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The Traveling Wilburys will be remembered for one thing: their sheer existence. Thing is, no one becomes a Traveling Wilburys fan on the group’s own merit. No, you enter into the Wilburys world through one of the members: Bob Dylan (“Lucky”), George Harrison (“Nelson”), Roy Orbison (“Lefty”), Tom Petty (“Charlie T.”), or – maybe – Jeff Lynne (“Otis”). Perhaps once you get in, you like what you hear. But I’m pretty sure no one discovers the Wilburys independent of its members and later discovers, “Woah, there were a ton of famous people in this band!”
This isn’t a knock on the group; it’s just a fact. Godawful name aside, they actually had some decent songs. “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” an overt Springsteen rip-off/homage, features one of Dylan’s best narratives since Desire. “End of the Line” spotlights Orbison beautifully and don’t tell me the ”Wilbury Twist” doesn’t make you crack a smile. The only song that even threatened to make them more than just a bunch of famous names, though, was “Handle with Care.” An impromptu session writing this song for a Harrison B-side inspired the band, so they released it as their first single. It spread singing time as equally among the four leads as anything they recorded. Sweet Lights’ spacey cover slows the tune down to a dreamy meander, with swaths of electronic flutter and the occasional harpsichord strum accompanying the faithfully beautiful harmonies. Continue reading »