbeat, stomping tempo. It is has a nice feel to it and then Bob comes in sings and well, he doesn’t have the best vocals, but on this song they aren’t too bad. The rest of the band is credited on vocals as well, but they are only there to add some harmonies and some color and texture to the song. And they each take a little line at the end which keeps the song fun and happy sounding.

“Rattled” is a quick tempo track with a great drum beat and bass groove. Jeff Lynne on the vocals and the song has this old school 60’s rock vibe. The bass feels like a stand-up bass and the guitar tone sounds so vintage. It is rockabilly even though rockabilly wasn’t necessarily in at the time but it works on every level.

Petty gets lead vocals on “Last Night” with the help of Orbison. It has that classic Petty vibe and is another quick tempo song that feels light and like everyone is having a good time. That is what is so cool about band is it does feel they are all having so much fun. Like they have found a new toy to play with.

Finally we get a solo Roy Orbison on vocals with “Not Alone Any More”. Written by Jeff Lynne specifically for Roy it has a sad and lonely feel to it that only Orbison can convey with his vocals. And have I said how much I love Roy’s vocals…no…man, they are amazing. His tone is unmatched by anyone. I don’t think he could hit a bad note if he tried. I sure do miss having him around.

The first misstep on the album comes from the song “Congratulations”. It only has Bob Dylan on vocals and is a tough listen for me. As I said, I am not a huge fan of Dylan’s vocals, especially around this time. His earlier work I can handle, but this for me is difficult. The song is just plain awful. Next…

“Heading for the Light” picks the pace back up and we are back in to music with an exciting and quick tempo. George Harrison is on lead vocals with some help by Jeff Lynne. The song had to be written by George as his style is drenched in the song and that is why I like it. It could’ve fit on any of his solo albums. It is a great recovery from the prior song.

Up next is “Margarita” which has both Petty and Dylan on vocals with some help from Lynne. It starts off with some keyboard work by Lynne and then we get some guitars and the band does what has done so well on the album. They keep it light and fun. I haven’t talked much about the band’s musicianship, but really it is a given and there are so many nice little moments musically in each song and this is no different. Dylan sounds great on this one and then Petty, I mean, its Petty come on. I’m ready for that icy drink and sitting by the pool now.

The coolest title award on the album goes to “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” which was probably mostly written by Dylan. The acoustic guitars are great and I know I said I don’t care too much for Dylan’s vocals, but here he does another great job. The song is said to be an homage to Bruce Springsteen, but who knows. They do mention New Jersey and Bruce was considered to be the “New Dylan” at one time so it could be. Either way, it is just fun singing that song title. The song fits Dylan’s wheelhouse and he sings in that speak/sing style and tells a great story.

The last track is “End of the Line” which sees Harrison back on vocals along with everyone else but Dylan. Another Harrsion sounding song as it is upbeat and almost has that whole “Got My Mind Set On You” vibe. It isn’t as repetitive as that song, but still sounds a little like it in its groove. It is another upbeat track and they go out the same way the came in and that is a super group.

Now there are two bonus tracks on the disc I have, but we are sticking strictly to the original album as the bonus tracks didn’t come out until 2007.

Track Listing:

  1. Handle With Care – Keeper
  2. Dirty World – Keeper
  3. Rattled – Keeper
  4. Last Night – Keeper
  5. Not Alone Any More – Keeper
  6. Congratulations – Delete
  7. Heading for the Light – Keeper
  8. Margarita – Keeper
  9. Tweeter and the Monkey Man – Keeper
  10. End of the Line – Keeper

The Track Score is 9 out of 10 Songs or 90% and that is a solid score.  I didn’t appreciate this album when it came out as it wasn’t heavy enough for me back then.  But a few years later, that changed and I loved every minute of it. I was excited to get the box set that had all their songs and I think I like it more every time I listen to it.  We already know that each member of this group can sing and are musically talented, but throw them all together and you get so much more. The best of each member is highlighted and the whole is even as good as its parts (if not better).  I have said it a bunch above but it needs repeating, this is a plain and simple, fun album.  The mostly acoustic, upbeat tempo songs just can’t help but engross you in to the music and take you along for a quick and exciting journey that will only take 36 minutes of your time.  Overall, I will give it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as there is only one little misstep.  Grab this one if you haven’t heard it and you can thank me later.

31 thoughts on “You Picked It! – The Traveling Wilburys – ‘Traveling Wilbury’s Volume 1’ – Album Review

  1. Good album. Just fun, light stuff. I could have done with more Roy and less Bob, but only because Bob dominated the lead vocals and he’s the worst singer in the band.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t mind that song, it’s kinda funny. I’m not sure that was the intention, but it’s lugubrious. The cheesy keyboards put it over the top.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. you need to hear the Headstones cover of Tweeter! I bought this at the time and why not. Some stellar cats on here and it’s crazy to think only 2 are still alive…
    Great writeup and throwback to a better time

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tweeter and the Monkey Man is awesome…I love the way Dylan sings it. When it came out I bought it and listened to this and Keith Richard’s Talk is Cheap…It has a timeless sound.
    I liked the second one also but not as well as this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never actually heard this record – I’ve never been super keen on the singles, but the radio used to play Tweeter and the Monkey Man and that sounded like the best song Dylan’s done since the 1970s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review, John. I had Vol. 1 on CD, but never had Vol. 3 until I picked up that Wilburys Collection set a few years back (there is a Vol. 2 boot out there). Anyhoo, this is a really great album… I’ve always found it to be a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, though having not listened to it for a while and reading this I’m thinking that there are actually a few stand-out tunes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nailed it!!!

    When my sister and I were kids, listening to this album with mom and dad in the car, we would HOWL during Congratulations. We’d just sing it as loud and off-key as we could! Hhahaha. Very close to the original. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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