Roy Orbison

#345: Tyler and LeBrain episode 4 – Return of the Monster Truck

MEAT TRUCK

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#343: Tyler and LeBrain featuring Seb episode 4 – Return of the Monster Truck

This time we take on leather vests, the 90’s, Katy Perry, best singers ever…and Uncle Meat.

REVIEW: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Bonus 12″ and DVD)

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 these Traveling Wilburys albums on cassette.

Today is the final installment: the DVD and bonus 12″ EP.

For Vol. 1, click here.
For Vol. 3, click here!

 

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS – Bonus 12″, DVD (The Traveling Wilburys Collection 2007 Rhino)

As mentioned in the last two reviews, The Traveling Wilburys Collection came stuffed with bonus tracks — and more if you bought vinyl.  Unfortunately, these bonus tracks (seven total) do not encompass all of the Traveling Wilburys rare tracks and B-sides.  The missing tracks include:

  • “New Blue Moon” (instrumental version), from the “She’s My Baby” and “Wilbury Twist” singles.
  • The original mix of “Runaway” from the “She’s My Baby” single.

The tracks included feature a few B-sides and unreleased songs.  I seem to recall in the 1980’s that extended mixes were very popular.  The Wilburys released two as B-sides:  “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line”.  Both tracks are included with the vinyl version of the Collection.  Basically, this involves adding instrumental sections throughout the song.  Throw on some extra echo here and there.  Each song is extended by about 2 minutes.  With a vocal-heavy band like the Traveling Wilburys, this is actually quite a treat.  It’s a chance to hear some of the bare acoustic instrumental tracks that are overshadowed by harmony vocals.

IMG_20140808_180434Exclusive to the vinyl version of the Collection, and previously unreleased, is the remix to “Not Alone Any More”.  I have made no secret of my love for this song.  This version emphasizes the lead vocal of Roy Orbison front and center.   Also unreleased, but included on the CD version, are “Maxine” and “Like a Ship”.  Both tracks were old recordings, finished in 2007 for this release.  Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne sang additional backing vocals, which is more than appropriate.  You can tell both are from demo sources, by hints such as George’s “Alright, that’s it,” at the end of “Maxine”.  “Maxine” is the better of the two songs; “Like a Ship” is a slow Bob Dylan trawl that gets decidedly Beatles-y by the end.  Dhani Harrison plays the guitar solo, which is a standout.

Then there is “Nobody’s Child”, originally from the Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal CD.  I’ll admit I’ve never been fond of this sad song.  This was the Wilburys first recording after the passing of Roy Orbison, and I’m glad to finally have it, but it’s not a favourite.  Incidentally, George covered this song way back when he was in the Beatles, too.

Del Shannon’s “Runaway” is a favourite of mine.   I love that “I wah wah wah wah wonder” chorus.  I dug when Queen + Paul Rodgers covered it, but I doubtless first heard this in the movie American Graffiti.   It is said that when Roy Orbison died, Del Shannon was considered as a replacement.  Unfortunately Shannon himself would soon be gone too; he never lived long enough to see the release of the Wilburys’ cover of “Runaway” in 1990.  (He did however live long enough to hear Tom Petty mention the song in his 1989 hit “Running Down a Dream”.)  Jeff Lynne sings lead on the Wilburys version, and he does a bang-up job.  I like this version so much that I’m going to track down the “She’s My Baby” CD single so I can get the original mix too.

Included with the CD version of this set (but not the vinyl) is a DVD with a 24 minute documentary called “The True History of the Traveling Wilburys”. This fascinating inside look at the first album is well worth having.  How often do you get to be a fly on a wall during a jam session like this?  Never.  It’s also very cool to see all five Wilburys recording vocals together in one room.  Also included on the DVD are all of  the Wilburys music videos, including “Inside Out” which I had never seen before.

The vinyl box not only has extra music, but also a poster and six postcards.  Just paper, I know.  The vinyl itself are presented on 180 gram records, which are always delightful to listen to.  Take my word for it when I say that all three records sound amazing on my system.

The Wilburys never went on to record together again after Vol. 3, but a lot of fans consider Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever to be something of an unofficial Wilburys album.  Jeff Lynne’s first solo album Armchair Theater also has some Wilbury connections, and some of that jangly sound.  All the Wilburys with the exception of Bob Dylan appeared on Roy Orbison’s last album, Mystery Girl.

As for The Traveling Wilburys Collection as a whole?

5/5 stars

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

REVIEW: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Vol. 1)

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!

We’re going to be looking at the Wilburys albums, plus a DVD and bonus 12″ EP, over the course of three installments.  Today is the album that started it all.

 

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS – Volume 1 (1988, part of the Traveling Wilburys Collection 2007 Rhino)

If ever there was a group that deserved the word “supergroup”, it would be the Traveling Wilburys.  Grown out of an extension of the B-side sessions for George Harrison’s Cloud Nine, this group of five legends produced only one album in its original lineup.  It’s really something when the lesser royalty of the supergroup included names like “Tom Petty” and “Jeff Lynne”.  That’s because in comparison to George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison, they were relative newcomers to the game.  It still blows my mind that this album exists; that this actually happened.  Fortunately the CD version of this box set includes a DVD; behind the scenes and interviews that prove it wasn’t just a dream!  (The Wilburys’ drummer was Jim Keltner, an unofficial sixth member.)

CLOUD NINEThe song that started it all was “Handle With Care”, written as a Harrison B-side.  It was apparent to all concerned that the song was too good to throw away like that.  Instead it became the first single and opening track from The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1.  George sings the verses, Orbison the chorus, and the others the bridges.  Although George Harrison sounds youthful and Beatles-esque, it is Orbison who steals the song.  His angelic voice simply shines.  Also exciting is George’s eloquent slide guitar.  Let us not forget what an excellent slide player he was.

Bob Dylan sings lead on the fun “Dirty World”.  Although it shares the same acoustic, upbeat vibe as “Handle With Care”, Dylan infuses the song with his flat funkiness.  I mean that in the nicest possible way!  Horns accent the song, as do the backing vocals of the other Wilburys.  Sonically this sounds like Harrison’s Cloud Nine, and no wonder.  Both albums were produced by Jeff Lynne and George Harrison!

Speaking of Lynne, he sings lead on “Rattled”, a great little country rocker.  “Rattled” is a suitable title since it seems designed to get people shakin’.  And you gotta love when Roy Orbison does his signature “Rrrrrrr!”  Roy sings a bit more on the reggae-stylee of “Last Night”.  Tom Petty sings the verses, while Roy takes the bridges to a whole other level.  I get chills when he sings:

I asked her to marry me,
She smiles, pulled out a knife,
“Your heartache’s just beginning”, she said
“Your money or your life.”

“Last night” indeed!  It’s impossible not to like this song.

WILBURYS_0006Finally, the moment I had been waiting for:  a Roy Orbison lead vocal!  “Not Alone Any More” is golden.  There will only be one Roy Orbison, and this song is as essential to his songbook as any of his other hits, in my opinion.  It sounds timeless, and it boasts that powerful, mournful voice.  It speaks volumes that no other Wilburys sing prominently on this song; they obviously gave Roy the space that his voice deserved.  It is a classic song.  It is a shame that no music video was made for this, the third single.

Side Two opened with “Congratulations”, a slow-as-molasses Bob Dylan turn.  This has always been one of the lesser songs, but on an album full of shiny diamonds.  Its slow, dreary vibe can be hard to penetrate at first.  The key is focusing on the lyrics of Dylan.  “Heading For the Light” then is an upbeat Harrison number, another one that easily could have been on Cloud Nine.  It boasts those chiming guitars, and a great chorus with Jeff Lynne helping out.   The sax solo (by Jim Horn) is another treat.

“Margarita” always sounds a bit odd when it opens.  A synthesizer of all things pulses away, but soon all the live instruments fade in.  More horns, more of those chiming guitars, and George’s slide.  Once again Bob Dylan sings lead, although the song was primarily written by Tom Petty, who shows up later in the song.  It has an exotic sound, and it’s something I associate with summer.

Epic time.  “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” (famously covered and punked up by the Headstones) is Bob Dylan’s album centerpiece.  A tale about an undercover cop and other shady characters, this is Dylan as only Dylan can do.  Words cannot really do this song justice.  It’s one of those tracks that demands multiple listens, since there is so much going on lyrically and even vocally.  This is the only song on the album to which Roy Orbison did contribute.

Nothing like the Wilburys version.

Although a song like this could have easily closed an album, the Wilburys had one more track of their sleeves.  “End of the Line” was an apt farewell, and again, it’s hard not to get chills when Roy sings.  This single features George, Tom and Jeff prominently along with Roy Orbison, but Bob doesn’t sing any lead parts.  “End of the Line” feels like a bookend with “Handle With Care”; two similar songs opening and closing the record.

I’m going to skip discussing the bonus tracks for now; we’ll get to them in Part 3 of this series of reviews.  Besides, the 10 core tracks on Vol. 1 are plenty enough to discuss.  Within a couple months of its release, Roy Orbison would pass away at the young age of 52.  The Wilburys bestowed upon Roy another chance in the spotlight, and he worked hard to complete his solo album Mystery Girl, while playing shows and filming music videos.  Although he had been experiencing chest pains and had meant to see a doctor, he never did.

I was as surprised as anyone when the remaining four Wilburys re-convened to record another album.  Vol. 3 appeared two years later, and was dedicated to the memory of Orbison…or at least his Wilburys alter-ego, Lefty Wilbury.  Check back tomorrow when we’ll look at that album in detail.

As for Vol. 1?

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Van Halen – Diver Down (1982)

VAN HALEN (Not Van Hagar!) Part 6: Intruder

My latest series of reviews at mikeladano.com is an in-depth look at all the classic VAN HALEN albums, with David Lee Roth.  Dig in!

Part 1: The Early Years (Zero – 1977)
Part 2:
On Fire (Van Halen – 1978)
Part 3: Somebody Get Me A Doctor (Van Halen II – 1979)
Part 4: Everybody Wants Some!! (Women and Children First – 1980)
Part 5: Push Comes to Shove (Fair Warning – 1981)

VAN HALEN – Diver Down (1982 Warner)

Of all the classic Van Halen discs in the canon, I find Diver Down hardest to review.  After the pugnaciously perfect Fair Warning, the band really started battling over direction.  Deciding to try for some hits rather than continue experimenting musically, Van Halen turned in the 31 minute Diver Down, a collection of covers, instrumentals and joke tunes with only a couple of serious rockers.  Yet every time I listen to it, don’t I absolutely enjoy Diver Down?

To my ears, Diver Down sounds like an intentional return to the party rock sounds that launched Van Halen in the first place.  It certainly does not sound like an album that should follow Fair Warning.  Now, we’re back into covers:  The Kinks’ “Where Have All the Good Times Gone!” opens the record.  Eddie pointed out that the song and album are loaded with errors.  He misses some harmonics in “Where Have All the Good Times Gone!”…and it’s fucking perfect.  There’s nothing wrong with Van Halen showing up to play a drunken party again in the old neighborhood, is there?  Even if they’re the big kids now?

“Hang ‘Em High” was an older song that the band exhumed for Diver Down.  It immediately evokes the heavier material from some of the earlier records.  Only now, Van Halen had learned to work in a recording studio and were taking advantage of some of the tricks they had picked up over the years.  Eddie’s extended solo sounds spontaneous and live.

“Cathedral” is a trick of guitar volume swells.  By physically manipulating the volume knob on his guitar, Eddie created a sound that reminded him of a church organ.  Tonally it resembles where Van Halen would go on the next album.  This is just an intro (a beautiful one at that) to “Secrets”, a laid-back original.  “Secrets” has vibe, and this is as good a time as any to point out the ace rhythm section of Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony.  These guys were a big part of the overall Van Halen sound.

By 1982, David Lee Roth was starting to become interested in the new medium that was music video.  He directed the concept video for “(Oh) Pretty Woman”, a Roy Orbison cover.  Dave’s classic ingredients were all there:  a cavalcade of characters, little people, and a joke-a-minute style of cool.  The video however ran too long once edited together.  The song was not even three minutes long, and Dave didn’t want to make further cuts.  Instead he played synthesizer, while Eddie made guitar noises with a beer can on the neck, and they called that “Intruder”.

“Pretty Woman” features the biggest mistake on the entire album (which is just loaded with ’em, just listen).  Where Roy Orbison sang this:

“‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right,”
Come with me baby, be mine tonight.”

Roth unwittingly sang just this:

“‘Cause I need you, need you tonight…”

VH DD_0002Side Two commenced with yet another cover.  David Lee Roth really wanted to do “Dancing in the Street”, but Eddie wasn’t into it.  Eddie already had a unique synthesizer part he was working on for his own song, and Roth suggested they use it for “Dancing in the Street”, which they did.  If there was one song I’d skip on Diver Down, it would be this one.  It does get a fair bit of radio play, though.

“Little Guitars” (and the intro that precedes it) is a bonafide Van Halen classic.  Eddie was intrigued by flamenco guitar but couldn’t get the fingerpicking.  Instead he used his own tricks (and a pick) to make it sound similar to what the flamenco players were doing.  The song itself is a sassy mid-tempo rocker with a shiny melody.  Once again the classic ‘Halen harmonies are to thank.

VH DD_0003There are two schools of thought on “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)”.  One is that it’s a joke cover tune that shouldn’t have been on an album.  Another is that while the song is humorous, it is also very special.  This is a song from 1924 that Roth had discovered on the radio.  Then, Dave suggested that they invite Jan Van Halen, the father of Eddie and Alex, into the studio to play clarinet.  I get chills up my spine listening to Jan’s lyrical playing.  Alex is playing with brushes, the others are on acoustics, and Dave is absolutely at home.  This song is quintessential Dave Lee Roth, and conjures up that ol’ timey Al Jolson sound.

Dave plays the acoustic intro to “The Full Bug”, and then Eddie kicks in with that riff.  Alex and Michael create that classic Van Halen shuffle as the band careens to the end of the record.  Roth throws down a ballsy harmonica.  This track could also be considered a bonafide Van Halen keeper.

Concluding with “Happy Trails” is only logical.  The boys sound absolutely blitzed as they drunkenly sing acappella, before they all crack up at the end.  Diver Down, undoubtedly a party rock album, is over.

While Diver Down is still fun to listen to, it seems like a blip in the overall Van Halen trajectory.  It’s clear that it is not as innovative as some albums previous, nor does it rock as heavy.  Yet, it’s likable.  It still sounds great in the summertime.  As Craig Fee pointed out, “I still think DLR’s version of ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone?’ is way better than the original.  For every shitty cover (‘(Oh) Pretty Woman’ comes to mind), you have original gems like ‘Little Guitars’ to make up for it.”

But how the hell do I rate it?

4/5 stars (?)

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