The Traveling Wilburys: Collection

TravelingWilburys_CollectionStandard, deluxe and vinyl re-reissues of the Wilburys catalog

Originally released in 2007, this 2 CD + 1 DVD set collects together the Wilbury’s two original albums, a quartet of bonus tracks, a 25-minute documentary, “The True History of the Traveling Wilburys,” and all five of the group’s music videos. It’s a testament to Rolling Stone’s assessment that the Wilbury’s were “one of the few rock supergroups actually deserving to be called either super or a group.” The group’s debut, Volume 1, shot up the charts to #3 in 1988, while the follow-up (which was recorded after Roy “Lefty Wilbury” Orbison’s passing), just missed the Top 10 two years later. With the original albums having gone out of print in 1995, the pent-up demand sent the original 2007 issue of this set to the top of the UK charts and into the U.S. Top 10.

From the group’s start, George Harrison was the ringleader, with close connections to Orbison, Dylan, Petty and Lynne. And it was Harrison’s need for a B-side that sparked the group’s genesis. But when the initial results proved too good for a B-side, and the time together proved so enjoyable, the quintet went back into the studio (actually Dave Stewart’s home studio) to fill out an album. The results had an off-the-cuff aliveness that exemplified music made by musicians who were friends first, and the singles, “Handle With Care,” the track originally intended as a B-side, and “End of the Line,” both rose to #2 on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart. Together with “Last Night” and “Heading for the Light,” the album spawned a quartet of Top 10 hits.

The group’s second album, humorously titled Volume 3, was recorded in 1990. Though not as surprising as the debut, and with Orbison’s passing having changed the group balance, the album still resounds with the informal chemistry of friends who also happen to be top-flight music pros. The singles “She’s My Baby,” “Inside Out” and “Wilbury Twist” all charted mainstream rock, and the album went platinum (though not the triple platinum of the debut) in the U.S. It was to be the last group Wilbury outing, though Harrison would use the Wilbury name for a producer’s credit on a 1992 live album. With Harrison’s passing in 2001, any hopes of a Wilburys tour was dashed, and it was another six years until official reissues of the two albums were released by Rhino.

The initial 2007 issue of this set came in four flavors, and the 2016 reissues replicate the standard, deluxe, vinyl and digital (standard and deluxe) editions. The standard CD+DVD edition comes in a four-panel digipack with a 16-page booklet that includes Mo Ostin’s 2007 liner notes, original album liner notes by Hugh Jampton (a/k/a Michael Palin) and Professor “Tiny” Hampton (a/k/a Eric Idle), album credits, and pictorial instructions for dancing the Wilbury Twist. The deluxe CD+DVD edition adds a linen-cloth slipcase, a 40-page booklet, souvenir postcards, photocards and a sticker, as well as a numbered letter of authenticity. The vinyl edition necessarily drops the video content, but adds a third LP of bonus tracks. The digital editions match the discs, and differ from one another by the inclusion of the video elements in the deluxe edition.

All of the reissue editions include the same bonus tracks as the 2007 CDs: the previously unreleased “Maxine” and “Like a Ship,” the benefit album title song “Nobody’s Child” and a remixed B-side cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” The vinyl edition, as in 2007, adds extended versions of “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line,” and the remixed version of “Not Alone Anymore.” You can scare up the extended versions on CD singles if you search, but they would have made a nice addition to complete the digital re-reissues. But that’s a nit, the music is terrific and the DVD showcases, in Tom Petty’s words, “a bunch of friends that just happened to be really good at making music.” If you didn’t pick this up in 2007, you now have a second chance! [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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