REVIEW: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Vol. 3)

This series is dedicated to my mom! Not only did she a) buy me this box set, but b) introduced me to the artists in the first place. My mom’s favourite Beatle was George. She saw Roy Orbison live, at the old Glenbriar Curling Club on Weber St. in Waterloo. Later, she had this Traveling Wilburys album on cassette, and that tape went up and back from the cottage many, many times!

In today’s installment, the second album, which of course is titled Volume 3!

For Vol. 1, click here.

 

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS – Volume 3 (1990, part of the Traveling Wilburys Collection 2007 Rhino)

When I heard the first Wilburys single from Vol. 3, “She’s My Baby”, I was surprised how heavy it was.  Jeff Lynne sings this grungy rocker, with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.  The dirty pick slides and guitar licks resembled heavy metal more than the Wilburys’ first album.  And no wonder — it’s Gary Moore (“Ken Wilbury”) on lead guitar! “She’s My Baby” is a great rock song, but there’s no doubt that it alienated some fans as first single.

More in tune with the Wilburys vibe is Dylan’s “Inside Out”.  This track boasts a strong Beatles-y chorus, but fairly dull verses.   “If You Belonged to Me” is better, a bit more upbeat, but melodically poor.  It’s also the second Dylan lead vocal in a row, but it does boast one of his trademark harmonica breaks.

“The Devil’s Been Busy” features lead vocals from everybody, and plenty of George Harrison’s sitar.  It’s an interesting mix, but not a standout song.  The sitar is the highlight; I always enjoy hearing it in a pop rock context.  From “The Devil’s Been Busy” to “7 Deadly Sins”, this song sound likes like a ballad straight out of 1952.  But it’s yet another Bob Dylan lead vocal.  Five songs in, and it is readily apparent that Vol. 3 lacks the vocal variety of Vol. 1, and that is one of its weaknesses.  Dylan is who he is, and a Dylan song isn’t usually as melodic as a George Harrison song.

Tom Petty redeems the album with “Poor House”, a down-home country boogie.  Throw in some of George’s delicious guitars and you’ve got a song you can’t ignore.  It’s this kind of diversity that a Wilburys record needs.  This is the first bonafide classic on Vol. 3, the previous songs short of the mark.

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Bob’s back on “Where Were You Last Night?”  This one has more presence from the other Wilburys and it’s stronger for it.  It’s a tale about a girl who’s been “messing around”.    “Where were you last year?  You sure as hell weren’t here.”  Tom Petty returns for lead vocals on “Cool Dry Place” another enjoyable song, but not terribly memorable.  It’s enjoyable hearing Tom listing all the instruments he has stored in his cool dry place, and kind of hilarious hearing him singing about mold and mildew!  A pleasure to listen to, but not a classic.

“New Blue Moon” sounds a lot more like the first album.  George and Jeff sound great singing together.  All the guys contribute to a song that has a timeless sound.  The ballad “You Took My Breath Away” is helmed by Tom Petty, but equally important are those classic Harrison chords.  It’s not a standout song regardless, unfortunately.  Vol. 3 is plagued by songs that are not as memorable as the first go-round, and that is still apparent listening to them back-to-back today.

Finally there’s “Wilbury Twist”. This single featured a music video starring John Candy. I’m not sure how that came to be, but to me that’s the most memorable thing about it. That and the silly lyrics about the dance, the Wilbury Twist:

Lift your other foot up (other foot up)
Fall on your ass (fall on your ass)
Get back up (get back up)
Put your teeth in a glass (teeth in a glass)
Ain’t ever been nothin’ quite like this
It’s a magical thing called the Wilbury Twist

Needless to say, we did not ever attempt to dance the full Wilbury Twist.  We never made it past the first couple lines!

That’s it for Vol. 3, a Traveling Wilburys album that has always, and will always, lie the shadow of its superior predecessor.  But that’s not it for this series.  When The Traveling Wilburys Collection was finally reissued in 2007, it included several bonus tracks.  The 2 CD/1 DVD version had four, but the 3 LP box set had seven.  We’ll look at them all tomorrow.

As for Vol. 3?

3/5 stars

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10 comments

  1. I’m pretty much on the same page as you regarding Vol. 3. It’s very good but lacks the diversity…and the sense of fun…of the first album. Certainly the loss of Roy Orbison was going to have a huge effect on the vocal blend but there’s something missing spiritually here as well. Where the debut took all the great elements of the five members and turned them into something bigger, this was more of a straight-up collaboration. Very good but definitely a disappointment. With that being said, there are plenty of songs I love here, and the appearance of Gary Moore was a bright spot for me. I like the fact that they released something so heavy (relatively speaking) as the first single. Another spot-on review, Mike.

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    1. Thanks again Rich, although I think you worded it better than I did.

      Gary Moore was a complete surprise to me. I had no idea until I wrote the review. I may have known in the past but had forgotten.

      I’m happy to report there are still a few more great Wilburys tunes coming up!

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      1. I may not be around for the rest of your Wilburys posts. Hoping to be incommunicado (with respect to Marillion) for a few days. I still have the original CD pressings as well as the 2CD+DVD set. Haven’t listened to the extra songs in a while so I’ll revisit them soon (and check out your reviews when I’m back online). The original albums, though, are permanently etched in my brain. I know them as well as anything in my collection.

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