Sunday, February 12, 2017

Travelling Wilburys - Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2


The Travelling Wilburys, formed almost coincidentally by Harrison due to a b-side commitment, are one of the most celebrated of the so-called supergroups, featuring some of the best musicians and songwriters of the time, such as Bob Dylan and George Harrison. They had the firm producing of ELO's Jeff Lynne, the guitar chops of the many guitarrists in the group, the great and unique voice of Roy Orbison, all that wrapped up with some really nice vocal harmonies, and the help of fake names, all surnamed Wilbury, to produce some of the best Heartland Rock in history. Their debut, the album "Travelling Wilburys Vol. 1", carried by the hit single "Handle With Care", was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, and at that point their future looked bright, seen the sheer quantity of talent within the group, and the chemestry they shared (they were basically a group of friends playing). But then, tragedy struck when band member Roy Orbison died in late 1988, and mostly due to that not much was heard from the band throughout 1989. The band members used the time off from the band for their solo projects: Tom Petty released "Full Moon Fever", which some consider his greatest solo work, and is filled with guest appearences by fellow Wilburys, including Lynne's production duties. Jeff Lynne released his first post-ELO solo release "Armchair Theatre", with some guest bandmembers as well. Roy Orbison's last works were also released posthumously in that year, with Jeff Lynne on the production and some other members here and there. George Harrison had a rather calm year, releasing only a single from a soundtrack, "Cheer Down", and releasing two songs on a compilation, and those aren't really that worth talking about. He did however, contribute a song to his buddy Eric Clapton's 1989 Journeyman, which he recorded later, along with another song he wrote during that time, all of those, you've guessed it, with Jeff on the productor's chair. Bob Dylan however, was an exception (hell, it's Dylan, what did you expect?), releasing the album Oh Mercy, that didn't feature a single one of them in it. It's follow-up album Under the Red Sky however, featured Mr. Harrison with slide guitar duties on the title track, and seen as they were released one year apart, and the 1990 affaid is mainly leftovers from Oh Mercy, it's fair to consider it from '89. After that, they regrouped in 1990, and recorded their second and last studio LP, "Travelling Wilburys Vol. 3". It's peculiar name was thought by George Harrison as a joke, "to confuse the buggers", in his own words. Considered not as strong as their debut, it is still however a really nice listen, and did relativelly well with the audience and critics alike. Well, ever since then, their fans from all around have been asking: "what about Vol. 2?" leading to many fake bootlegs, and many even consider Petty's Full Moon Fever as being volume two, due to the great amout of guest appearances. Even though, there are still confused enthusiasts searching for the album throughout the internet now. But it had me thinking: what if we wrap up all their collaborations from 1989 into one album, could it stand as a TW album? I also had rules to it, of course: the songs on the album had to feature two or more guest Wilburys each, with only one exception, and be similar to their general style. I also considered drummer Jim Keltner as a honorary sixth Wilbury, having played on their two official albums and in most of the stuff here, complete with his own fake name. And here's what I came up with:

Side A
1. Any Road
2. I Won't Back Down
3. Lift Me Up
4. Cheer Down
5. Under the Red Sky
6. California Blue
Side B
1. You Got It
2. Run So Far
3. Everything's Broken
4. A Love So Beautiful
5. Every Little Thing
6. Zombie Zoo

We used two songs from George's Brainwashed album, that albeit being released in the far future of 2002, features "Run So Far" and "Any Road", which were fully developed by 1989, as well as his single from the same year, Cheer Down. I didn't use either "Poor Little Girl" or "Cockamie Businness" because they, for me, were pretty substandard, and we want some quality in our releases! All three songs are produced by Mr. Lynne, and feature him on bass and our forgotten bandmember, Jim Keltner. The closest thing to a Vol.2 released then was Tom Petty's "Full Moon Fever", featuring many collabs with other members, including Harrison on guitar and backing vocals. Jeff Lynne himself released an album then, "Armchair Theatre", featuring some appearences. Because he isn't as great of a singer, we only give him two of the 12 tunes, well, fair enough. Now the sad part of the story: Roy Orbison's last recordings, produced by Lynne, were released posthumously in 1989. What I think would happen is, had they taken the Wilburys thing further in '89, they would finish those recordings as a group unity, in a tribute to the great Orbison. And next comes Bob Dylan, who in the most Bob-Dylanesque fashion possible, didn't collaborate with any of the other four guys in 1989 (what did you expect?). He did, however, have George play a slide guitar part on "Under the Red Sky" the next year, and so we add that tune, and a 1989 song that fits the best possible to the album, in this case, "Everything is Broken". Joining that all into one unity was no easy task, but the finished product came even better than what I expected. Clocking at about 45 minutes, it features some of the best individual tunes of each, and even some songs with the potential to be massive hits (hello, "You Got It"!), making it my favourite TW album, ironically enough. I think I have to explain the bscence of some songs in this: Petty's Free Fallin (I've reeeeally grown sick of hearing it, so it gets out), Lynne's "Blown Away" (kinda sub-par, even being a co-write with Petty), Dyaln's "Like a Ship" (not that similar to the TW's input, sorry) and Orbison's "In the Real World" (a boring cover). This is as well a really great eulogy to Roy Orbison, who seemed to be a really great guy. Any thoughts? All opinions are welcome, criticism, requests, anything, say what you like! And sorry for not posting in the last month, I'm taking some time between uploads to write more calmly now, but in the next couple of weeks, tune in for yet another album expansion!

Sources:
- George Harrison - Brainwashed
- George Harrison - Best of Dark Horse (1976-1989)
- Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever
- Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre
- Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl
- Bob Dylan - Oh, Mercy
- Bob Dylan - Under the Red Sky

8 comments:

  1. By far the most cohesive attempt I have seen at a Vol. 2! Great job as always!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, I'm glad you liked it!

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    2. Also from a previous comment, I saw that you tried making the Masked Marauders 3 different times. Thanks for trying at least, but do you think you could post in a reply the tracklisting to the version you found to be the most cohesive? Would love to see it.

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    3. Sure! There you go:

      Side One:
      01 Come Together (Jagger on vocals)
      02 Something (Harrison/Dylan duet, more "countrified" version)
      03 Come and Get It (Dyaln sings in a new middle eight)
      04 Because (all of them on vocals, acapella)
      05 Lay, Lady Lay (Paul, John and George harmonizing in the backing vocals)
      06 Let it Bleed (Paul in the backing vocals)
      Side Two:
      07 I'd Have You Anytime (Dylan and Harrison duet)
      08 Polythene Pam/Mean Mr. Mustard (Dylan on vocals in Mean Mr. Mustard)
      09 Oh, Darling (John on the vocals)
      10 She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (normal)
      11 You Can't Always Get What You Want/The End medley (slide solo by George, paul sings the intro, the guitar solo exchange from "The End" and finale is in the outro of the song)

      It's like the Travelling Wilburys, the only difference is that the Marauders suck!

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  2. I will have to check this version out, it looks pretty good.

    Where did you find the details on the recording history of the Brainwashed songs?

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    Replies
    1. the recordings of the Brainwashed album (a fantastic one, also) are pretty hazy, but I based myself on the songwriting dates: "Any Road" was written in 1988 during the recording of the video to Cloud 9's "This I Love", being already finished in '89. And "Run So Far" was firstly given to Eric Clapton, who recorded it for his 1989 Journeyman album, so it's pretty obvious it was more than finished by '89. "Cheer Down" was released as a single in '89, as part of the "Lethal Weapon 2" soundtrack. I didn't use either "Poor Little Girl" or "Cockamie Businness" because they mostly sound like filler, and the three songs mentioned above are great. Keep tuned for more in the next weeks!

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  3. Will there be a link for this one? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Don't think so, since, as I explained before, there aren't any edits in the songs

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