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Monday, October 8, 2012

Mark’s Pick of the Week: The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 by The Traveling Wilburys

Why does an album get popular or have staying power?  To me it sometimes seems like an arbitrary thing.  Maybe it’s the type of audience it appeals to, or the timing, or something like that.  The only reason I ask is I see a lot of albums that are praised by critiques and chart well, and are still not known.  One such example are the Traveling Wilburys. 
Seriously these guys have everything going for them.  It’s a super group of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne (The guy from ELO), Roy Orbison (Rock and Roll Pioneer or the guy who sang “Pretty Woman” depending on how old you are) and Tom Petty.  Seriously, I’m not making that up.  Those are some big names in classic rock.  It was also one of Roy Orbison and George Harrison’s last recordings before they left us.  How are these guys not a staple of classic rock radio?
Every one of the songs on this album are pretty obviously the ideas of one particular member, but with great additions from the rest of the band, whether musically or vocally.  Take “Dirty World” for example.  I would stake my life that this is clearly a Bob Dylan song, but with some great horn additions a la ELO (Jeff Lynn) as well as great vocal additions from the rest of the band most notably Tom Petty.

Like I said before they were a commercial, and critical success.  They won Grammys, sold platinum records worldwide, and we’re critically well received. Also the music is pretty Damn good.  The only thing bad I can really say about these guys is you really aren’t going to be hearing anything new.  All the songs sound like classics by theses guys covered by other famous artists.  Quite frankly that only makes it better for me. 
Music is something that is better in a group, and when really great songwriters get together and make great music it can be really amazing.  There’s a reason they call them “Super Groups.”  These guys were professionals who played music like friends.  I attribute this whole affair to Jeff Lynn (even if I never met the guy) he really seems like a guy with no ego, a respect for elders, and a love of music that you need to stay grounded as an artist. 

The answer the question I asked earlier in the article I’ll throw out a few theories.  First off these albums will always be in the shadow of giants.  How can you compare these albums to “Blond on Blond” or “A New World Record” or “Cloud Nine?”  It’s not their best, but it’s still pretty good.  Also they never toured, and had a releativly short time together, which may have contributed.  Whatever, the reason we still have this and their other album to go to when you’re hankering for Dylan and Petty and Orbison and Lynn and Harrison…at the same time.  I’ll close this article out with by far the most standout track on the album: End of the Line. 

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