The Petty Archives

Wilburys Release First-Rate Followup Album
By David Bauder
The Albany Herald - Thursday, November 29, 1990

The music world's a big joke to the Traveling Wilburys, whose new disc only sounds like it was written and recorded in an afternoon. Don't be fooled. Pride being what it is, this low-key supergroup has made a first-rate followup to their surprise 1988 hit.

For all the wink-wink, nudge-nudge antics, the Wilburys are quite serious when it comes to music. In fact, with the exception of Tom Petty, whose solo career is still at its peak -- it might behoove George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne to become full-time Wilburys.

That would allow Dylan and Harrison to indulge their senses of humor without worrying about their considerable recorded legacies. Harrison manages to fit the cliche twister, "she's got a body for business and a head for sin" into the garage rocker "She's My Baby." Dylan gets the racy line, "she likes to stick her tongue right down my throat," into the same song.

The Wilburys don't credit songwriters individually, but it's clear Dylan's contributions loom large. Seemingly offhand songs such as "If You Belonged to Me" and the doo-wop style "Seven Deadly Sins" are better than anything on his most recent solo album.

Harrison's instrumental work is superb, particularly his rocking sitar on the environmentalist "The Devil's Been Busy," and the warped guitar sound on Petty's country romp, "Poorhouse."

Lynne, as his recent solo album inadvertently proved, is better suited now as a role player. He plays the widest variety of instruments and his production with Harrison, despite the occasional annoying chirpy background vocals, is fine.

"You Took My Breath Away" is a worthy tribute to late Wilbury Roy Orbison and the hilarious "Wilbury Twist," a dance anthem for cynical baby boomers, brings this disc to a rocking close.

The Wilburys sound like they may be suited to this business. And that's no joke.