The Petty Archives

True genius shines through
By Theodore Chan
The Straits Times - November 20, 1988

True genius is recognisable under any name or form.

Despite the disguise -- dark eyeshades, pseudonyms and even more pseudo album sleeve notes -- the brilliance of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and Roy Orbison shine through with legendary dazzle in their combined first effort Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (Wilbury Records 1988). It is a masterpiece collection of pure-trade early rock 'n roll styled tunes (rock-a-billy to some) distilled through some 25 years of experience of these legendary greats. This is the stuff that made rock music what it is today.

All of the 10 tracks exhibit simple genius -- music that is easily savoured with just one listening and grows o n you. It is great fun trying to analyse the individual influences present -- a Lynne-Petty melody would be rendered with Orbison-Dylan vocals accompanied by Harrison guitars, as in the hit single Handle With Care.

Treat yourself also to moments when each legend takes the limelight while the rest provide subtle but potent backgrounds. Not Alone Anymore is outstandingly Orbison and Tweeter and The Monkey Man is delightfully Dylan.

Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 is a landmark commitment to the propagation of rock 'n roll. One can almost sense the need for the inclusion of Carl Perkins and Eric Clapton should there be a Vol. 2. Then we would see a constellation of stars like never before.