The second Traveling Wilburys album may not be as consistently excellent as their debut, but it remains a very good release in its own right. Maybe it was due to the loss of Roy Orbison, who was treated as the grand old man of the first release, or possibly it did not contain the surprises of the group’s first album.
George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne returned to the studio during April and May of 1990. The result was Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. There had been no volume two; skipping that number was a joke to confuse their fans. They also took on new names: Harrison was now Spike Wilbury, Dylan was Boo, Lynne assumed the name Clayton, and Petty became Muddy.
The album was released October 29, 1990 and while it did not achieve the massive commercial success of its predecessor, it did receive a platinum sales award for selling over a million copies and reached number eleven on the United States album charts.
My favorite tracks have always been the first and last. For the opener, the rocking “She’s My Baby,” they imported guitarist Gary Moore to play lead; and play he does as he dominates the recording. And I never get tired of “Wilbury Twist,” the amusing piece of pop paradise that closes the album.
There are a number of other excellent songs as well. “If You Belonged To Me” is a nice outing by Bob Dylan, harking back to his folk days of the ’60s complete with some nice harmonica work. “The Devil’s Been Busy” has more lyrical depth than most of The Traveling Wilbury compositions, featuring a Petty/Dylan vocal with Harrison providing some backing on the sitar. “7 Deadly Sins” has a ’60s feel and the sax work by Jim Horn is exemplary. And like before, good old Jim Keltner was back as the drummer.
The album finds Tom Petty and Bob Dylan dominating the vocal and probably writing duties even though all compositions are credited to the group. And while he co-produced the album with Harrison, it primarily bears Jeff Lynne’s imprint. Harrison is most active as a musician, playing acoustic and electric guitars, sitar, and even some mandolin.
While it remains a cut below their first volume, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 contains a nice selection of early ’90s rock/pop. It is certainly still worth a listen twenty years after its initial release.