Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

FUSSY SYNTHS AND SUGARY GUITARS

I got an interesting e-mail telling me to check out the Rolling Stone review of the Traveling Wilburys Collection.  Rob Sheffield gave it two stars and started tearing into Jeff Lynne's production.

Mind you, I don't know Rob Sheffield from Adam, but I suspect he's an old school rock 'n' roll kind of guy.  Clearly, he'll never let Jeff Lynne off the hook for using synthesizers in ELO.  He didn't quite grasp that the Wilbury records were made much more organically than he's led himself to believe. 

What can I say??  Some people hear a keyboard sound on a rock record and that's all they hear.  Others, on the other hand, hear the keyboard/synthesizer or whatever as one element among many others in a song.  Call me crazy, but... 

 But, "...Lynne got work because he was a nice bloke with zero ego..."??   Mind you, I don't know Jeff Lynne from Adam, but I strongly suspect that in 1988, after just having a Top 20 record with ELO, and a successful collaboration with George Harrison (a #1 hit single included), his ego was anything but zero.  He may want to re-research his legends.

So, Mr. Sheffield is, of course, entitled to his opinions, however misguided and boneheaded they are.  It's just a shame such an unfair assessment of the Wilburys set is in a such a high-profile place. 

But as far as the rest of us are concerned, we can take comfort in knowing that Rob Sheffield is clearly in the minority on this one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BILLBOARD

Well, it wasn't the number many of us were hoping for, but the Traveling Wilburys Collection enters the US Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #9.

Still, given the artist make-up of charts, this is quite an achievement, especially for sets that retailed for $20-$45 a piece.

Hopefully, everyone sees this as a rousing success.

THE BOOK OF WILBURY

The Wilburys will keep on rolling into the fall with a new book from Genesis Publications.

For those who are not familiar with Genesis Publications books, they are highly elaborate, very collectible books, but with prices way out of reach for most people.  Most of their books start at $350 with deluxe editions starting at about $600.  And it goes way up from there.

They claim to be pulling out all the stops for the Wilburys, so it may be best to start looking at payment options now if you're interested: saving your pennies, using a credit card, refinancing the house, etc.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MORE

Now, #1 in Music on Amazon.

ALREADY

The Traveling Wilburys Collection is #1 on iTunes Top Albums.  I hope this is the beginning.

GRAB YOUR WILBURY

Depending on your standpoint, the new Wilburys Collection sets up a good news bad news scenario. If you have a deluxe edition already, good news. If you waited ‘til today to pick up one, bad news: you‘ll have a hard time finding one, although it is not impossible yet. For people who only want the music for their iPod, the standard edition will suit them. But for those who like to hold something physical in our hands, the deluxe edition lived up to its hype.

The hardbound book is a perfect balance between personal photos and notes, unused promotional photos, and design concepts from both Wilbury albums seamlessly meshed into one solid package. For a story that involves a lot of fun and silliness in the recording studio, putting together this collection was obviously taken very seriously.

Mixed feelings on the DVD, though. The documentary is, for me anyway, an unprecedented look at these guys just hanging out. It’s exciting to hear (especially) Jeff outside of sit-down interview talking points. The part where Roy finishes a take and Jeff says “That was brilliant…” was particularly refreshing.

The downside to the DVD: all of the promo videos (sans Handle With Care) were re-edited. Opening establishing shots, parts of Dylan riding a bike, most a scene where Dylan was singing something other than “don’t it make you want to twist and shout when you’re inside out” with George trying not to laugh, people dancing goofy to the Wilbury Twist, the entire wide shot of Wilbuys performing She’s My Baby, George pretending to slip in front of the microphone and Jeff’s reaction shot, I can go on and on. All of them are very good and funny moments, most of all them were cut out. That’s a huge disappointment, but so far, it’s the only disappointment.

As with any good remastering job, so much more detail is revealed. In a few places, there are hints that some tracks were ever so slightly remixed. Not so much on Volume One. The Devil’s Been Busy is the most obvious example, but many people won’t recognize the difference. Long story short, the music has powerful sound that still managed to uncover things we haven’t heard before.

The bonus tracks, as many of you know, have been out on bootlegs for years and we may have grown accustomed to hearing them intheir unfinished state, but…

Maxine: excellent excellent excellent.

Like A Ship: Again, mixed emotions here. I like hearing it fresh at last, but at times, there’s way too much happening at once.

Runaway: I love the count in, but found it to be an odd place to bring in the drum and bass line. That’s going to take getting used to. The clavioline pretty much clones this version to the Del Shannon original. I’m leaning towards preferring the Spanish guitar solo on the original and slightly more blunt Wilbury version from the She’s My Baby single. So don’t throw away your She’s My Baby singles, or any original promo videos or Wilburys CDs for that matter. They may still hold some of their value.

This is quite a collection to savor, though.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

HIGHWAY COMPANION SPECIAL EDITION

 

I'm not really a fan of digipacks, although I thought the original booklet for Highway Companion (being almost the size of a passport) was kind of clever.  That's why I find this edition a reasonable improvement packaging wise.

But of course what really matters here are the bonus tracks.

Home:  I haven't exactly connected with this yet.  It holds the same "default" (for lack a better term) theme as the album's second half.  No one highlight really sticking out here.

Around The Roses: Totally different story.  And frankly, I get selfish and frustrated when I think this song could have sat unreleased for years.  Great mood, gorgeous harmonies and beautiful guitar work.

Big Weekend (demo):  Eh.

This Old Town (demo): I like this.  The finished version isn't that much heavier, but if you enjoy it, the demo is a nice calmer alternative.

Is this the next (maybe last) trend in CD marketing?  An expanded special edition of a year old album?  Well, we have no singles anymore.  So if this is what gets extra songs released these days, I'm in.