The Petty Archives

CD Review
Palo Verde Valley Times - May 3, 1991

Muddy, Boo, Clayton, and Spike Wilbury (pseudonyms assumed by Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison), released their second collection of folksy tunes in 1990. Simply titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, this latest record is quite consistent with the styles established by the Wilburys "brothers" in previous Wilbury recordings. The Wilbury style blends country, folk, and rock in surprisingly unique ways. Typically, Wilbury themes deal with love, broken hearts, and social concerns such as environmental abuse and commercial excess.

Although the artists have created stage names complete with personal histories and personalities, the authenticity and timelessness of these legends shines through. Each artist has placed his trademark stamp on the Wilbury records. Harrison's unmistakable singing slide guitar and fluid harmonies, Jeff Lynne's E.L.O-like orchestrated vocal backgrounds, and Dylan's off-key, moaning style of vocalization are all easily recognized by the trained listener.

The Wilburys are simple folks, and so are their tunes -- at first glance, that is. These guys have managed to talk simple folk and country song patterns and have added new twists and bridges, creating a unique sound. Of course, bringing in a former Beatle and a 60's folk scene legend will give any recording project a sense of uniqueness.

That's best about listening to the Wilbury's work is the Hal of the music. Here we have four music figures of legendary status who have stepped down from the big city and big lights to make music undercover, so to speak.

Although the music is very upbeat and sometimes irreverent, the boys have managed to weave in some significant themes for our modern world. "The Devil's Been Busy," for example, is a call to wake from out environmental coma and pay attention to those things we may be doing which are destroying the earth. "Inside Out" is a tune who's focus is hard to pin down. Generally, it points out the sense of insanity and abuse present in commercial America.